McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says the big teams are risking the entire existence of Formula 1’s future through their unwillingness to agree to major financial changes.

F1 and its 10 teams are in the middle of intense negotiations over how best to protect the future of all competing teams and the sport as a whole amid economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

Part of such cost-saving measures include further reducing the budget cap limit. Teams have already agreed in principal to lower the cost cap from $175m to $150m but McLaren is among a number of teams pushing to bring that figure down even more.

Resistance has been come most notably from Ferrari, with team boss Mattia Binotto arguing that F1 should not “react in a hurry” to the crisis - leading Brown to call out Ferrari for “living in denial” over their opposition to the plans.

“What’s frustrating me is we have the ability to not only survive in these times but ultimately come out and thrive,” Brown told RACER.

“The sport has been out of balance really forever, and things don’t go on forever if you have a ‘We’re too big to fail’ mentality.

“Maybe because I’ve been around the sport for so long before running a team that I have a bit of a ‘put the sport first’ mindset, and I think there’s a real opportunity here to level the playing field, which is what the fans want.

“And not only level the playing field but making sure the players can play, because it’s tough times and while the wealth on the grid is kind of as strong as ever, I think the people that own teams, if they don’t feel they have a shot at being competitive then why are they in the sport?

“I think there are a couple of teams that can afford this crisis more than others but I think they run a real risk of — at the extreme — putting the sport out of business.

“So it’s very frustrating to see that they don’t see the bigger picture that we can make the pie bigger — maybe they have a slightly smaller piece of the pie but the pie’s a lot bigger, than having the entire pie but the pie might be real small if we keep up our old habits.”

Despite his concerns and criticism of the reluctance coming out of the Ferrari camp, Brown remains “very optimistic” progress can soon be made thanks to efforts being made by the FIA.

“I think the FIA and Formula 1 recognise the situation we’re in and are pushing very hard to get the budget cap down in the neighbourhood in which the majority of the teams need it to be to operate,” he explained.

“So I think they recognise the issue and I’ve been really happy with how hard they’ve been pushing.

“You see the FIA at the World [Motor Sport] Council meeting last week put through a kind of special circumstances vote to be able to lower the threshold, and I think that’s all them looking to push through what is the right level of spend for the sport to make sure we have a sport coming out of this.

“And then I believe the sport’s going to be healthier, which will be a better product for fans.”

 

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