Singapore: As speculation grows about the imminent exit of three struggling teams from Formula One, two of the under-pressure outfits have said they intend to still be in the sport in 2015.
Sauber, Caterham and Marussia are struggling both on and off the track in the vastly expensive sport, with many predicting they will not have the resources to continue in F1 beyond the current season.
Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn acknowledges the difficulty of trying to find new investors and sponsors after a highly disappointing season in which the Swiss-based outfit has not scored a single point.
"We are having the worst season of our history, of our team, and yet at the same time, we are more than 21 years in Formula One and we do get that question often and every time we say, 'well we'll be around'," Kaltenborn said. "I'm going to answer the same way, we'll be around next year as well."
Caterham's situation is even more critical. Founder and Air Asia impresario Tony Fernandes sold the team mid-season to a group identified only as Middle Eastern investors, though the team's refusal to identify them has raised questions about where the money is coming from.
"The ownership behind our team is a group of investors, it's a club of investors," new team principal Manfredi Ravetto said. "They just want to make the best out of their investment and they don't need to have any kind of personal visibility or publicity. By the way, it's something they refuse."
The sudden departure of Christijan Albers as the first team principal under the new ownership hinted at continuing problems with the England-based team, and Ravetto said that 2015 participation was a goal rather than an expectation.
"We inherited a situation which was more than critical," Ravetto said. "The situation was difficult to such an extent that previous ownership decided to pull the plug and therefore whatever we do we see it as an achievement. ... Of course we want to be on the grid in Melbourne next year; that is definitely our goal."
Doubts over the future of the three teams raise the possibility of there being only eight teams remaining in F1 next year, and the sport's regulations allow for expansion to three drivers per team as opposed to the longstanding two if team numbers get to that low level.
F1's commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone said he would welcome three cars per team, even if there are more than eight teams next year.
"It's always been on the cards that if we lose up to three teams then the other teams will run three cars," Ecclestone said. "We should do it anyway. I would rather see Ferrari with three cars, or any of the other top teams with three cars, than having teams that are struggling."