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Formula 1

McLaren can’t continue in F1 ‘at any cost’

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

McLaren cannot continue in Formula 1 “at any and all costs” and an aggressive budget cap will help it stay in the championship beyond the global crisis, says CEO Zak Brown.

The British team, one of F1’s most successful of all-time, is leading a bid to have the incoming 2021 budget cap of $175m drastically reduced.

All 10 teams are either in favour of, or open to, an initial reduction to $150m but McLaren wants this to go further, as low as $100m and at least to the $130m level that F1 says it originally targeted two years ago.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought havoc on sporting schedules including the 2020 F1 season, which is yet to begin, and the financial consequences of lost races will be felt strongly by the championship and its teams.

Brown said the wider McLaren group has already been affected by that and if F1’s stakeholders agree to significantly alter the spending power of teams, it will help secure McLaren’s future.

“We’re quite a big brand, an iconic team,” Brown said in a Sky F1 interview. “We don’t have an unlimited chequebook and I’ve got boundaries in which I’ve been tasked by our shareholders, I need to create value for them.

“You can imagine our road car business, like a majority of businesses right now, has come to a stop for the short term.

“What I don’t have is the ability to continue in F1 at any and all costs.

“If I can go back to my shareholder base and say, look, this has impacted all of us, Formula 1’s going to be a economically more viable sport, a more competitive sport, then I’ll get tremendous amount of support to power through this.”

McLaren Racing CEO Brown recently warned that as many as four teams could disappear from the grid because of the financial consequences of the pandemic.

He reiterated that this is “realistic” but said if the situation is handled “appropriately” then all 10 teams could be saved because “the frustrating part…[is] a very successful Formula 1 is there for the taking”.

“We’re fortunate that the majority of the owners in Formula 1 have the means to continue and get through what’s a very big speed bump,” said Brown. “However, if they don’t like what Formula 1 looks like coming out of this, then what’s their motivation to stay in the sport?

“The Saubers [which operates as Alfa Romeo], Haases, these teams want to be competitive and they have the means to stay in the sport. The question is, do they want to stay in the sport?”

F1’s sporting boss Ross Brawn, joining Brown in the Sky video, is optimistic the form the championship takes beyond 2020 will be much more appealing to teams outside the current big three of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

He said it is important to secure that future because the likes of Sauber financier Finn Rausing and disenchanted Haas owner Gene Haas will need to foot their team’s bills in the meantime.

“They’re gonna have to support their team, perhaps in the short term,” said Brawn. “And if you’re supporting your team and the prospect is to run around the back of the grid, it’s not a very exciting prospect.

“So with the new car and the new economic model, particularly the income, we’re making the sport much more attractive for teams of that sort.”

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