With Caterham and Marussia bowing out of the next two races due to financial struggles and other smaller teams becoming vocal about costs being an issue, Formula One overlord Bernie Ecclestone would like to let everyone know that he's fine with the idea of tiny, lame 14-car grids. I'm pretty sure he's the only one.
"It could go down to 14," Ecclestone said of the 2015 grid to Sky Sports F1. "If we lose another two teams that is what will happen. I can't predict if it won't or it will. But if it is 18 no, drama at all."
Sauber and Lotus are the two teams rumored to being on the brink of financial trouble, with Force India not in much better shape. Earlier today, rumors emerged that those teams could boycott tomorrow's race in Austin, but the teams themselves have denied this.
No one I know is excited for the smaller grid that came to Austin. Likewise, making it smaller would be even worse. A dinky 14 car grid isn't a series befitting the so-called pinnacle of motorsports.
Fourteen cars is more like a really expensive private track day.
Outside of Ecclestone's own personal version of reality, people are starting to realize the need to address F1's cost crisis sooner than later. Here's Lotus owner Greg Lopez, quoted in Racer:
"Now is the time to say things as they are," said Lopez. "Number one: the distribution model of revenues is completely wrong. When you've got teams showing up to the championship that get more money just for showing up than teams spending a whole season, then something is entirely wrong with the whole system, and so that cannot be allowed to happen."
Readjusting the way series revenue is shared among the teams seems like an easy and practical solution compared to the others that people have proposed, such as going to three-car teams or creating a formal two-class structure for F1. That would allow the smaller teams not just the opportunity to stay in the series, but the ability to spend more on development of the cars to become competitive.
When HRT, Marussia and Caterham were added, it wasn't for the sake of adding new backmarkers. It was to add new teams. Formula One's failure to integrate the newer and smaller teams into the series is a failure largely on their part to create an environment where mid- to back-field teams even stand a chance.
It's time to stop blaming it all on the mismanagement of the new teams and look at the structural issues with the series that were contributing factors to their demise. When bloated costs are affecting longtime participants such as Force India and Sauber, it is a failure of Formula One's leadership not to fix their end of the problem.
Fix your out of control cost issues, fix your leadership, and give us a series worthy of top-level motorsport, F1–one with more than 14 cars!