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F1: Bernie Screws The Minnows

At the end of last season the battle for survival as one of F1's minnow teams proved too much for Spanish team HRT, leaving the sport with just eleven teams competing this season.

It looks like the sports supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, thinks even that is too many. Today he announced that Marussia - the eleventh placed team at the end of last season, will not receive a share of the sports prize fund.

Previously the distribution of the money was governed by a Concorde Agreement signed by all the teams. However when that expired at the end of last season Ecclestone negotiated individual deals with each of the top ten teams.

For Marussia then, this means a cut of $10m from its funds for next season. Already strapped for cash and forced to run pay drivers, it seems highly unlikely that Marussia will survive and make it onto the
grid in 2014 - even if, as seems likely, they beat Caterham to tenth place this season.

This is a bad thing for F1. Already we have too few competitive seats for all of the drivers worthy of them. Now even the opportunity to enhance a reputation by doing well in one of the smaller teams is being taken away.

A much fairer way of distributing prize money needs to be found, otherwise the biggest teams will find themselves racing against each other in a very restricted field.

Unfortunately we do know that some of the big teams would welcome the opportunity - Ferrari in particular have been very vocal about being allowed to run three cars rather than two.

If the big boys get their way we may find that F1 becomes a sport of six, seven or eight teams running three cars each.

I just can't see that as being right or wise. Too many people like to root for the underdog. And that's undoubtedly the thing that brings real enthusiasts back to the sport time and time again.

I'm all for Vettel winning in a Toro Rosso, Martini leading in a Minardi or Ghinzani scoring points in an Osella.

F1 needs it minnows. Bernie has set out to destroy them. Unfortunately he'll probably succeed.


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