F1 would have bankrupted me, says Prodrive’s Richards

2020 F1 season

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Prodrive chairman David Richards says he doesn’t regret missing on opportunities to take the team into Formula 1 a decade ago.

The Banbury-based company, which has run F1, World Endurance Championship and World Rally Championship programmes for car manufacturers, came close to making its own entry into Formula 1 on more than one occasion.

One bid to enter the championship was scuppered in late 2007 following a threat of legal action from Williams over Prodrive’s plan to use cars purchased from McLaren.

Richards also submitted an entry for the 2010 world championship, but was passed over in favour of other projects. All three teams which entered the team that year have since collapsed.

Speaking to RaceFans in an exclusive interview, Richards said he expects Prodrive would have faced similar hardships if they’d joined the grid at the time.

“I’ve often thought of that, I’d probably be bankrupt by now had that been the case,” he said. “But who knows? Strange things happen.

“It’s certainly an area that’s fraught with challenge at the moment. I take my hat off to everyone in there who’s keeping their head above water and doing do a great job.

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“But it’s not easy and I take my hat off to them all because I just know how difficult it is. And that was in the normal times. In these times, it must be extremely challenging.”

Richards said he isn’t considering a future F1 entry with Prodrive. “I think it unlikely,” he said.

“I’ve had opportunities. I’ve been there, done that. We’re diversifying quite significantly as Prodrive these days. We’ve moved into realms of completely different areas.

“We’ve got an organisation now where more than two thirds of our revenue, probably about 70 percent, comes from outside motorsport. From a whole range of activities, from electric trucks, which we’re making at the moment with aircraft manufacturers to environmental projects. So it’s a very different world from where we were only 10 years ago, say, when we were still involved in Formula 1 and rallying in those days as well.”

The 67-year-old is also the chairman of Britain’s motor racing body Motorsport UK, which yesterday announced a new funding package to help struggling British motor sport clubs. Richards has been tipped as a potential candidate to run for president of the FIA after Jean Todt’s current term expires at the end of next year, but wouldn’t be drawn on any future plans.

“I’ve got lots of things on the horizon,” he said. “I need to tidy up a lot of the business that I’m doing at the moment first of all. I’ve got far too many activities on at the moment and my main priority now is to simplify my life so that I can focus on a few things that I really would like to do rather than the things that I have to do.”

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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...

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  • 4 comments on “F1 would have bankrupted me, says Prodrive’s Richards”

    1. He is not wrong, that story of new teams joining F1 only to find it hostile enviornment has been repeated for a long time. With F1 under Mafia control things will never change and looks like current human malware situation will only make matters worse for smaller teams on grid.

    2. Good story of opportunities and/or choices gone differently, it is clear he has been able to move on and find a different path, which has probably been a lot more healthy for himself and his company, even if not as high-profile (flaming disaster potential though).

    3. Always rated him. And he did a very good job with Benetton and BAR if my memory serves me well.

    4. Magnus Rubensson (@)
      16th April 2020, 8:16

      He called it right.

    Comments are closed.