» BACK TO CRASH.NET

Crash.Net F1 News

Whitmarsh: F1 teams in 'survival mode'

15 February 2013

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has revealed that a number of teams on the F1 grid are in 'survival mode' due to the ongoing struggle to secure the finances required to compete.

HRT has already closed its doors while Bernie Ecclestone revealed earlier this week that he had questioned the future of Marussia, although he then said that all eleven teams were 'safe' and that the signing of a new Concorde Agreement would leave the teams with 'more money than god'.

Despite those comments, Whitmarsh – who also doubles as chairman of the Formula 1 Teams' Association – admitted that the current economic climate was making it difficult for teams, some of whom were now looking to simply survive.

However, Whitmarsh insisted that the teams had to work more closely to ensure that they gain more from the deals in place with Ecclestone and CVC, with reports that the latest Concorde Agreement will give teams a larger share of the money than has been the case in the past.

"It's tough," he told the BBC. "We're in the world of advertising and you only have to see how advertising is worldwide. The rate card is down. We have taken some measures but I think it's going to be tough for some of the teams to have a viable business model for a few years; there's no doubt about that.

"Bernie has done a fantastic job for the owners. We can criticise him, but he's doing a better job than we are. He's keeping the money on behalf of his employers. That money whistles out of the sport and that's deeply frustrating for some of us in the sport, but that's exactly what he should be trying to do. If the teams aren't cohesive enough to work together to secure a larger share of that then they have to blame themselves.

"I've certainly tried quite hard in that area and not been as successful as I would like to have been. Bernie's pretty good at moving the pieces around the board, isn't he?"

One issue between teams and Ecclestone in recent times had been discussions over the engine formula that will be introduced in 2014, with the commercial rights holder stating that he feels the current engines should be kept on but teams confident that the proposed 1.6-litre V6 turbos were the way to go.

Whitmarsh admitted that such disagreements weren't ideal for the sport and were a prime example of F1 shooting itself in the foot and said it wasn't encouraging manufacturers to get involved in the coming seasons.

"F1 is pretty good at being self-destructive," he said. "Every other weekend we say, 'Shall we really go with the V6? Shall we stick with the V8s? Do we really want turbo-charging or shall we stick with the normally aspirated?' If I was facing the board of Hyundai or Toyota and saying, 'Come to F1 (as an engine supplier)', they'd say, 'What are the rules?' And I'd say, 'Well, they're published like this'. And they'd say, 'I read yesterday we're not going to do these V6s'.

"We've created an unstable environment and we're very good at that because we like arguing publicly and debating these things in an unhelpful way. Manufacturers need to see it happen now. Even in the last few weeks, people have been saying, 'Oh, should we really go V6 next year?' Christ, we're committed to it. Good, bad or indifferent, we've got to do it now. We've been saying it for long enough, we've delayed it long enough.

"If I was on the board of a big OEM, I'd be saying, 'Let's wait a couple of years and see whether F1 actually does what it says it's going to do for a change'."


» BACK TO CRASH.NET