‘Fragile Formula 1 could lose four teams’

Michelle Foster
Zak Brown, McLaren CEO

Ahead of Monday’s meeting to discuss lowering next year’s budget cap, Zak Brown has voiced his fear that F1 could lose as “four teams” in the coming months.

The 2020 Formula 1 season is yet to get underway, costing the teams millions in missed revenue.

It is anyone’s guess when the season will eventually get underway with the teams debating various ways to reduce their running costs into next year.

Already it has been announced that Formula 1 will continue with the 2020 chassis into next season with the new 2021 regulations deferred by a year.

Formula 1 bosses are also discussing homologating other parts, such as the Safety Cells, and further reducing the $175m budget cap.

Brown says if F1 doesn’t do something, it could lose almost half the grid.

“Could I see – through what is going on right now in the world if we don’t tackle this situation head on very aggressively – two teams disappearing? Yeah,” he explained to BBC Sport.

“In fact, I could see four teams disappearing if this isn’t handled the right way.

“And then, given how long it takes to ramp up an F1 team, and given the economic and health crisis we are in right now, to think there would be people lined up to take over those teams like there has historically been… I don’t think the timing could be worse from that standpoint.

“So I think F1 is in a very fragile state at the moment.”

The McLaren CEO revealed that the teams have agreed to lower the cap to $150m, however, F1’s smaller teams want it be even less.

“You have everyone at $150m, and the strong majority – including one of the big teams – willing to come substantially under $150m,” he said.

“If we don’t make an aggressive enough budget cap and some people feel they have to top up this year and have no chance of getting it back then they ask themselves: Why are they in it?

“I don’t think anyone competes in F1 just to make up the numbers.”

According to Auto Motor und Sport, Mercedes is the team open to dropping the gap to $100m while Ferrari and Red Bull are opposed.

Brown added: “In football, while everyone knows Manchester United or Liverpool are going to win more often than not, every team has a chance to beat them, and in F1 it is just not the case.

“And a couple of the teams are putting their sporting interests well ahead of the greater good and missing the point that they are really running the risk of jeopardising the sport – and then we all lose.

“You’d almost think they are uncomfortable about having a fair fight with teams that maybe they haven’t viewed as a competitor before, and they might be uncomfortable having a fair fight because they have never actually been in one.

“Sport in my mind is a chance for everyone to compete fairly and pretty equitably. It is like a heavyweight boxer who only wants to fight middleweights.”

The McLaren chief is expecting a tense meeting on Monday.

“There is a divide,” he says. “Not a 50-50 divide. I would say it’s more 80-20. The reality is you can survive with 80% (of the teams), but you can’t survive with 20.”

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