Five weeks after departing the scene as a formula one team owner
Gerhard Berger has issued a bleak assessment about the economic health of the sport.
The former 50 per cent owner of Red Bull’s second team Toro Rosso, who also won 10 grands prix as a driver, told the Swiss newspaper SonntagsBlick that he remains passionate about F1.
But he said: “I had to see formula one as a business, and I do not want a business in an environment that is unhealthy.
“F1 is being affected not only by the global financial crisis: our sport’s crisis is also home-made.”
Berger explained that he “cannot afford” to run a team, and insists that Red Bull also wants to have full ownership so it has a “free hand” in the running of its teams.
However, he also said at the Austrian ski resort at Kitzbuhel: “What is being done now with budgets of $300 million per year can also be done with 30 million, when reason returns.”
Berger said F1 emerging from the current situation is going to require “a lot of Bernie Ecclestone’s skill”.
“Formula one has moved onto thin ice,” Berger insists. “The organisers of the traditional tracks can’t afford it any more. The high costs mean that it can’t any more be covered by the normal sponsors.
“With F1 at this level, the manufacturers will only keep on a friendly face for so long.”
He thinks he headed for the exit at “the right time”.
“And for 2009,” Berger added, “Toro Rosso will have a good and fast driver in Buemi.”