The time for "constructive" talking is over

17/04/2020
NEWS STORY

Almost from the moment they received the keys to F1, Chase Carey and his team were quick to rubbish the previous management.

Offering Bernie Ecclestone a meaningless title, Chase and the gang wasted no time in criticising his "dictatorial" approach, while also hitting out for failing to take the sport forward, particularly in terms of sponsorship, the digital age and the youth market.

Yet here we are, over three years later and while the sport might have a plush new London HQ, a logo and a theme tune, it is looking at a future where it is entirely possible that it might - to use Ross Brawn's word - "collapse".

While Chase and the gang cannot be blamed for the coronavirus that threatens the sport - though like many governments around the world it could have reacted quicker and better - the rot that threatened F1 was already there.

And now, at a time there is talk of losing as many as four teams, the bickering continues.

As the good ship F1 heads towards the iceberg, the crew is arguing about seating arrangements for dinner while the captain provides a virtual cruise in sunnier climes for the passengers.

If ever the sport needed a hero, someone to grab the wheel and shout; "enough, let's get this sorted", it is now.

While yesterday's meeting of the team bosses, Chase Carey and Jean Todt has been described as "constructive", the fact is that once again it ended in stalemate with no solution... meanwhile, that iceberg is inching ever closer.

Having got the budget cap down to $150m, the likes of McLaren want it lower still, while Ferrari and Red Bull want it higher.

And for those wondering why it's just Ferrari and Red Bull calling for the upper limit and not Mercedes as well... join the dots.

In a masterpiece of understatement, Todt took to twitter to describe the video conference as "important", adding that all involved were working to "build together a New Deal for the future of our sport”.

What future?

As the UK government announced that the lockdown will continue for at least another three weeks, in Wuhan, where we were told the situation had vastly improved, 'reported' deaths were up 50%.

Yet, still those "constructive" talks saw Austria touted as the season opener and continued talk of multiple races at Silverstone.

Amidst talk of dropping the budget cap even lower to $130m in 2022, having set it at $145m next year, McLaren is still pushing for a $100m limit.

Meanwhile, the teams are understood to have reacted positively to a proposal whereby budgets for aerodynamic development are introduced on a sliding scale in reverse order to the championship standings, meaning Williams could spend the most and Mercedes the least. Which if nothing else means that Michael Latifi might have to dig down the back of the sofa for a few more million.

The image accompanying Todt Twitter post showed the Frenchman looking intently at his laptop as though he were searching Amazon for a bargain DVD, whereas we needed to see someone with their sleeves rolled up, banging the table and trying to talk sense into all those involved, pointing out that massive elephant (iceberg) in the room.

The reason Mercedes wasn't so vocal is clear, the German team - certainly as we currently know it - is out of here, to be followed by Haas and Renault.

What remains to be seen is whether Chase, Jean and the rest can sort this mess out, prevent the loss of more teams and hopefully make the sport an attractive proposition for outsiders looking at buying into it.

The time for "constructive" talking is over, F1 needs action... in every sense.

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Published: 17/04/2020
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