Nightmare ‘no deal’ could lead to F1 exodus

Date published: February 20 2019

Brexit: Could lead to F1 exodus in GB

Toto Wolff has expressed his concerns over Brexit and how a so-called ‘no deal’ scenario would be “a nightmare” for British-based teams and a “massive advantage” to EU-based teams such as Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. 

It’s not hard to see what he means. Mercedes and others are reliant of the smooth, frictionless efficient movement of parts, cars and staff.

If the whole of the southeast of England is going to be turned into a lorry park jammed up with rotting fruit and fish as they pass slowly through a chaotic, unplanned, inefficient customs process, then the only logical choice for them will be to move abroad and to do it quickly.

Toto Wolff: Mercedes have many deficits

If you run any business in Britain right now, especially one which relies on close relationships with European partners and suppliers, not actually knowing the basis of how we’ll be trading in the future, is to say the least, stressful.

Any sort of change is one thing, can be difficult to accommodate and to cost out, but ultimately can be dealt with given time and planning.

However, change without knowing literally anything about what we’ll be changing to, is not just making life difficult, it is irresponsibly stupid and it beggars belief that we have arrived here blindfolded, standing in a field, not knowing if our next step will take us over a cliff or not.

No planning can be made, no costings done when the future is a blank sheet of paper upon which almost anything can be written.

Will there be tariffs on parts? If so, what will they be? How long will it take to get them here? What about staff? It seems we are not allowed to employ non-Brits who earn less than £30,000.

How many F1 employees will that affect? And if we can employ them, on what sort of basis can we do it? Short term or long term? Will Europeans even want to work here?

The perfect metaphor

Ironically for F1, going around and round in circles is the perfect metaphor for how the UK government has handled these negotiations.

I say negotiations, but they seem to have amounted to little more than shouting through the EU’s letter box, while trying to shake off the attentions of a vicious dog, and then returning home with a smug grin pretending they’ve had a meaningful discussion and that anyone who knows anything, knows you always conduct business by shouting through a letterbox while your leg is being bitten by a fierce canine.

We look on, slack-jawed at their ineptitude and lack of self-awareness.

The people involved have obviously not been up to this job either intellectually, politically or morally. They have taken their hands off the wheel and crashed the car, all the while pretending not to be even in the car, or even knowing what a car is, or that they were even on a racetrack.

If the likes of Chris Grayling are anything to go by, a man who wears a Father Dougal blank look which betrays not just ignorance but incomprehension at actually being ignorant, we should be preparing for the whole shambles to continue for years.

Because it’s not just the 29th March that we have to worry about.

Even if some sort of deal is struck, which is by no means certain, that is far from the end of it. Then we have to actually negotiate a comprehensive and detailed trading relationship with Europe and elsewhere.

The signs from the Far East already suggest the people involved in doing that are using a bull and a china shop as their role model.

The fact that walking sacks of effluent like Liam Fox stated so baldly that such deals would be ‘easy’ doesn’t fill even the least cynical person with any confidence that this ceaseless idiocy will ever come to a satisfactory conclusion.

Time to pack up?

All of which could add up to an exodus of F1 teams. Eight of the 10 F1 teams have bases in the south-east of England, but for how much longer?

There is only so much inconvenience and uncertainty these well-financed companies are going to put up with before they say sod this for a game of soldiers and relocate to somewhere that is being governed by people who have even the vaguest grip on reality.

People who are not extremists, not living in the past, not wearing creepy over-sized double-breasted suits and who do not have a face that looks like a haunted toilet.

Somewhere with less self-serving greed machines who are more bothered with feathering their own nest and keeping their own political parties together, than serving the public or industry.

The infuriating thing is that whatever side of the debate you find yourself on, this could all have been done cleanly, efficiently and in a planned, organised way.

But it hasn’t and F1 won’t be the only ones who are looking nervously towards the door marked Exit.

And who can blame them in wanting to get a fast car outta here?

John Nicholson (@JohnnyTheNic)