Todt warns F1 at risk of losing manufacturers

Formula 1 is not immune to the dangers of car manufacturers turning their back on motor racing after the coronavirus pandemic, warns FIA president Jean Todt.

With motorsport’s governing body pushing hard to bring down what it considers to be still ‘crazy’ costs to compete in F1, Todt says he is not taking it for granted that all the current 10 teams will stay in grand prix racing.

Asked by in an exclusive interview if was confident all the current outfits will still be around by 2021, he said: “No. Next year I am hoping that everyone will stay.

“That’s why we must listen to everybody. Even the big ones, you must never take anything for granted. So we must consider everything. Again we must be humble, we love it [motor racing] but it is not essential for society. So we must make sure that we make proper choices, proper decisions.”

F1 teams are due to hold another conference call with the FIA and F1 chiefs on Friday to discuss a more drastic cut in the planned budget cap, which has been already been reduced to $150 million per year. The FIA wants to bring it down much more.

But amid resistance from some teams about a further drop, with Ferrari and Red Bull understood to be reluctant to further slash spending which would force job cuts, Todt thinks a totally new approach has to be accepted.

“In each disaster, in each crisis, you have a lot of bad but you have some good,” he said. “So, among the good is that we have the opportunity of making things better for the future.

“And mainly in F1, we reached some heights, which for me are not reasonable and which we need to address.

“Incidentally, I was calculating this morning that with what we want to impose on the teams, together with the F1 group, the budget will be with a new figure between $150 million for a small team up to over $300m for a big one, which does not include the cost of the development of the engine for manufacturers.

“This is still crazy. So can you even imagine where we were? And still we face resistance from some of them.”

Speaking specifically about manufacturers, Todt said global predictions of mass unemployment may shift the focus of the car makers away from an involvement in racing.

“I don’t think that the priority number one now for a manufacturer is to secure continuity in motor racing,” he said.

“I was just reading a UN report today on the Sustainable Development Goal, which is planning 25 million people losing their job. So in a way that’s why I do respect the program of each company.

“But if a company is losing a few dozens of people in a racing team, I don’t think it is dramatic. The thing that would be dramatic will be to lose four teams in F1 for example.

“I really hope that everybody will take the full picture, but not one individual picture. And that’s what we tried to do with the Formula One Group.”

Todt said that key to the future was in persuading those involved in running teams that there was a good future for the sport.

“I hope a few team owners or team sponsors will keep the motivation,” he said. “That’s why we must make sure we don’t discourage them, because they may say ‘OK, after all of that, what is the purpose? Do I still like it? Do I still need it?’

“So we must encourage them to make sure they still like it and they still need it. On that, we have a responsibility.

“But honestly, I cannot speak on their behalf. I don’t know into detail their business and the way they are. That has been in Formula 1 since the existence of Formula 1, people coming and leaving. I hope at this present time they will stay.”

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