On the eve of the British Grand Prix, McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh is worried that the cost of Formula 1 could obliterate half the grid by 2014. So here are five ways to ensure it doesn’t happen.
1 Remove driver salaries completely. This would seem a touch harsh on the more gifted drivers such as Fernando Alonso and company, true, but the smartest drivers in F1 already earn gazillions from their personal sponsorship deals, so why should the teams have to pay them a wage as well? And if you’re not sharp enough to negotiate with the teams and sponsors on your own then either a) employ someone who is, or b) consider a career in toothbrush holesmanship instead.
2 Halve the number of engines that can be used throughout a season, from eight to four, thereby further increasing their reliability and cost. Appoint a single engine supplier (such as Cosworth or Renault, but not both) to service the private teams.
3 Forget the whole idea of soft, super-soft, prime and smooth-as-a-baby's-bum different dry tyres, and let’s have wets or dry tyres and that’s it. Imagine how much money would be saved by Pirelli alone in not having to fly 18,000 different tyres to each race, and that’s before you even mention how much money the teams would save, not having to modify and make their cars work with too many different sets of compounds to play with.
4 Stop wasting money building circuits in odd places in the world in which no one is interested in F1. Nobody ends up paying to go and watch the races anyway. Look what happened in Turkey, where we got used to seeing empty grandstands year after year: the race got canned.
5 Can somebody somewhere within the F1 fraternity – the amiably realistic Martin Whitmarsh, for example – perhaps ask Mr Ecclestone, politely of course, if he might fancy taking a pay cut like the rest of us, if only to keep the sport he so adores out of the mire? And then pigs might fly south for their holidays this summer, or perhaps west to St Barts with Mr E.