McLaren executive director Zak Brown has warned negotiations over the future direction of Formula 1 for 2021 will become “turbulent” as talks heat up this year. 

Teams are currently in discussion over F1’s post-2020 direction as new owners Liberty Media and the FIA look to find ways to improve and “future-proof” the sport, with engine configurations and revenue distribution understood to be at the top of the agenda. 

A vision for F1’s future started to emerge late last year after the FIA and FOM outlined their proposal for the sport’s next set of engine regulations. The blueprint was met by scepticism and criticism from leading engine manufacturers Mercedes and Renault, while Ferrari threatened to walkaway from F1 if conditions did not meet the Scuderia’s requirements. 

“It’s definitely going to be turbulent, the negotiations for 2021 and beyond,” Brown said when asked if he felt more trouble was on the horizon. “I think they’re doing all the right things commercially - they’re going make some mistakes along the way but it would be unfair to think they will to score a 10/10 on everything. 

“They’re going to learn but I’m happy with all the efforts and incremental things they’re trying. On the rules front you’ve got 10 teams which probably means eight different opinions, so that’s a difficult situation. 

“I think they need to move quickly and aligned with the FIA. There’s a lot of conversation about ‘Liberty, Liberty’,” he added. “The FIA has as much impact on what happens in the sport moving forward as Liberty so I think the conversation has to be ‘Liberty and the FIA’ not just ‘Liberty’.”

Brown hopes a definitive post-2020 vision can be agreed by the half-way stage of the 2018 season to allow teams enough preparation time and limit disruption. 

“In some areas the FIA has a greater responsibility because of the technical aspect of the sport, engine changes. I think the FIA and Liberty need to move quickly so we can have as little or as short a time of negotiations, because they will be turbulent, so the longer that goes the more disruptive it becomes. 

“Also to be fully prepared for 2021, if new manufacturers and teams are going to come in we know it takes a couple of years, so time is ticking. I want us landing on what 2021 looks like by the middle of this season. I think anything longer than that starts to become technically challenging.”