Lotus' French driver Romain Grosjean  drives during the third practice session at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo on the outskirts of Barcelona ahead of the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix.

Lotus' French driver Romain Grosjean drives during the third practice session at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo on the outskirts of Barcelona ahead of the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix. Photo: AFP

Formula One faces a serious cash crisis if it does not introduce serious cost-cutting measures, Williams' deputy team-principal Claire Williams warned on Saturday.

Williams, speaking at Spanish Grand Prix qualifying, said that some teams could be forced out of the sport if no action is taken.

On Friday, Renault said they could face difficulties in maintaining their level of involvement because of problems caused by late payments made by F1 customer teams.

Williams told autosport.com: "As an independent team, we've always wanted, and will always want, cost control in Formula One, however that comes about, but this conversation has been going on for so long now -- and we don't seem to have got anywhere, which is really disappointing.

"At the end of the day, it is just going to affect the long-term sustainability of our sport and we all have a responsibility to protect our sport - but also protect the teams who have been racing for a very long time."

She added: "I think we are at a really critical junction now where if we don't do something about it and take responsibility, then we are going to be causing ourselves some serious damage.

"Williams is working really hard to make sure that we keep pushing and driving the conversation, coming up with proposals that will save costs in F1. But they have to be significant."

She revealed that the paddock was divided on proposals for a costs 'cap' and had accepted that it was unlikely.

Renault added to the concerns about the sport's future when their F1 boss Jean-Michel Jalinier said that their recovery following a disappointing pre-season test could be compromised by late payments.

Some of the funding for the Renault recovery was delivered by the Renault car company, but the rest came from payments from customer teams - whose alleged late payments are undermining the plan.

Jalinier said: "On this part, I must say that we are not at an acceptable situation because some of the teams are just late in payments and, at the time you need to spend resources, to catch up, you cannot afford to have those [late] payments..."

He declined to identify the teams who had not paid, but it is unlikely that they included Red Bull or Toro Rosso.

He said the situation is critical and must be resolved within weeks.

AFP