Formula 1 owner Liberty Media has been urged to help the smaller F1 teams survive the COVID-19 crisis by the chairman of Motorsport UK, David Richards.
There will be no races held before the Canadian Grand Prix on June 14 at the very earliest, with the countries where all of the teams are based — the United Kingdom, Italy and Switzerland — all in various states of lockdown. Richards used to be team principal of Benetton and BAR and now heads up motorsport in the UK, and he believes F1’s ownership group needs to focus on protecting the smaller teams at this time.
“A lot will depend on the way Formula 1 behaves throughout this,” Richards told the Press Association. “F1 cannot afford to lose teams at the back of the grid because that would be a disaster for them. Bernie (Ecclestone) made sure that when there were tough times the smaller teams were looked after and I hope that Liberty see the common sense in that, too.
“The big manufacturers such as Mercedes and Renault will be OK, but if you look at Williams and Racing Point, for example, it is not going to be easy for them. There is a distinct danger of operations going out of business.
“There will be motorsport companies who do not have the resources to get through this period. It is going to be a real challenge.”
A number of changes have already been agreed and announced by F1 in response to the impact of the pandemic, with the 2021 technical regulations delayed by a year and teams taking a mandatory three-week shutdown before the end of April in order to reduce overheads and open up the potential for more races — and with them more income — later this year.
F1 CEO and chairman Chase Carey this week stated the sport is currently aiming for between 15 and 18 grands prix this season, by extending the final race beyond the previous date of November 29.