Formula One commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone has slammed Caterham’s crowdfunding project to get back to racing as a "disaster" for the sport’s image.
Caterham announced the project on Friday, hoping to ease its financial difficulties and return to the grid for the final grand prix of the season in Abu Dhabi later this month.
"We don’t want begging bowls," Ecclestone said Saturday at the Brazilian Grand Prix, the second-to-last race of the season. "If people can’t afford to be in Formula One, they have to find something else to do."
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Ecclestone seemed surprised when told that the team had already raised nearly $800,000 in the first 24 hours of the project.
"Really?" he said. "It’s up to the fans if that’s what they want to do."
Caterham is aiming to raise about $3.7 million by next Friday. The Abu Dhabi GP takes place on Nov. 23.
Ecclestone dismissed any chance of helping the team with more money if they can’t raise enough to race in Abu Dhabi.
"No, not at all," he said.
Earlier Friday, the London-based administrator of Marussia shut down the team and the remaining staff were made redundant following its move into bankruptcy protection in October.
"I can’t stop them," Ecclestone said. "It’s a pity that they had to do that."
Ecclestone said smaller teams didn’t answer to him.
"I don’t know what they do with their money. I don’t spend their money. We just give it to them," he said. "They have a contract until 2020. They know exactly what the terms are. So they have to run their business according to their income. If they spend more than they get, not a good way to run a business."
Caterham and Marussia had already missed the U.S. Grand Prix last Sunday.
"If I sit in a poker game and I can’t afford to be there with the other people, I’ll get killed and will have to leave," Ecclestone said. "When I had a race team (Brabham) a few years ago, I used to run the team according to how much money we could spend. And we won the world championship. That’s what they don’t do. They don’t seem to understand that somebody is going to be last."
F1’s commercial boss said "it’s possible" the bigger teams will be allowed to run three cars each next season to guarantee enough cars are on the grid.