FIA president Max Mosley now expects only around half the current grid to lodge entries to next year's Formula 1 World Championship by this month's deadline, following the failure to reach agreement about plans for a voluntary budget cap in meetings last week.
Mosley and F1's commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone met with team representatives for lengthy discussions last week amid threats from a number of outfits about withdrawing from the sport at the end of this year. And, following the failure of the teams to get any compromises off the FIA about its plans for a £40 million ($60m) budget cap limit, Mosley now thinks it likely that some teams will opt against lodging their entries by the May 29 deadline.
Those teams that do not enter in time will face a late entry financial penalty if they want to get back in later, but also risk the possibility of not getting back in at all if the grid is filled with new outfits.
"I think that we will probably get anywhere between three and six teams by the deadline, depending," said Mosley, when asked by AUTOSPORT about what he thought would happen. "After that they become a late entry and if there is a space they can take it, and if there isn't space they cannot."
Although there have been fears that F1 is facing a crisis because of the threats by teams to quit, Mosley remains totally calm about the situation. He believes that even if teams skip the May 29 deadline, then circumstances will force them to decide pretty quickly after that what they plan to do.
When asked about concerns of the situation remaining unresolved until the winter, Mosley said: "I'm not sure it will drag on that long, because if you put yourself in their position – they have to make up their minds what they want to do. If they want to continue racing in F1, then they can come and talk. And if they want to go and do something else, then they have got to start making a car.
"If teams don't enter the F1 World Championship, they are going to have to decide pretty quickly what they do – start their own series, race in some other series or pack it in. And if they pack it in, they have got an even bigger problem than if they operate under a cost cap, as far as the personnel are concerned. It is not completely obvious what they would do.
"There is a good chance that when people sit and think about it, common sense will prevail, because what is wrong with everybody being limited by the same amount of money, and the performance being limited by the cleverness of the engineers? It is very appealing to a lot of people that – and it is fair.
"And you could argue that if one team has got 10 times as much money as another, then it is just the same as having a bigger engine. It is actually not very fair."
Mosley has also made it clear that if the rebel teams opt to set up a breakaway series, then the FIA would be happy to sanction it.
"Absolutely. We would have to do that, and we would do that. And if they did a breakaway, they could write their own rules and we would check them over for safety. And that would be it. Then, they would go off and negotiate with promoters and television companies, who would no doubt charge them a great deal of money as they would be there for marketing purposes.
"And rumor has it, when they went to negotiate with the promoters they would find Bernie on the other side of the table! I don't know if there is anything in that, but it is just a suggestion..."
FOTA members held a meeting after their get together with the FIA on Friday but failed to reach agreement on a way forward – with further talks now planned for this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix.
Ferrari's court action in France, as it seeks an injunction against the FIA's introduction of 2010 regulations, is due to be heard on Tuesday.