Motorsport UK chairman David Richards has urged Liberty Media to financially protect the sport’s smaller teams, singling out two specific outfits whose future could be in jeopardy due to F1’s current coronavirus freeze.
The global onslaught of the pandemic has already led to the cancellation or postponement of the first eight races of the 2020 season, with additional events likely to follow.
The sport as a whole is set for a massive revenue hit, with the teams bearing the brunt of the financial shortfall. But in the event of a sustained shutdown, the very existence of F1’s weaker members will come under threat according to Richards.
“A lot will depend on the way Formula 1 behaves throughout this,” Richards told the PA news agency.
“F1 cannot afford to lose teams at the back of the grid because that would be a disaster for them.
“Bernie [Ecclestone] made sure that when there were tough times the smaller teams were looked after and I hope that Liberty see the common sense in that, too.
“The big manufacturers such as Mercedes and Renault will be okay, but if you look at Williams and Racing Point, for example, it is not going to be easy for them. There is a distinct danger of operations going out of business.
“There will be motorsport companies who do not have the resources to get through this period. It is going to be a real challenge.”
While Williams has been struggling to keep its head above the water in the past few seasons during which its performance has been dismal, Racing Point’s financial foundation is upheld by a consortium of well-heeled investors, starting with billionaire Lawrence Stroll, an advantage that should keep the pink squad out of harm’s way.
Regarding the late cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix, Richards admitted it was a difficult situation for F1 to deal with. But the former BAR and Benetton team boss was still critical of the eleventh-hour call.
“Liberty were very late in their decision about Australia,” added Richards.
“It is very difficult and I am not for one minute suggesting it was an easy decision, but given the amount of people who travelled to Australia from various countries across Europe, it was an inappropriate thing to do.
“A week beforehand they could have come to the decision to cancel.
“As you approach a new season there is big impetus and expectation. It is easy to say this in hindsight, but nobody is denying that it could have been done better.
“Lewis Hamilton talked for most when he spoke out on the matter. He has really matured and come of age and represents a very positive side of F1 and the consciousness of the sport. He is not afraid to speak his mind and I applaud him for that.”
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