British team bosses warn over Brexit “risk” for UK F1 industry

2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Team principals from British-based Formula 1 constructors have warned Brexit, Britain’s departure from the European Union,

Britain is poised to agree terms of the deal under which it will leave the EU. Details such as how freely people and goods can move between the two could have a significant bearing on how the teams operate.

Toto Wolff, team principal of Mercedes whose chassis and engine operation is based in the UK, said the terms of the deal could create “risk” for the economy and cause practical problems for the team.

“We are monitoring it very closely because as Mercedes we have a large operation in the UK. Our motorsport division, call it 1,800 people, with a large percentage of EU citizens working for the team.

“Personally, I try to stay out of politics but this topic is very close to my heart because we forget why we ended up with the European [Union], 70 years ago there was a war and the European thinking was to prevent that in the future. In times where everything changes in the last two years, nationalism coming up in various countries, new alliances forming, others breaking up. My personal opinion – I’m not speaking for Mercedes – is here that we should be looking very carefully at the situation and not risk the economy of a country.

“So, it is a factor for us, as I mentioned the EU citizens working for us, we are importing lots of goods from the EU, we have taken steps to make sure they are not stuck on the border. Overall, not a very pleasant development.”

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner described the situation as “turbulent” but said “hopefully, in the coming weeks and months, there’ll be a solution found.”

“It’s a complex situation but I think over the next couple of weeks there should start to become some clarity and I think the bottom line is that people will continue to do business with the UK if we’re competitive and remain good at what we do,”he added. “Formula One is something that the UK has excelled at in recent years.”

Renault faces the added complication that its chassis is built in the UK but its power unit factory is in France. Managing director Cyril Abiteboul said they “obviously don’t want logistics or freight to be delayed in any shape or form, as well as people.

“We’ve grown very quickly in the recent years and it’s been done in particular thanks to the possibilities offered by the UK, bringing in youngsters, people coming out from school, we don’t want that to change. That would be dramatic for Formula One.

“But I have full trust in the authorities of Great Britain to understand this is not in their interest to lose what is one of the pillars of British Industry, which is motorsport and Formula One.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 18 comments on “British team bosses warn over Brexit “risk” for UK F1 industry”

    1. It would have been much better if they’d raised these concerns prior to the referendum.

      1. They may well have done, a lot of industires and businesses made their viewpoints known at the time.

        They’re raising their concerns now over the way the thing is being handled now. If May completely fudges it up -due to her own incompetence or the actions of the handful of rabid, drooling Brexiters (Or conversely, the handful of rabid drooling Remainers, there seems to be no middle ground in the party) in her cabinet, then the knock on effects could have a big impact.

        However, another reason they are talking about it now is that they may have been asked about it as they were in a press conference.

      2. I was under the impression the referendum had nothing to do with the economy but rather with the UK’s ability to determine its own policies etc as opposed to simply having to follow the EU?

        Being from South Africa I find all the hype a bit strange. Most countries in the world are able to compete internationally through bi-lateral agreements in which they can negotiate terms that are acceptable to them so I do not understand why the UK being one of the wealthiest “countries” will not be able to do the same.

        Also the title is a bit of click bait. I listened to the interviews and I did not get the sense of them “warning” about it. It was more a matter of being cautious to see how it pans out.

        1. @hansieslim

          The same people who realized that they won’t be enriching themselves as nicely outside of the EU are the same ones who realized they wouldn’t enrich themselves as well inside the Eurozone (Euro currency) so kept the UK out. Regular people and small businesses would have found the Euro very convenient as a supposed equal member of the EU. The bankers however make 100s of millions trading and manipulating Euro’s and The Pound in London. Any talk of staying in the EU needs to gaurantee the UK join the Euro currency. I’m pretty suer all of Toto’s ‘EU staff’ would find it handy not getting ripped off on exchange rates.

        2. Most countries in the world are able to compete internationally through bi-lateral agreements in which they can negotiate terms that are acceptable to them so I do not understand why the UK being one of the wealthiest “countries” will not be able to do the same.

          You are absolutely right. But it is not just about competing and no tariffs. The EU offers a lot more: selling to another EU country is as selling within your own country, no extra paperwork, product requirements, etc, etc.
          Next time you come to Europe try to spot where the borders are, and where customs is. You won’t find it. A truck can go straight from a factory in France to a client in the UK. No bilateral agreement has ever offered that.

        3. @hansieslim

          EU is about much more than just economics. For example, imagine being able to just decide you are going to move to say the Netherlands, without having to go through the hurdles of visas etc. Or if you have children, and they so wish, they decide to go studying anywhere within the EU without parents having to pay excessive Uni fees. In comparison, I have a mate from Zimbabwe who related to me the visa process of just coming to study in Britain and the tens of thousands of pounds his parents had to pay- upfront- in cash- for his studies for until he finished his masters just because he was a non-EEA national. It’s just one of few examples of the advantages of EU membership.

        4. @hansieslim
          In theory the UK can have lots of trade agreements after Brexit. Problem is that a quick negotiation takes about 2 years and a slow one about 9 years and how do we operate during the negotiations without any agreements?
          It’s all been a bit harder than what we were told…..

    2. “Formula One is something that the UK has excelled at in recent years.”
      I don’t know what Horner means by ‘recent’ but the UK has been doing pretty well in F1 for about 51 years – since about 1957… ;-)

    3. They might relocate to Luxembourg and make Spa or somewhere the “home track”. It’s all about the money after all?

    4. So what country would Mercedes have bought its team and personal from, if the UK hadn’t have been in the EU in 2010s?

    5. UK should leave the EU and stay in the EEA.
      This is the best dialectic compromise especially in light of such a tight vote.

      As a UK citizen, the tendancy to reduce a complex issue to overly simplistic arguments is a embarrassment and we will get what we rightly deserve, for example if Mercedes move more operations to Germany.

      As I say, an embarrassment for my country.

      1. Exactly right, people seem to have forgotten democracy isn’t winner takes all but a weighted compromise. Britain’s vote was almost 50 – 50 so the solution must be both sides meeting in the middle.

        I think people are mistaking this attitude as authoritarion, and nicely proving that they have never experienced a truely authoritarion government, and railing against the wrong, admittedly empowered enemy. The enemy is that the mainstream won’t compromise and reach out to their opponents for the best for society. You know a democracy is working properly when neither side is getting their way!

    6. As a UK citizen who voted remain, I can safely generalise that for alot of leave voters it was never about the economics. That much was clear. Any of these concerns were dismissed by the leave campaign as project fear. At the end of the day, there are many things that are wrong with the EU but I always viewed our membership as a marriage of convenience that we could influence from within.

    7. Sounds like their falling in line with the big globalists and doing what their told or they themselves like the EU and their anti-human and anti-freedom policies.
      An overwhelming amount of people never pay attention to the real issues and the real policies.
      Usually the media manipulates information and uses disingenuous tactics to sway opinions.
      Nationalism means loving your country, obviously the left is pushing this idea that nationalism is a bad thing and to the bigger point that white people are the bad people because you never hear them say nationalism in Japan or South Korea is bad or nationalism in African countries is bad.

      1. You’re thinking of patriotism, nationalism is a political ideology which revolves around protection of your country from influence of other countries. It’s perfectly possible to be a follower of another ideology, like say conservatism or socialism and still love your country.

        The reasons it is condemned as a bad thing is twofold – firstly a country that isolates itself is historically vulnerable and tends to actually lose its self determination, and secondly because historically nationalist societies have committed atrocities with ease.

        1. Thank you W.K. for this succinct and easily comprehensible comment

    8. These are measured comments, exactly what I would expect from companies not really in a position to make declarations about the future of their operations (in all three cases, their bosses would make that call, and it is doubtful any such announcements would be made at a general press conference…)

    9. The gave a loaded shotgun to a referendum and they have shot themself in the foot.
      Now everyone is blaming everyone and none have tought about calling the doctor or know what a hospital is.

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