BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen has warned that Formula 1's manufacturer teams may reconsider their future in the sport if a two-tier championship goes ahead next season.
With senior figures within the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) suggesting there is deep unhappiness at the FIA's decision to impose a voluntary budget cap for 2010, Theissen has admitted that car makers may turn their back on what he thinks would be a "difficult situation" in the sport.
FOTA has already demanded "urgent" talks with the FIA over the matter, and sources are suggesting that the current teams may even be evaluating a plan to not lodge their entries to the 2010 championship by the May 29 deadline if the current rules are not changed.
Making reference to the fact that the BMW board has given its full support to the F1 program despite his team's difficult start, Theissen said that such an attitude could change dramatically if the voluntary budget cap is imposed.
"We analyzed and evaluated the situation and the F1 program with the board prior to the start of the season in February," said Theissen. "It was overall a very positive evaluation and judgment, and that hasn't changed.
"Apparently everybody is disappointed about the sporting results, but other than that there is no news and we have not discussed it since.
"What is important though is next year's regulations. We really hope that there will be a one-tier F1 next year, and not two classes of cars running to different regulations, because that would definitely affect our next internal evaluation. It would be a different environment."
When asked if he felt that manufacturers would go so far as leave F1 because of the rules, he said: "It is hard to tell. It would definitely create a difficult situation."
FOTA's leading figures are keen not to talk too much about what was agreed at Wednesday's meeting at London's Heathrow Airport, but high level sources within the organization suggest there was a unanimous feeling that the current plans for 2010 had to change.
Theissen would not reveal any details but said: "I will not comment on the substance of our discussions. I can tell you that we are still in one boat.
"We are preparing a response from our side to the regulatory situation but also to the commercial side, and obviously we want to discuss this with the FIA. And the FIA first, not passing it onto them through the public and media."
Brawn team principal Ross Brawn added: "We have to find a solution. We are putting together some suggestions and our idea is to work with the FIA. We want to talk to them about our concerns. We want to put together some ideas in the next few weeks, and our goal is to reduce costs but also keep F1 as great as possible."
There is a time pressure to get the situation sorted, however, with entries to next year's championship closing at the end of this month.
The idea of the teams sticking together and not submitting any entries for 2010 is one possibility, while it has been suggested that some FOTA members are looking at the manner by which the voluntary budget cap has been introduced – and whether it subscribes to official FIA protocol. Earlier this year, FOTA managed to get the FIA's introduction of a "winner takes all" championship system scrapped after it was not introduced properly.
When asked if an entry boycott was possible, Theissen said: "Sorry. This is part of the discussion we want to have with the FIA."
With Ferrari having been at the center of headlines all week about its future in the sport in the wake of the budget cap announcement, driver Felipe Massa expressed some weariness about the situation in Spain on Thursday.
"I feel that the political side is bigger than ever," he said. "I'm not happy about that.
"At the moment there are too many political games around F1 that I don't want to put myself in the middle of. The only thing I can say is that it would be nice to have a better sport, less political, and more sport."