Former World Champion Mario Andretti has lashed out at the teams who threatened to boycott the United States GP over the weekend.
The Austin grid had only 18 cars on Sunday following the demise of Caterham and Marussia, but there was a real threat that Force India, Sauber and Lotus would also not take part in the race.
The trio of teams are outraged at the lack of financial help from the sport’s majority stakeholder, CVC Capital Partners, as well as the wealthier teams like Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull.
Their drivers made it to the grid but Andretti, the US GP’s official ambassador, was unimpressed by their threats.
“These ugly rumours about a potential boycott were so devastating in so many ways,” he told The Guardian. “These people don’t realise that in the end they’re hurting themselves. Who are you punishing? You’re punishing the fans, who pay to come and see you, you’re punishing the sponsors, who support the sport and keep it alive. You are punishing the core of what makes a sport exist.
“Only very small-minded people would think in these terms. I really have a problem with it. Look what Michelin did to F1 in Indy in 2005 [only six cars ran as those with Michelin tyres withdrew on safety grounds]. Teams or people who do this should be banned from the sport forever. There is no place for it. It’s so destructive.
“There will always be lower teams. I remember in 1976, my first full-time season as a Formula One driver, and a young Frank Williams said to me: ‘Mario, some day I’m going to be like Colin Chapman.’
“I’ve never forgotten that. I would like these small teams, instead of crying, say they would like to be like McLaren or Ferrari.”