AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - Formula One has failed its smaller teams and should be ashamed at the way some of them have been driven out of business, according to former owner Eddie Jordan.
“I am absolutely sick of the way Formula One is being run at the moment,” the Irishman, whose small Jordan team gave Michael Schumacher his F1 debut in 1991, told Reuters after Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix.
“It is completely unfair...this business is about competition and it needs to be fair and seen to be fair. It is not any of those things.
“Without the small teams you lose the very fabric of the make-up of Formula One,” continued Jordan, in Austin as a BBC television pundit. “It is disgraceful the way they are being treated.”
Jordan was speaking after a weekend dominated by debate about the skewed division of the sports revenues, with the bigger teams receiving bonus payments on top of a substantial slice of the revenues, and talk of boycotts by teams fearing for their futures.
A report in the latest edition of Autosport magazine claimed that Ferrari received an estimated $166 million in 2013 while Marussia were paid just $10 million and Caterham $31 million.
Both Marussia and Caterham went into administration before Austin and did not compete, with their futures in doubt.
An administrator for Caterham said last Friday that the team may have to be wound up in the next two weeks while Marussia’s 200-strong staff were paid until the end of October only.
Both teams have foundered in a sea of debt, with the cost of paying for this season’s new and far more expensive engines an additional burden. They entered the sport in 2010 with the promise of a cost cap that never materialized.
Jordan railed at the system of bonus payments to top teams on the basis of their historical contribution to the sport and said it was “completely wrong”.
“They (the small teams) have been lied to and misled because the budget (cap) they had been promised...was never adhered to. No-one gave it a slightest bit of attention,” he said.
“On top of that how can you run a business when the principal of the business comes out and says “Maybe I’ll run three cars each team.”
If any of those smaller teams were talking to a sponsor, the sponsor would be gone like a shot because they’d say not much chance of Bernie (Ecclestone) wanting them to be around.
“The writing is on the wall and they are not here and it’s a disgrace. The blood of these people’s teams is on a lot of people’s hands and they should be accountable for it. It is disgraceful the way we’ve treated our colleagues.”
Jordan won four races as a constructor, finishing third overall in the 1999 season when they had 1996 champion Damon Hill and Germany’s Heinz-Harald Frentzen as their drivers.
The Irishman subsequently sold out, after being helped by commercial supremo Ecclestone who is still running the sport, with the team mutating through various guises before being renamed Force India.
Jordan, who has been close to Ecclestone, said when he had needed a ‘leg up’, he got it and pointed out that most of the champions of the last 25 years had started out with smaller teams as had boffins like Adrian Newey and Ross Brawn.
“What has happened to Formula One that they cannot look after their own? What has happened to our sport that allows two teams not to make it to the end of the season when they were already owed some prize money or whatever?,” he said.
“Surely there was a mechanism in place that they could have avoided the embarrassment for Formula One, the empty garages and empty pits with two races to go. Surely to heavens it was possible to give them a bit of help now?”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Martyn Herman