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Costs a high priority - Whitmarsh
Martin Whitmarsh says that cost control measures are still highly important in Formula One, and that running third cars would be "the wrong solution" for the sport.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo commented over the weekend that teams should be allowed to test in-season and also be able to supply teams with cars. However, when asked during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in if he felt that maintaining a control on costs was still as important as it had been when the ban on testing was introduced, Whitmarsh replied: "Yes I do.
"The statistics that I live by are the ones that since McLaren entered Formula One it's been quite moderately successful - winning over a quarter of the races and on the podium for more than half of them - and during that time 101 teams have disappeared from the sport. I think that really demonstrates the volatility of the sport.
"We have in the last few years evolved from being pretty much a sub-set of the automotive sector to being pretty well back to a more pure Formula One set of businesses. I think we shouldn't underestimate how tough it is for the smaller teams. It is fine for perhaps some of the bigger teams, who feel quite confident about their future, but the fact is we need ten or 12 teams in the sport to race against."
Specifically on the topic of running a third car, Whitmarsh said he could see where bigger teams would benefit, but that he didn't think it would be the right move for the sport.
"I personally think that to generate grid size with three-car teams - I understand why some people are attracted to that, and if it was necessary it has some interest to McLaren - is the wrong solution for Formula One. Formula One requires the diversity of entry. And I think we therefore have to work hard to ensure that there are sustainable business models for all of the teams that are in Formula One."
Whitmarsh also downplayed Motezemolo's threats that Formula One must change, saying that his personal views would not threaten the unity of the teams.
"In fairness to Luca, I think Luca's an extremely charismatic figure within Ferrari, within Italy and within motorsport. I know how off-the-cuff comments can be construed and amplified. I think he is passionate about Formula One. I think he's very proud of Ferrari's history and heritage, and he will inevitably push with great passion his personally-held opinions and views.
"I think on day-to-day business Formula One is much better when the teams and the governing body work together to design regulations. I think we've demonstrated over the last three years slightly calmer environments, without paying too much attention to external rhetoric, and I think we've made some good decisions."
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