McLaren Racing’s Zak Brown is concerned of the survival of some of the F1 teams due to the COVID-19 pandemic as he explains the decision to furlough.
McLaren revealed about pay cuts and furlough last week as COVID-19 pandemic showcases the financial implications it is going to have on every person around the globe. Brown is concerned about some of the F1 teams’ survival even.
“This is potentially devastating to teams, and if [it is devastating] to enough teams – which doesn’t have to mean more than two – then very threatening to F1 as a whole,” said Brown in an interview to BBC Sport.
“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. 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,” summed up Brown. While F1 has agreed to postpone the rule changes to 2022 but the budget cap is to be implemented in 2021 itself.
F1, though, stated that there will be changes in the budget cap as well and it looks like it has been brought down from $175 million to $150 million as Brown suggests. But the American feels, it needs to lower it further so that no one collapses.
Brown did not state the teams he think could go down but if we are to assume, it could be Haas, Williams and Renault (strictly on our assumption). As for the budget cap, it looks like that the decision has to be made in consent of the big teams.
“You have everyone at $150m, and the strong majority – including one of the big teams – willing to come substantially under $150m,” said Brown. “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.” Outside the politics within F1, Brown also explained the decision to furlough employees and use the UK Government’s help.
Questions were raised that a big automotive company like McLaren with the backing from Bahrain shouldn’t require furlough option when there are many smaller companies, but Brown clarified the reasoning behind it to safeguard the F1 team.
“While we’re a well-funded racing team,” said Brown. “Everyone has their limits – and as it relates to F1, it is no secret we lose a lot of money and my shareholders want value creation out of F1. So just letting the losses widen is not an option.
“I don’t have an unlimited cheque book, so it was the responsible thing to do, and quite frankly I am disappointed but not surprised that many teams haven’t already followed suit. I know some have, but some haven’t.
“And I think there is a real danger in F1 that we as an industry can put our head in the sand on topics and now is not the time to put your head in the sand.” Along with furlough, McLaren has had pay cuts which includes Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.
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