Bernie Ecclestone has launched a robust defence of the FIA's decision to implement a voluntary budget cap from the start of the 2010 Formula One season.

As of next year, teams will have a choice between the freedom to spend what they choose but within the confines of existing technical constraints, or adherence to a budget cap of £30 million that allows a degree of technical freedom.

The ruling has been met with a lukewarm response from the Formula One Teams' Association, who expressed their concern at the FIA's 'unilateral' decision, which they believe will turn the sport on its head.

The fear is that the new rules will lead to a two-tier championship between the haves and have-nots, but Ecclestone believes the move was needed to ensure the sport survives during the global economic downturn.

F1's commercial rights holder said: ‘Any time we make any changes, there are a whole bunch of people who say, 'forget it, it won't happen'.

‘When we had two-race engines, everyone said you can't do it because the teams won't finish races.

‘Everything that is proposed, the teams always say forget it - it is just par for the course.’

He added: ‘[The teams] say they have reduced their budgets by 50%. Fine, but the guy who was spending 300 million will now spend 150 million, and the guy spending 80 million dollars will spend 40 million dollars.

‘There has always been that gap difference.

‘We are going to restrict teams that want to be covered by that cap to 30 million pounds, but we are going to try to help them with technical advantages. Then some of the big teams will ask why they are spending 300 million.

‘In the end the truth of the matter is we should just have a cap for everybody, although maybe 30 million is a bit too low.’

Ecclestone hopes the new rules will see a return to the bumper F1 grids of the 1980s, when as many as 39 cars were vying for 26 places on the starting grid, forcing the sport's rule-makers to run pre-qualifying sessions.

In recent times the entry numbers have hovered between 20 and 22 cars per season, and both Ecclestone and FIA president Max Mosley believe yesterday's announcement will prevent the sport seeing those numbers drop further.

Ecclestone continued: ‘The good thing is that most of the teams have got contracts that will get them through 2009, and we need to get our act together for 2010 to make sure we don't lose people.

‘But better than that, perhaps we can gain some people.

‘I want to see pre-qualifying again. I want 26 people on the grid, of which 16 are competitive.’