LONDON (Reuters) - The departure of Spanish strugglers HRT from Formula One still leaves the sport with one team too many, commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone said on Thursday.
Madrid-based HRT have not been included on the official 2013 entry list published by the governing International Automobile Federation, a move that leaves 11 teams and 22 cars on the starting grid.
”I’d rather have 10,“ Ecclestone told Reuters. ”I never wanted 12.
“It’s just that 10 is easier to handle, for the promoters, for transport. We’d rather have 10...so long as we don’t lose Ferrari.”
The 82-year-old said he had heard that HRT, whose owners Thesan Capital have said they were seeking a buyer, had gone into liquidation. Their drivers this year were Indian Narain Karthikeyan and Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa.
British-based Formtech Composites, one of HRT’s suppliers, said in a statement last week that they were owed a substantial amount of money by the team who had apparently transferred ownership to a Luxembourg-registered fund.
It added that HRT had initiated liquidation procedures on Nov 12, the day they announced the team was up for sale, and had offered to pay creditors 30 pence for every euro owed with no room for negotiation.
Asked whether he saw any possibility of anyone stepping forward to rescue a team that failed to score a point in three seasons, Ecclestone said: “I wouldn’t think that anyone would want to.”
HRT were one of three new teams - the others being what are now Marussia and Caterham - to enter Formula One in 2010 in an initiative driven by former FIA president Max Mosley.
Neither Malaysian-owned Caterham, who started out as Lotus Racing, nor Russian-registered Marussia (formerly Virgin Racing) have managed to score a point in their three seasons either and remain some way off the established teams.
Ecclestone reiterated that the 2013 season would likely be 19 races, although there was still the possibility of Turkey taking a 20th slot that has been held open for July 21.
“I don’t know. I‘m waiting for the response from them,” he said.
The Turkish race in Istanbul was dropped from last season’s calendar due to disagreements over the hosting fees but the circuit is under new management and is seeking a return.
The country’s motorsport’s federation has said some government funding will be required but Turkey’s sports minister has ruled that out and said it is entirely a matter for the private sector to resolve.
Ecclestone said categorically that Austria, mooted by some as a possible replacement now that energy drink company Red Bull has revamped the Spielberg circuit that last hosted a grand prix in 2003, would not happen.
He said France, which has also been seeking a return, appeared to be no longer in the running.
Editing by Julien Pretot