Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2020

‘If “cash is king” we wouldn’t have cancelled’ – Carey hits back at Hamilton

2020 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by and

Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey dismissed Lewis Hamilton criticism of the sport’s decision to press ahead with plans to hold the Australian Grand Prix despite the spread of the Coronavirus.

The race was eventually cancelled hours before drivers were due to begin the first practice session of the year.

The day before Hamilton said it was “shocking” the sport was continuing its preparations for the race. Asked why he thought it was, Hamilton said: “Cash is king”.

Speaking after the race was called off, Carey said: “I guess if cash was king we wouldn’t make the decision we did today.”

The F1 CEO defended the timing of the call to scrap the season opener.

“In hindsight things look different” – Carey
“In hindsight, obviously, things look different. There were events that evolved, situations that changed.”

He pointed out Melbourne held some “major events” the weekend F1 teams began to arrive at the track. “It was a different situation in the world,” he said.

“We travelled and came and as the situation changed day to day and in some ways hour to hour, we continued to evaluate that and make the appropriate decisions going forward.

“So I do think we were trying to digest a lot of different information to make the right decision at the right time. And I think we did that.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

However Carey admitted the threat from Coronavirus didn’t come “out of the blue”. “We’ve been certainly discussing this issue before last week,” he said.

“We made the decision to come here for what we knew what was the situation here on the ground, the events they were having, the degree of the number of infections here.

“The situation in Europe was broadly different than it was a week ago than it is today. But certainly we were aware that was something that we had to evaluate.

Coronavirus forced F1 to cancel its season opener
“I think a week ago it looked whenever the weekend was, essentially when teams started travelling there, from that point in time, we felt it was the right decision.

“Clearly the situation changed in many ways, but we were always aware and certainly have been having those discussions and looking at many contingencies given what we’re dealing with.”

Hamilton said the cancellation of the race had been “one of the most difficult days” for him.

“I’ve raced my whole life,” he wrote in a social media post, “so much preparation has gone into being here, into every little detail.

“When hit with the harsh reality of not being able to do what I was born to do, life really is put into perspective.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2020 F1 season

Browse all 2020 F1 season articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

69 comments on “‘If “cash is king” we wouldn’t have cancelled’ – Carey hits back at Hamilton”

  1. In the present situation, Carey should be too busy to hit back at drivers’ comments. The fact he has time on his hands to rise to the bait, defensively, is adding to the picture of a guy not really in charge of his brief.
    Say, just out of interest, what is Bernie doing these days?

    1. No, this was in response to a question Carey was asked when the four of them (Masi, Carey, and the two Aussie promoters) interacted with the press on Friday. Here’s that specific question and answer.

      Similar to the earlier article (“No way to warn fans earlier that Australian GP was off, says promoter”), which was again a summary of a Q&A from that same interview.

      1. Honestly, it’s like people think they just say stuff out of the blue and that’s what gets reported. 99.99% of quotes you will see in the media are in response to a question they were asked.

        1. @pastaman – but in defence to many who’ve sometimes been caught out (and initially this included me as well), there seems to be a recurring editorial decision to phrase their words as “statements” and not “answers/responses”. @coldfly – is this something you’ve noticed as well?

          For instance:

          Speaking after the race was called off, Carey said: “I guess if cash was king we wouldn’t make the decision we did today.”

          There’s no mention that this was in response to being asked to respond to Hamilton’s statement. For an article of this length, it could easily slip in a few words to clarify: “Asked what he thought of Hamilton’s statement that cash was king, speaking after …”.

          Oddly enough, in this article, Hamilton is specifically credited with answering a question:

          Asked why he thought [the sport was continuing its preparations], Hamilton said: “Cash is king”.

          And the same in the original article as well:

          Asked why he believed the race was going on Hamilton replied, “cash is king”, then added, “honestly I don’t know.”

          1. You are right, certainly the media plays a role in the way these quotes are presented to the public.

      2. @Phylyp, A leader of F1 should be in command of the PR circus, not led by it. Putting out early explanatory clear statements, not waiting and offering defensive responses to questions, I would say.

        1. Yep, that’s fair. Carey was instead busy in Hanoi trying to save the Vietnam GP, a decision that looks unfortunate, in hindsight. :)

        2. Magnus Rubensson (@)
          15th March 2020, 9:42

          Mr Carey will most certainly have learned that lesson. Official statements is a better channel to get a point across. I think he will be far less likely to spend any time on panels answering questions from journalists.
          ——————————————————-
          “Mr Carey, what do you have to say about … ?”
          “No comment. Refer to the official statement.”
          ——————————————————-

  2. I guess if cash was king we wouldn’t make the decision we did today.

    That is such rubbish. They didn’t make a decision, the teams did, then the government did. All that was left would be the Red Bull cars racing each other without any spectators. Not much of a show.

    It’s like everyone’s trying to claim the moral high ground when none of them are on it. The Victorian premier has been saying F1 cancelled the race in response to their brave decision to not allow spectators, when in reality half the teams had pulled out by that point anyway.

    Everyone involved should be doing nothing but apologising for not announcing the decision sooner. It’s as if they have forgotten that there were thousands of people at the track on Thursday for little reason, and lined up at the entrance on Friday morning for absolutely none.

    Pathetic.

    1. My thoughts exactly.

      Chase, you didn’t cancel, the teams walked out and you had no option but to pull the plug. I feel like your actions prove Lewis point. Cash wins over personal welfare.

      1. Apparently on 7 teams walked out while 3 wanted to race. Funnily 2 drivers(Vettel, Leclerc) walked out while Ferrari wanted to race apart from Hamilton and Kimi also walking away from race well.

        1. Mercedes wanted to race until toto received a call from the board.

    2. GtisBetter (@)
      14th March 2020, 11:48

      So true. Everybody know cash is king. You can PR around it and avoid that statement, but to lie in all of our faces is very disrespectful.

    3. @skipgamer – nice comment.

      I think I’d say McLaren are the only ones with the moral high ground. Once they realized they had a problem, they moved fast and did the right thing by pulling out and implementing a quarantine for the entire flyaway team, even if it cost them in race results and points (i.e. in the event the race went ahead).

      1. Hmm, Saudi/Bahraini owned team and “moral highground” are mutually exclusive IMHO…

        Agreed, F1 and Carey didn’t cancel: they realised another Indianapolis 2005 would have been ridiculous.

  3. How did we get here honestly!

  4. Why be defensive. Cash is king. Without it the whole sport would reduce to a few bangers racing around mainly empty circuits.

    The real problem is they tried to defy the global hysteria and made a mess of it.

  5. Cash is king, because without any financial worries, they (whoever they are) could have cancelled much sooner.

  6. Cash is king for Ham too – he’d not be so happy to drive for nothing now would he.

  7. Right… because you could somehow force teams to race without having any liability and without any risk of antagonizing fans and sponsors so they wouldn’t stop watching the races and giving you money you would most definitely still cancel the race.

  8. Cash IS king. That’s why it took forever to make the decision. Who blinks first and is liable? F1 or the promoter?
    If cash wasn’t king, they would both agree immediately on Thursday night (or even before) and it wouldn’t matter!

  9. Interesting.

    Didn’t it get to a stage where they didn’t actually have enough cars committed to the race which forced the issue. They didn’t “decide” to cancel they ended up having to cancel because the teams (or enough of them) decided they were not going to race.

    Kinda shoots a hole in the argument.

    One positive that has come form this is that Liberty has learned some lessons, or at least I’d hope they have, which should mean we shouldn’t see a debacle like this any time soon.

    1. @dbradock the indication is yes, it was only when the number of teams prepared to race dropped below the minimum number of entrants that they forced the cancellation of the race.

      Until then, it appears that Ross Brawn, in his role of representing Liberty Media, had been voting in favour of the race going ahead – if anything, their actions only seem to reinforce those comments that Hamilton made.

  10. I think this just proves one reason Hamilton is* still collecting wins and driving the best car in F1 – he has great judgement. He understood his fans, the paddock and F1 politics.

    Carey can have his feelings hurt and talk trash, but Hamilton won the PR race this weekend.

  11. The only person who really comes out of this with any credit is Lewis Hamilton.

    Eccelstone and others have confirmed that much of the discussion between the F1 stakeholders in the last few hours has been about blame i.e. who is going to pick up the tab. If Carey really cared about the fans he would have cancelled the race days ago to allow fans to change their travel arrangements.

    What I find really laughable, though is all the tweets etc. from the other drivers saying how good a decision this is, but none had the bottle to say so when it really mattered, rather they have delivered more platitudes!

    Finally, look at Carey’s body language during the press briefing yesterday… ‘its their fault gov!’

  12. Sure cash is king, that’s why the media loves to throw quotes at people they interview to make it sound like there is a beef or argument, then the Internet picks “sides” and loses their mind.

  13. They should be apologising for not making the decision at the right time.
    Pretty much everyone knew it was odd for the F1 circus to leave for Australia when they did. Pretty much like the current UK government’s patronising reasoning for inaction because we would be ‘fatigued’.

    1. John H, the strategy of our government now is “herd immunity”: ie when we are all infected [or at least 60% of us] the virus will die out. Hard to believe!!!!! They may as well feed us all Corona so we can kill the problem!

      1. Reaching the 60-80% immunity in the transmitting population is indeed the cheapest way to completely stop the contamination. There are a few issues: 1: Elderly die instead of reaching immunity. 2: The health services are limited in capacity.
        So governments need to throttle the infection rate to “keep the rivers from overflowing”. Flu and flu-like diseases are mainly transmitted by kids and the active population.
        Other flu strains are remedied by vaccination in the elderly, but this is not an option for COVID-19.
        Trying to stop the virus from entering at all is also not an option: It will slow the virus-spread, but won’t stop it, and you risk the need to quarantine for a VERY long time.
        I expect the situation in China to restart a few times, once the quarantines are lifted, until they find all carriers.
        @john-h : What is the right time? Isn’t hindsight 20 20?

        1. Then why are experts from the US and Europe pouring scorn on our little theory?
          If you are not a leading specialist in immunology please don’t bother replying.

          1. I’m not a leading specialist, but who is?
            What do you think “Flatten the curve” means or achieves?
            The 60-80% immunity is in fact 80-95% of the transmitting population, the delta being the elderly which are and will be kept quarantined.
            There is a reason the governments didn’t try to quarantine returning skiers from Italy in .be, .de, .nl and .uk, and it’s not that the’re all stupid. The citizens of these countries sure act stupid enough, but that’s another issue.

        2. George.be, unfortunately, it seems that, because this particular virus is much more contagious, the threshold that you would need to reach in order for “herd immunity” to become effective is significantly higher than 60% – that lower threshold only works when the disease in question is harder to transmit from person to person. The indication is that, in this case, it would need to be closer to 90-95%, around the level that is required for a disease such as measles, because most of the population has no immunity to this particular virus.

          In this case, that strategy seems to be badly flawed – you will only get “herd immunity” at the point when basically every single person in that country has been infected. At that point, the only reason that you would not have a vulnerable population would be because the infection rate would have been so high that they would probably have been wiped out.

          1. And also, “herd immunity” really only works if either there is a vaccine, or people develop immunity to it after having been ill, which in the case of this virus is not yet clear as far as I know. I also think the ‘cheapest’ is quite debatable, looking at how much disruption an overwhelmed health system would be. And with only herd immunity to protect them, how many health professionals of all sorts you’d have left/needed to find before it could work again – hire from China/South Korea, or even EU maybe?

            Now, I am maybe biased, bc. with 15 years of a slowly deteriorating set of kidneys, half a year of dialysis followed by now a year of having a new kidney, and even though I pay good attention to my health (haven’t yet gotten anything major from my kindergarten wife, even when she had norovirus), I am clearly in one of the groups likely not to be there to enjoy the result if Germany/NL had decided to practice this ‘solution’. That might make me react a bit more skeptical.

  14. If this was “one of the most difficult days” for Hamilton, then he has had an easy life.

    1. We’ve all “had an easy life” compared to somebody. Lewis devoted his entire childhood to racing, missing out on a lot of what us “normal” kids would have experienced, he’s had very public issues with his father, he’s helped support a (half) brother with cerebral palsy and his relation status and problems have are constantly paraded in the media.

      Yes, he has millions in the bank and a job most of us could only dream of, but that doesn’t mean he sleeps well every single night…

      1. My point exactly. Why would he say that the cancellation of a race is so difficult for him?

        1. @ferrox-glideh Because his whole live is dedicated to racing?

          1. It’s not. He clearly loves a lot of other things besides racing as he has shown us countless times on social media.

    2. “I’ve raced my whole life. So much preparation has gone into being here, into every little detail. When hit with the harsh reality of not being able to do what I was born to do, life really is put into perspective.”

      Is there a link to this post? I can’t believe it isn’t an F1 meme poking fun at Lewis…. He can’t have actually said that.

      1. It is bewildering.

        1. I think the last part doesn’t sound great just out of context, but flip it around:

          For more than the last 25 years, essentially every action this guy has taken is geared towards racing. During the McLaren years he talked about sitting at a Christmas-time breakfast with the extended family and they’re digging into pancakes and bacon while he’s got a protein shake so he doesn’t put in extra weight. Vacations are not for enjoyment in and of themselves but to recharge ahead of the racing season. Almost no sportsman in any discipline has to be so disciplined as F1 drivers do in order to reach those heights (I remember hearing something from I think a Spanish or Latin American football coach who said F1 racers spend multiple times more hours in the gym or practicing than his players did). Everything he’s been doing for the last how many weeks has been leading up to the Australian Grand Prix, and for the first time in his career the race has been cancelled on the eve of the event (as opposed to in advance like Bahrain 2011 was).

          So while you could argue it’s overdramatic, even incredibly overdramatic, the fact that Hamilton sees it in such a way tells us how focused he actually is on racing. Perhaps to him this is like being an astronaut who has trained his entire life to go to the moon, and as he’s walking to the rocket the mission gets scrubbed.

          1. Well said @wushumr2 – Hamilton might sometimes seem more dramatic than many think needed, but that doesn’t mean that the sentiment isn’t quite understandable (and his judgement in this case rather sound).

          2. It is like an astronaut who has been to the moon 250 times having his 251st mission scrubbed.

  15. If the previous owners, the British pirates led by Hitler’s supporter Bernie, had already made Formula 1 transform into an obscene circus, these new owners, the Yankee cowboys will end up completely transforming it into an absolutely unsportsmanlike activity where money is king (Hamilton dixit).
    Of course, the drivers and team personnel have nothing to do with this.
    On the other hand, the team owners, managers and the complacent press are complicit in this pathetic reality.

  16. https://www.bbc.com/sport/motorsport/51868419
    Coronavirus: Formula E season suspended for two months

  17. Then why did Hamilton show up in Australia at all? Apparently, he’s driven by Cash is King, he just wants to put the blame on someone else.

    1. Everyone is willing to sacrifice someone else’s money for a just cause.

    2. I kinda agree with this and kinda don’t. Just sitting in his Monaco home refusing to go is commendable, but also, at the time, a lone voice. There are contracts to be honoured and I’m pretty sure at the time he wouldn’t have the backing of the team or FIA, so he’d be in a lot of trouble for refusing to go.

    3. He is an employee, he trusts his employers to make the right decision.
      By extension, he is employed by the FIA/FOM partnership

  18. In hindsight the situation looks exactly as it was. No more no less. Carey was forced to pull the pin. He was not given the choice. End of conversation.

  19. The decision over who called the race off was entirely down to insurance and whose insurer would be paying it.
    The teams didn’t want to call it off because they’re contracted to race, except when there is an external reason forcing them not to (McLaren).
    The Australian and State governments didn’t want to cancel because they’re contracted to host the race.
    And F1 didn’t want to cancel because they’re contracted to put the race on.
    The current situation is the best they could hope for as everyone is now sharing the blame between each other.
    Cash, or in this case insurance, is indeed king.

      1. But I think further to that, and you do mention the Australian Government, they had to also consider the tone they would be setting for the country. The cancelling of the F1 race no doubt either triggered or was in conjunction with stopping many many events, just as countries are doing bigtime globally. But of course countries have resisted doing this until the evidence was irrefutable, ie. only a few days ago, because the economic fallout and the risk of causing needless panic stands to be far far more devastating for far longer than the virus itself. Especially for Australia that just went through the devastating fires, the last thing they needed was this virus shutting the economy down.

        I have no criticism at all for F1 or Liberty or FIA in conjunction with the Australian Government wrestling with this tough tough issue and ultimately doing what millions of entities have had to wrap their heads around and still are in only the last two days. I envision that Carey couldn’t have just cancelled the race hours earlier without full agreement and go ahead to do so with the government, as they would have to be on board and ready to answer for the fallout to the entire country as to what cancelling the F1 race would signify to the whole population, not just F1 fans.

    1. Absolutely spot on. Force majeure could not be declared until there was a situation where the teams, the promoter, F1 & FIA could make a valid claim on their insurers. The one McLaren mechanic testing positive to covid-19 is the trigger for all those claims & lets the politicians step in with a ban whilst not get stung with a loss of earnings claim from F1. Slightly unfortunate everyone in the F1 circus wasn’t tested & cleared before getting on a plane really ~ Cancellation would have been announced a week ago & less of a drama all round.

  20. Yes, cancelled, at the 11th hour under overwhelming pressure and facing a PR nightmare. Hamilton wasn’t wide of the mark with his comment.

  21. I appreciate The Guardian may be off some people’s radar here, but I thought you might like to read what they have to say on Hamilton etc. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/mar/14/lewis-hamilton-stature-soars-as-f1-australian-grand-prix-cancelled

    1. Snap! Didn’t see your post when i posted above.

  22. First of all the cancelled after Hamilton spoke out

  23. The timing of the WHO pandemic declaration is the MAJOR influencer of the decision, many of us seem to be ignoring this.

  24. Carey is a moral and intellectual coward. He is on the US Fox “news” board of directors. Those stations had been denying the virus was even a real thing when he knew for a fact the seriousness of the pandemic.

  25. I wonder if any companies/organisations financially affected by this organised disaster will bring lawsuits against those responsible for this virus. There is already a rumour floating around that the financial sector will be compensated to the tune of billions, maybe trillions, of dollars worldwide. The US has already promised billions to those affected in some way.

  26. NeverElectric
    15th March 2020, 5:34

    The only person walking away from this with credit is Hamilton. Only he came out clearly against the earlier decision to proceed with the Grand Prix. Funny that some people on this forum who slagged him for saying the race should not be run, are now conspicuously silent.
    Carey is trying to be clever – and failing.
    It might be that we do not have an F1 season this year. Or ever again. Hamilton will still stand out for his courage in going against the orthodoxy when it mattered.

  27. If cash was not king, you wouldn’t have made the decision you made on Friday… …because you would have made it on Thursday afternoon, when it became inevitable. Delay had nothing to do with cash (since at that point, lawyers would have made it cheaper to cancel than continue, even if Liberty was footing the entire bill).

    Hamilton and McLaren come out with credit on this matter. In their own ways, they said and did, respectively, the things that needed saying and doing. I forgive the other teams (regardless of how they voted) because the behaviour of the FIA, Liberty and the Victoria state government gave the illusion that options were still on the table when they were not. I doubt anyone is in any way fooled by Chase’s words. Hamilton’s hypothesis was (if I recall correctly) shortly before word of the positive test reached the paddock. Building on his hypothesis, suggesting that cash would have resulted in continuing ignores a vital truth:

    If cash is king, necessity is emperor.

    Claiming that the broader situation was the trigger point when it was the situation within the paddock itself (i.e. that positive test, combined with the knowledge that COVID-19 can be infectious for over a week before symptoms first appear and that the full paddock had already been mingling for a day prior to the test – let alone anyone who was there beforehand for setup) that, from a legal standpoint, forced cancellation, ignores the role of necessity. Leaders who ignore necessity are unwise and tend to fail. This will do nothing to instill confidence in Liberty’s future response.

    I believe we will have a F1 season, but not until it makes some sort of sense to have one. Until then, it is necessary to not have one. If the FIA, Liberty and the promoters of the other Grands Prix have learned this lesson. I can only hope the latter actually have, because from this week’s evidence, we cannot depend on either of the first two doing so.

  28. without big cash, Lewis wouldnt drive silver car

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.