Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

F1 can survive if Ferrari leaves – Brown

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1 can survive if Ferrari quits over the budget cap but it may not last if it gives in to their demands, McLaren team principal Zak Brown believes.

On Thursday Brown criticised Ferrari’s refusal to accept a further lowering of the budget cap which will come into force next year. While the cap was originally set at $175 million with exceptions, Ferrari is opposed to reducing it beneath $145 million. Brown believes it should be lowered to $100 million.

Ferrari has indicated it would consider racing in other championships if it felt F1’s cap was set too low. Brown said he does not want to see that happen, but is concerned the opposite could prove to be worse for F1.

“I would hate to see them leave the sport,” he said. “I would hate to see anybody leave the sport. So that’s certainly not something that we’d like to see happen.

“However I think the sport can survive with 18 cars on the grid. I think there are other power unit manufacturers that could cover the two teams that are currently powered by them. So, yes, I think we could.

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“On the flip side. I think if we land on a budget cap too high, and that ends up turning off those that are putting their hands in their pocket and investing in Formula 1, I don’t think Formula 1 can survive with 14 cars on the grid. I think 16 is right on the line and 18 it can.

“So I think I think it could survive without them, but I’d really much prefer to have them stay in the sport.I think the sport’s much better off obviously with them than without.”

McLaren’s shareholders are “extremely frustrated with the current state of Formula 1”, said Brown, and want the sport to become more cost-effective.

“They are prepared to invest in the sport because it does wonderful things for our road car company. But I’ve been asked to present to them a global motorsport platform, in which very much Formula 1 is the tip of that iceberg.

“That’s why we’re pushing so hard. I don’t want to go back and have the conversation of ‘what are the alternatives’ if we’re in a position where we feel we can’t, long-term, earn the right to be competitive or to participate in a sport that just loses a substantial amount of money and is not worth the investment.”

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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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  • 62 comments on “F1 can survive if Ferrari leaves – Brown”

    1. Kelly kar tak chow
      25th April 2020, 10:08

      I don’t think F1 can survive more than 16 months if Ferrari left.

    2. I was about to remark that this doesn’t have to be a question of survival to be a rather huge blow to any series remaining without Ferrari, but the reality is that there won’t be Formula 1 without them. (and I mean that both ways)

      This whole media blitz is based on the questionable concept of cutting off your nose to spite your face. No one should really be that ignorant.

      1. @proesterchen unless I’m misunderstanding your use of it, I don’t think that analogy works here.

        I think it’s more akin to “cutting off one rotten nose to prevent the rot spreading to the other healthy noses and grow 4 or 5 additional noses to further benefit the face as a whole”.

        1. What scenario results in a higher valuation of McLaren Racing?

          If they sign on to participate in a series with Ferrari (and the competitors that will be retained thanks to that) using the current financial regulations or if they sign on to a series sans Ferrari (and, as a result sans Mercedes-Benz, IMHO) using a $100 million budget cap?

          Do you see Zak signing up to any agreement that either doesn’t also include provisions for the continued participation of Ferrari or, alternatively, clauses that would allow for significant changes to the terms of the agreement should continued participation of Ferrari not be secured?

          1. @proesterchen what Zak is questioning is whether a series that ploughs on with the current financial regulations will have other teams left for Ferrari to compete against.

            If the series were to press on with the current financial regulations and with Ferrari, but were to end up imploding because the costs were unsustainable, that’s not going to do much for the valuation of anybody involved, including Ferrari.

            If the alternative scenario was a series which didn’t have Ferrari, but the long term health of the sport was significantly stronger, then yes, that would probably add more value to McLaren if the alternative option ended up being financially unsustainable.

            1. seems like he’s doing liberty’s bidding for them. to cut the costs so that the stock price can rise. everything else is baloney. otherwise, he’s deluded if he thinks mclaren would mean anything without ferrari

    3. Bruno Verrari
      25th April 2020, 10:09

      F1 can also survive if McLaren leaves…a few may drop a tear, but not two ;)!
      It would certainly cut the bullcrap (like this) in the media…once Ron, now Zak…may it be the environment?

      1. Bruno Verrari, a Ferrari fan, perchance?

        1. Bruno Verrari
          25th April 2020, 19:44

          A big Ferrari fan with a strong German driver preference (although not being German ;))!

          1. Not exactly a surprising revelation, but a sign that perhaps your instinct is to automatically defend the team against an attack instead of asking whether the person making those questions has a point.

            The question is, do you believe that ploughing on with the current situation is healthy for the series as a whole or not? There are those who talk about teams wanting the prestige of beating Ferrari, but the problem is, it’s become increasingly clear over the last decade that there are now very few who think that the prestige of beating Ferrari justifies the cost in doing so – particularly when coupled to Formula 1’s declining viewing figures and the rise of rival series, particularly the rapid growth of Formula E.

            A series that has Ferrari, but ultimately is not financially sustainable, helps nobody, Ferrari included – they themselves have admitted in their financial statements that it would be quite detrimental to their finances to see F1 collapse.

      2. Sonny Crockett
        25th April 2020, 18:03

        McLaren leaving F1 would be huuuuuge!

        In the UK – where MOST F1 teams are based – it would be bigger than Ferrari leaving the sport.

        Supporting a particular team is one thing. Being ignorant about the sport and its heritage is another! ;)

        1. Bruno MacaDamm
          25th April 2020, 19:53

          Rome used to be big, too – even all ways going there…but we have built more roads and new empires since.

          Europe, nor the world would miss Maca…hardly even notice… but they could cap themselves ad absurdum and run around Norman Foster’s fishless, cloudy lake ;)))!

        2. Hahahaha — I think you’re the one who needs a history lesson.

    4. F1 and Ferrari are not inseparable never have been, Ferrari just like to people think that. But Ferrari won’t be going anywhere as they are on a very good wicket with F1.
      F1 gives the best value for money advertising for a sports car manufacturer there is. Currently there is no credible sports car series for a manufacturer like Ferrari to showcase their cars.
      Which means they would have to spend a lot more than 500 mill pa to get the same coverage. Also they would lose the flow on effect of technology to their Rd cars.
      The smaller budget cap would inspire even greater innovation with the teams making every single nut and bolt count. Maybe that’s what Ferrari are worried about, they may think they would lose out in a direct head to head fixed cost innovation contest.

      1. That is the point, where would Ferrari go?

        1. where would McLaren go? or, who would care?

    5. “Ferrari has indicated it would consider racing in other championships if it felt F1’s cap was set too low.”

      Is there any race in the world which cost the same or higher than F1 ?

      Ferrari needs F1 more than any brand in the world .

    6. Brown believes it should be lowered to $100 million.

      While $100M sounds like an anathema to some teams, maybe even an impossibly small amount of money to run an F1 team on, the lack of racing means Liberty Media are basically relying on savings and such like to pay the teams, so maybe $100M isn’t so bad after all. SARS-CoV-2 seems to be a very difficult virus to eradicate. That doesn’t mean F1 can’t race again, but it does mean F1 needs to approach racing as if they were going to be doing an operation in a hospital. I suspect part of the problem is F1’s rules are built around teams having 80 or more people on site, maybe the rules even demand such a number. Recently there was a report from China where one person who returned from overseas infected 70 people. I think F1 would feel very guilty if they left behind a trail of sick people after a GP. So F1 needs to do some serious cropping to fit their 10 x 80 picture into something like a 10 x 15 picture frame, and they may need to crop it again too. Part of that cropping is rules need to be changed or modified so the car isn’t just cheaper to build, but less person-at-the-track dependent and easier to operate.
      In regards to the reduced budget cap, I think Ferrari should run with the pack on this and accept the $100M or $125M Budget Cap. Later on, when things get better, then they can put in a proposal to increase the budget cap. Ferrari aren’t going to go racing in a racing series with just themselves. F1 is their best choice. There’s a whole lot of Covid-19 related changes coming down the road that will affect Ferrari, for example the Italian Government will increase taxes and bring in new ones as well. Are they going to say “No, we won’t pay the new rate of taxes”? No, of course they aren’t.

    7. If Ferrari which to spend more money they could always have a B team or two. Both Maserati and Alfa Romeo is in the family. With a 100 million dollar cap x 3 per team they could still spend the 300 million they spend today.

      1. that might be the angle. bcz the other way doesn’t make sense. McLaren likely wants a b-team of their own too.

        1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
          27th April 2020, 9:18

          If McLaren wants a historic b-team they could try to get the Cooper brand back – after all, Bruce McLaren started out in F1 with the Cooper team in 1959.

          Not sure if that’s a realistic thought. But it’s in line with the Strolls bringing back the Aston Martin name.

    8. I don’t want Ferrari to leave, but neither do I think F1 could have less of a future without them if making the right choices.

      If I had to choose between:
      a) 10 team F1 with Ferrari where 7 teams are struggling financially and still cannot compete; or,
      b) 13 franchise $100m budget cap F1 without Ferrari with all teams financially sounds and ingenuity (rather than spending power) determining success.
      Then I would pick b) in a heartbeat.
      I might have to get used to some new names. But as these are franchises and financially healthy I know they will become household names over time.

      1. Sonny Crockett
        25th April 2020, 18:05

        Well said.

        100% agree.

      2. This. I honestly don’t care if Ferrari walk. When teams threaten the governing body at their height is one thing, when F1 is struggling to be varied and exciting and competitive and in fact Ferrari themselves being unable to decide which is their elbow and which their behinds I don’t think F1 will fizzle out somehow.

        If we get a tight, fair, competitive sport as a result? Er result then.

      3. Magnus Rubensson (@)
        26th April 2020, 19:45

        Agreed. F1 is not dependent on Ferrari.
        F1 is already missing champion teams Lotus, Brabham, Tyrrell, Benetton, March, BRM, Cooper, Matra and Brawn.
        F1 is also missing other classic teams like Porsche, Maserati, Jaguar, Surtees and many others.

        Personally I would also like to see Ferrari hypercars in the Le Mans series. That would be very well in line with their heritage (as is “threatening to leave F1” … unless I’m very much mistaken). :)

    9. F1 can survive and thrive without Ferrari.

      No team is bigger, or even close, to the series.

      1. yes, it will survice. like champ car tried after cart split with the marquee teams

    10. As I said before I think this is a pretty idle threat by Ferrari. They are getting a really good return from F1 overall and I really cannot see them wanting to leave the sport or divert resources away from it. Equally though Liberty would be very concerned about them leaving especially with their history and long-term commitment to F1.

      I did not realise that McLaren were hoping for the budget cap to be reduced to as low as $100 million though. I am not sure how much support there is across the teams for this. However, F1 really needs new investment not just going along with the status quo. Then there is also the threat that one or more of the major manufacturers could call time on their involvement. Renault being the most likely I think.

      In view of all this, I think on balance it might be best for Ferrari to give in and accept a $145/150 million cap. They would also gain great publicity from this by being seen to make a sacrifice for the good of the sport. It’s quite unlikely they would suffer much in the medium/long term anyway by accepting this.

      1. I think on balance it might be best for Ferrari to give in and accept a $145/150 million cap.

        I thought that the $150m budget cap was already agreed and accepted by all teams, @phil-f1-21.
        But there is so much news, rumours, and discussions around that I’ve lost view of what’s agreed and what’s not.

        1. @coldfly I think you may actually be correct. I have read elsewhere now that this has been ‘informally’ agreed for 2021. Interesting. In this case then maybe Ferrari ought to accept/propose $130/125 million. They could take the initiative perhaps.

          1. Ferrari have already accepted a cut from $175 million to $145 million I dont see why Ferrari should keep having to bend over backwards for other teams. So far it seems McLaren are the only team trying to get the budget cap down to $100 million and Ferrari are being labelled the bad guy for refusing. But I’m willing to bet Mercedes & redbull dont want to lower it any further ad they’d be forced to fire hundreds of staff

      2. Ok, let’s settle this issue, as ultimate fine Todts should oblige Ferrari to hand Brown engine drafts, without the need of photocopies, this time.

        1. Sorry wasn’t mind in answer ti Phil, i though to be at end of thread

    11. How does the height of the budget cap suddenly mean that teams drop out? They don’t have to spend up till the full cap amount. At least the bigger teams will be capped and that will mean their budget will be brought a lot closer than it was already.

    12. It would have come across with a bit more conviction, if he had indicated “F1 WILL survive without Ferrari.”

    13. Maybe McLaren and its CEO should instead pause their participation on F1 for a couple of years to recoup and then return stronger as it seems it’s the team with more financial difficulties. I always thought Williams, Haas or Sauber would be the ones struggling but apparently it’s McLaren. I’m sure F1 can survive without McLaren

      1. McLaren see this as an opportunity for F1 to grasp the cost of going racing during this unprecedented crisis. Put it this way, McLaren have been the most vocal is probably the best way to put it. I can’t imaging Williams Hass or even force what ever they are called now a days disagreeing.

    14. Ferrari have done very well to make themselves appear so vital to F1’s survival that the mere implication of their leaving is considered such a drama.

      If the sport can’t survive without (1) competitor then it doesn’t deserve to – irrespective of the historical connotations. All that does is highlight the enormous power imbalance between that one and the others – let alone shine an uncomfortable light that despite being so vital, important and significant that they still haven’t won a title in years.

      F1 should be making more efforts to ensure smaller, lesser funded teams survive and attracting more than worrying whether Ferrari will take their ball elsewhere.

      1. @rocketpanda @phylyp Indeed. And although there is some argument that teams should be allowed to spend what they have, I think there is much less argument for such an inbalanced and outright unfair pay structure. So I’d suggest FOM starts there. Make it almost flat (within 15% front-back) and let Ferrari stay or go but stop enabling them to drag down the sport.

      2. The DNA of F1 is Ferrari.

        Ferrari started selling road cars to fund racing hence why they are intertwined with F1, teams like Mclaren and Mercedes are in F1 as a marketing exercise, should they see they can’t attach their brand to Ferrari will exit quicker than Ferrari have been threatening to leave.

        Also I wont be surprised if Mclaren go bankrupt, as they have been struggling for a while.

        1. McLaren aren’t going to go bankrupt with Saudi (private) and Bahraini Government owners.

          Ferrari were going to join CART in 1986 if they didn’t get their way. What happened to that?

          I’m sure Liberty would be delighted to have a $100m budget cap. They wouldn’t have to pay the teams as much. Anyone signed up yet for 2021? I guess Ferrari are holding out for a bigger share.

        2. @rockie Ferrari were enthusiastic about motorsport, but Formula 1 wasn’t Enzo’s first passion – he was traditionally more enthusiastic about sportscar racing and not Formula 1.

          It’s fairly noticeable when you compare the technological level of Ferrari’s sportscars from the 1960s against their Formula 1 cars, particularly in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was arguably political pressure from Fiat to focus Ferrari’s efforts on a single activity, the financial clout of Porsche and pressure from Forgheri that saw sportscar racing being dropped – Enzo probably would have preferred to drop F1 and focus on sportscar racing instead.

          Also, claiming that McLaren are in F1 as a marketing exercise does come across as rather strange when you are talking about a team that is the second oldest in Formula 1 and has a heritage extending back 54 years.

          1. anon,
            Spot on ! Ferrari sportscars from the late 60s and early 70s were very advanced. The 512 M was an example of that and despite being a very good car (second favorite prototype of Forghieri), the project was officially dropped and the updated car from the following year was deployed in the championship only by private teams.
            Would you please explain the role Forghieri played in dropping Ferrari sportscar program ? I have read some interviews where Forghieri was nostalgic about the prototypes he designed in that period (512 M,P4,312P…)

            One another note, sportscar racing in the 60s, where the big constructors competed against each others, was even bigger than F1. Enzo never hided his dislike pour “les garagistes”.

            McLaren are indeed a historic F1 team, no question about that. However and since they have established their road car division and start selling road cars – I’m not talking about the F1 of Gordon Murray because that was a great project – they become a team with the no sporting ambition. The branding become even more important than championships. Just like Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham in football.

            Those teams (just like McLaren) don’t actually care about the results as long as they are doing fine financially. That politic would only produce midfield teams, nothing more. Teams with a sporting ambition like Ferrari (last WCC win in 2008) , Liverpool (last premier league title in 1990), Juventus (last champions league title in 1996), Real Madrid (champions league drought 70s,80s and early 90s), Barcelona (first champions league title in 1992), Bayern (lost the champions league title in their stadium in 2012 after ten years and comeback to win the next year) when they don’t win the title they are chasing they see it as an epic failure despite they are more than fine from a financial standpoint.

            Teams like Arsenal lose 8-2 in the premier league and Wenger says he’s not concerned about his job. McLaren has become the new Arsenal of F1, the fact that their CEO is a marketing guy says it all.

            1. @tifoso1989 Forghieri does seem to have affection for those cars, but at the same time, in his autobiography he states that he was one of those arguing for Enzo to drop his plans to concentrate on sportscar racing, arguing that they wouldn’t beat Porsche and that Ferrari would be better off concentrating its resources on Formula 1 instead.

            2. anon, thanks for the insight !

          2. Even with Fiat’s 50 percent ownership of Ferrari they couldn’t continue doing both F1 and sportscar racing. The resources needed to sustain development of both programs by 1974 was beyond even a company like Ferrari’s capability. They would have needed to expand the company to the point where it would have been a financial burden for Fiat. Even Matra- a company funded and sponsored by the French government struggled to do both effectively- they pulled out of F1 after 1972 and concentrated on sportscar racing for 2 more seasons.

    15. If you lose Ferrari, you probably lose sauber and you definitely lose Haas. Sauber is getting substantial financial support from Ferrari for donning the Alfa Romeo colors and badging and Haas’ relationship with Ferrari is more than just the engine. I doubt Mercedes, Renault or Honda would give Haas what Ferrari has and Haas is already considering leaving as it is. No chance they stay if Ferrari and half their car components leave the sport.

    16. Since we know the teams and Liberty read this site, I will reiterate:
      you are already on the limit with car numbers
      20 is the absolute minimum and 30 should be the five year goal.
      I will absolutely stop paying to see the series if you drop any more cars.

      1. So just give in to Ferrari and build wider doors for their heads to fit through?

    17. Sonny Crockett
      25th April 2020, 18:11

      Presumably Ferrari need to spend the extra $50m per season to help them circumvent the rules?

      That might sound sarcastic (unlike President Trump the other day) but it should be taken into consideration.

      How can the team that spent money in order to (allegedly) cheat be allowed to have so much influence over the future of the sport?

      If Ferrari left in a huff they would come back within a few years as would any team with F1 in its blood.

      1. I don’t think Ferrari can afford to leave F1 without suffering severe damage to their reputation and their finances because they have for decades put all of their eggs in that single F1 basket as an inherent part of their marketing and business plans. If they are forced to scale back or if their exaggerated influence was reduced, they would stay. Even if they were finishing the championship in 4th place year after year, they would stay. They need the F1 connection to market their product because they have designed that into their business.

    18. Go to a 3 championship format:

      1. Driver Champion
      2. Team/Chassis Championship
      3. Power Unit Championship

      Make a rule that says power unit suppliers may not field teams or otherwise support teams. This keeps manufacturers from completely dominating the sport by fielding a team/chassis/driver combination only a huge manufacturer can afford.

    19. F1 needs to grow a pair and call Ferrari’s bluff once and for all. Ferrari needs F1 just as much as F1 needs Ferrari.

    20. Hemingway (@)
      25th April 2020, 20:20

      Been hearing the same line for decades now. Who cares

    21. Ahmed Alhojairat
      25th April 2020, 21:18

      Am a Ferrari fan.. but there is no team bigger than sport.. sometimes I just can’t understand Ferrari attitude

    22. Ferrari cant admit it, they need F1 waaaay more than F1 needs them.

    23. You are lowering your Standards, Fi it’s not stock car Racing, it’s altimate,highest level you Wed to incurage top Brand Racing, I already not watching F1, Danny D’Aleandro

    24. F1 will survive sure, but the main attraction of F1 for major teams is a chance to defeat Ferrari in their own game(arguably).
      so if Ferrari leaves .. I think mercedes will quit too after a season without them and F1 will eventually only filled with mostly independent teams not sure that a good thing or not, it will please some fans because it’s will give impression of even playing ground.
      Factory teams who stay might dominate or might fail and of course humiliated by independent teams is bad marketing so I believe mostly will leaves

    25. Of course F1 can survive without Ferrari and vice versa, but it’s a symbiotic relationship. If Ferrari leaves probably Alfa Romeo as well and you have 8 teams remaining. Haas that’s on the knife edge might stay or they might leave. Let’s be optimistic and say that they stay despite not having parts and an engine. Let’s be more optimistic and say that they find an engine supplier, and they manage to source parts from Mercedes similar to W10. They become competitive, so much so that Renault is now behind Force India, Haas and McLaren. They are now only better than Williams, and no customers buying their engines.
      Alternatively, Haas also leave
      Maybe new teams will join.
      But Post Covid-19 the one thing Liberty will not want is getting back, after price share falling to find themselves with at most 16 cars and no fans.
      Yes there are those “Ferrari fans” who will claim to leave with Ferrari but return later (personally I joined F1 in 2016 Mexico Qualifying and if Ferrari leaves I know I won’t be missed as well) but American businesses and investors are super huge on Share Price, and Post Covid-19 with no Ferrari will hurt the share price.
      Mercedes will probably stay and if they’re sustainable upto 2025 they might stick it for the long term.
      What people shout at the top of their lungs (including media) is that Ferrari can leave. But what people hope and don’t lie that you don’t is that it isn’t the first domino in the collapse of F1.
      Since I joined recently I can say Motorsport in general is in a slow decline, my generation of Automatic gear shifts, less DIY possible cars and ride sharing services with little disposable income isn’t as crazy for Motorsport as our predecessors. But most of them know Schumacher and Ferrari and to a lesser extent Hamilton.

    26. The 1973 season was a bad one for Ferrari- they skipped the Dutch and German GP’s that year, but that didn’t stop people from going. Even without Ferrari the Nordschleife still had its usual capacity crowd of 375,000 people there. But one race that would definitely be afflicted would be the Italian GP. That race has been well attended only because of Ferrari, even when they weren’t doing well.

    27. The argument from Mattia Binotto is that if we are going below 150 Million then there should two different budget caps for customer teams and Manufacturer teams. Unlike Mclaren Ferrari manufactures each and everypart in the car on their own and supply the end product to customers . You have to think that there is a huge amount of R&D and Personnel that goes into manufacturing. Mclaren is just buying the parts and they are blaming ferrari . It’s not a fair argument that’s why as helmut marko mentioned, Mercedes is also supporting ferrari’s argument of separate budget caps for manufacturers if it goes below 145 million.

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