Bernie Ecclestone says he doubts that all the new teams entering Formula 1 for 2010 will actually make it into the field.
Start-up squads US F1, Virgin, Lotus and Campos Meta have all secured entries for this year's World Championship, but there have been a string of rumors about the health of the new projects. The bosses of US F1 and Campos both recently denied that their F1 programs were in jeopardy, although Campos admits that it needs to secure further investment.
Speaking at the "Wrooom" media event in Italy, Ecclestone said he was concerned that not only would some of the newcomers fail to complete the 2010 season, but they might not appear for the opener in Bahrain at all.
"I think they're going to have trouble actually getting to the first race, so now we have to wait and see," he said. "Obviously, when you speak to these people they say everything's fine and there's no drama. But I'm sure there is drama."
The F1 commercial chief suggested that the requirement to run two self-designed cars was a key stumbling block for new entrants, and said he remained in favor of allowing customer cars and the option for single-car entries.
"I honestly believe that one or two of these new teams that are now coming in will be much better off running one car which is supplied by any of the other teams," said Ecclestone.
He believes the global economic situation is to blame for the new teams' difficulties. "There's one small problem: finance," Ecclestone said. "It's difficult for these teams, even with the budgets becoming more realistic, to raise that sort of money.
"You've probably heard about it, but we've got a bit of a financial crisis in the world, so there's not quite as many sponsors floating around as there were."
Still, Ecclestone insisted it would not be a blow for F1 if the planned 13-team field failed to materialize.
"We're OK – as long as we've got 10 solid, strong teams, that's all we really need," he said.