Bernie Ecclestone has hit back at criticism of F1’s new ‘Strategy Group’.

Jules_Bianchi-F1_Tests-2014-BarcelonaThe decision-making group features only six of the sport’s eleven competing teams — powerful Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren, the fourth-placed in 2013 Lotus and, for historical reasons, Williams. But after plans for budget caps were recently scrapped, the smaller teams angrily hit back by claiming they have been “disenfranchised”. They have even questioned the legality of the Strategy Group against European anti-competition laws.

F1 chief executive Ecclestone, however, has justified the exclusion of the smaller teams Sauber, Force India, Marussia and Caterham. “There are four teams that are not in the Strategy Group and why not?” the F1 chief executive told business journalist Christian Sylt. “Because the people that are have committed to racing in formula one to 2020 and have put up sensible guarantees if they don’t,” Ecclestone is quoted by the Independent. The small teams obviously take issue with that view. “The voice of Caterham does not count as much as the voice of Ferrari,” Caterham chief Cyril Abiteboul acknowledged in Barcelona last weekend, “but it doesn’t mean that we cannot be part of the discussion, at least for the sake of transparency.”