McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes the time has come for the FIA to make a call on whether or not it wants to get involved in the policing of cost control in Formula 1, as he warns of big consequences if spending is allowed to get out of control.
Amid uncertainty about the status of cost cut plans in F1, after teams failed to reach a necessary agreement on regulation changes by the June 30 deadline, Whitmarsh thinks action needs to be taken on what is going to happen to the Resource Restriction Agreement going forwards.
"All of the teams have signed an RRA which is legally binding, but it is difficult to enforce it between ourselves other than morally," he said at the FOTA Fans' Forum on Tuesday night. "And I have to say that every team looks me in the eyes and says it is operating within it. Maybe I am much too naive to be in F1, because I like to believe that people are telling me the truth. So, I don't get as excited about it.
"But the question now is how do we raise the level of confidence in the policing of it? The FIA has to make a decision about whether or when it gets involved in the policing of an RRA and some people don't welcome that. But it would be irresponsible if we don't maintain a control of costs in F1, because I am an F1 fan, I love the sport, I consider myself to be a reasonable businessman and if I look down beyond the top four teams I struggle to find a sustainable business model. And that worries me."
Whitmarsh believes that if spending levels are forced up because an RRA deal is not agreed, then there is a danger of smaller outfits being priced out of F1.
"We are complacent now we have got 12 teams – but that can change overnight," he said. "You don't want to wait until after the dominoes start to fall to suddenly say we better do something.
"Although crisis is sometimes the best way to galvanize and focus opinion, it is much better to say let's try and avoid the crisis and work harder so we have achieved a lot so far – and it will be a never-ending process."
He added: "What we cannot afford is for the sport to become a completely unfettered spend fest. That gives no prospect to the small teams of surviving and it gives no prospect to new teams coming in. We owe it to show constraint."
Although it is understood 10 of the current teams had agreed a raft of cost measures and a means of policing the RRA before the FIA's June 30 deadline, the objections of Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso to those plans meant the FIA was not willing to take them to a fax vote of the World Motor Sport Council.
It is understood, however, that the governing body is still open to any amendments for 2013 as long as they are proposed before July 24, so they can be voted through before the Sept. 30 deadline for next year's entries.
Any changes after that date will require mandatory unanimous support, something that is unlikely to happen because Red Bull's teams are unhappy that manufacturer-backed teams could gain an advantage if an RRA does not encompass engine restrictions as well as chassis constraints.