With the news the FIA plans to implement a new $60 million budget cap on F1 teams in the upcoming year, manufacturers and team presidents have begun to voice their displeasure in the new budget rules. Two big players, Ferrari and Renault, have said they will bow out of racing if the current restrictions remain.
And without a doubt, more announcements are likely to come from other teams, promising their disbandment from F1 racing. Mclaren-Mereceds and Toyota are likely next.
While this isn't the first time manufacturers have complained about rules changes, one has to wonder if the FIA will put their foot down on the budget issue. A poor economy is likely fueling the debate, and current forecasts say the world economy may continue to tank for some time.
So, with the possibility these pull outs may come as the FIA seeks ways to make racing "sustainable," one has to wonder, can F1 racing survive without mainstream manufacturers?
Finding teams wanting to race won't be a problem. People will always want to race, regardless of how big or small a series may be. USF1 coming into the fray will stir up the competition, and the expanding Brawn-Virgin team is certain promoting others to possibly "purchase" the other manufactures' equipment (any phone calls yet, Renault?).
The problem is, without major manufacturers, can teams actually bring in the big time sponsors? After all, Ferrari has Marlboro (even though we never see the sponsors letters or logos) and Renault had AIG (bailing out after the 2009 season, thanks to the U.S. government).
But on top of the corporate sponsors, Ferrari and Renault bring tons of outside investors and revenue to the game. During the Spanish or Italian grand prixs, thousands of fans come to watch Spanaird Fernando Alonso in a the Spanish Renault or the famed red Italian Ferraris go around the track.
Even more importantly though, Ferrari and Renault (and the aforementioned teams) have been the fore front of juicy competition over the years. The battle to have the best car has lead to some of the most prosperous years in F1 racing, bringing in additional sponors, and of course, money.
Once you start taking out the big manufacturers, you begin to eliminate the technological race that takes place every year in F1. And without the big players, in theory, the flashy glamour that goes along with F1 could diminish. Eliminate the drive for major manufacturers to compete, eliminate what F1 is about.
So, can F1 ultimately survive? Well, most likely yes, because as mentioned before, people will always race. But, will F1 be better of without some of the major players? Oh no, the overall racing and draw to F1 will suffer over time.
Course of action? Well, Bernie might want to figure that one out...and quickly, before F1 begins to fall off.