October 30, 2014 / 6:48 PM / 3 years ago

Absent teams show F1 needs to cut costs, says FIA

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AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - The financial troubles that have forced the Marussia and Caterham Formula One teams into administration emphasize the need for cost-cutting measures, the sport's governing body said on Thursday.

"These failings once again acutely raise the question of the economic balance of the FIA Formula One championship," the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement at the U.S. Grand Prix.

It added that the crisis justified the position "expressed many times by the FIA, in favor of any initiative that will help reduce costs in order to ensure the survival of the existing grid and attract potential new entrants."

The FIA said it would continue to work closely with the commercial rights holder and other stakeholders "towards maintaining the attraction of the championship and the equitable participation of the teams in the years to come."

The two tail-end outfits are both absent from this weekend's race in Austin, the 17th of 19 rounds on the calendar, and are in danger of folding completely due to long-standing cash problems.

That leaves just nine teams and 18 cars, the lowest at a race weekend since 2005.

The FIA announced last year that it wanted to introduce a cost cap in 2015, but in April the governing body's president Jean Todt said the plan had been scrapped because the leading six teams, who form part of the decision-making F1 strategy group, were opposed.

He said then that the governing body could not impose a cost cap and measures would have to be introduced instead through the sporting regulations.

Formula One's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone has given both teams dispensation to miss the next two races while they try to find buyers willing to pay off considerable debts and secure their future.

The Brazilian Grand Prix is the weekend after Austin, with Abu Dhabi the final race later in November.

Teams that miss races would normally be in breach of contractual obligations to compete in the entire championship, as well as forfeiting prize money payments.

The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) indicated in their statement that they had the final say but would also take a sympathetic approach.

"It is the responsibility of the FIA stewards to determine whether or not a team has failed to fulfill its regulatory obligation to take part in all events on the calendar and to take whatever action they deem appropriate," they said.

"However we have every confidence that the stewards are fully aware of the financial situation of the teams concerned and these matters are always assessed with extreme care and due regard to the circumstances involved."

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis

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