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F1 owners brace for impact of credit crunch on expensive sport

SINGAPORE -- The global financial crisis likely will hit Formula One unless its administrators start controlling costs, team owners and officials said Friday.

"[The crisis] is going to affect all of us, it has come at a difficult time," Toro Rosso owner Gerhard Berger said at practice sessions for Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix. "It is not going to be any easier in the next two years."

Berger said new sponsors have become rare in F1 -- the world's most expensive sport -- where teams depend heavily on sponsorships from global companies ranging from consumer electronics to banking and telecommunications.

The teams spend millions of dollars on the organization, along with research and development. Millions more are spent on transporting the cars, equipment, engineers and technicians around the world.

Formula One executive Bernie Ecclestone pointed to the stabilizing effects of long-term contracts with sponsors while conceding there could be some impact.

"I suppose like the rest of the world, it will have some side effects but what they'll be, I don't know," Ecclestone said.

Williams CEO Adam Parr said there was a way to cope with the downturn.

"What's important, as with any business, is to prepare," Parr said. "We are trying to do that, some perhaps harder than others."

Parr said teams must identify ways to reduce costs and work with commercial rights holders to ensure growth.

"In spite of the difficult environment, we are in rude good health. But we will only stay in rude good health if we prepare for the future, because the world is changing right now very, very fast," Parr said.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner acknowledged the slowdown "affects all areas of the pit lane."

"It is down to the teams who work collectively with the governing body to make sure we are responsible in what we do to control our costs," Horner said.

However, Norbert Haug, the head of Mercedes motor sport, said companies under pressure were looking for high-impact advertising.

"Formula One can deliver," Haug said. "It is really a good chance for everyone."