Formula 1 and its teams can “survive and thrive” after the coronavirus crisis but it must make some “aggressive decisions” to do so, according to McLaren CEO Zak Brown.

F1 is facing a heavily delayed start to its season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced the opening nine races to be postponed or cancelled. F1 remains determined to hold a world championship even if the campaign cannot start until October and ends up extending into January next year.

The 10 teams, F1 and the FIA are continuing to discuss cost-saving measures - including extending the current shutdown period - amid growing concerns about the financial strains placed on teams during the current hiatus.

“I think in life when you have something that's hit you, a crisis or an issue, you can either run towards it and try and solve the problem or run from it,” Brown said speaking to Sky Sports.

“And I think the industry as a whole is running towards the issue. But we also know that the business model of Formula 1 has really not been sustainable for a long time and I think it does kind of take an event like this to maybe wake everyone up and realise we now don't have the luxury that we have had in the past.

“And we need to make some tough, aggressive decisions to give all the stakeholders who are committed to Formula 1, the confidence and the reason to continue to stay committed.”

Brown reiterated his stance that F1 could end up losing up to four teams if the current financial model stayed the same, stressing that McLaren cannot continue “at any and all costs”.

“Unfortunately I think [losing four teams] is realistic if we don't handle the situation appropriately,” Brown explained. “But I think we can get through this and lose no teams.

“We're fortunate that the majority of the owners in Formula 1 have the means to continue and get through this, which is a very big speed bump.

“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 [Alfa Romeos], the Haas, these teams want to be competitive. They have the means to stay in the sport, the question is more do they want to stay in the sport?

“I think if we don't handle it right we could lose teams. I think if we handle it right, which I think the majority of the people in F1 know what that looks like, then I think not only can we survive, I think we can thrive.

“That's the frustrating part when you get together with everyone. A very successful Formula 1 is there for the taking, we just need to make sure we don't make any mistakes.”

F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn, who joined Brown in the Sky video podcast, insisted the championship will have a future and can ultimately be more attractive for the smaller teams.

“It's going to be painful but the sport will have a future,” Brown said.

“And I think actually we'll come out of it in a much stronger place once we come through this.

“We need the teams to survive, we need them to feel that they've got a future. But even so [team owners] are going to have to support their teams in the short term.

“If you're supporting your team and the prospect is to run around at the back of the grid, it's not a very exciting prospect.

“With a new car and a new economic model, particularly the income, we are making the sport much more attractive for teams of that sort.”

 

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