Sport

6 speaking issues in Method One


Williams potentially up for sale, McLaren and Renault cutting staff and world champions Mercedes having to deny they are pondering a dramatic exit from Formula One.

All this and the season still hasn’t started yet.

AFP Sport looks at the current state of Formula One:

1. Williams confident of future

The likes of Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and Damon Hill were all world champions behind the wheel of a Williams car.

However, it’s 23 years since the British team last claimed the championship courtesy of Jacques Villeneuve.

On Friday, and after two years of struggles, Williams said that they are considering selling up after a multi-million pound drop in the company’s financial results.

The William Grand Prix Holdings group reported an adjusted loss of £13 million for the year ending 2019.

After posting a £12.9 million profit in 2018, Williams have responded to the blow by seeking new investment.

A minority or majority stake will be offered to investors, along with the option for an outright buy-out.

Deputy team principal Claire Williams insisted that the team will keep racing.

“I have every confidence we will find the investment we need,” she told the BBC.

In 2019, Williams finished last in the championship, scoring just one point.

Friday also saw them split with title sponsor Rokit.

2. Renault cut but don’t run

Renault said they will continue to run an F1 team, despite announcing nearly 15 000 job losses in the wake of plummeting car sales.

“We said publicly and we confirm that we intend to stay in Formula One,” said interim Renault chief Clotilde Delbos.

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“The news about the new budget cap is very good for us, because we had less in this area than some of our competitors which were spending a lot of money.”

Renault were fourth in the constructors standings in 2018 but slipped back to fifth last year.

3. McLaren scale back

The McLaren group is cutting 1 200 jobs and significantly scaling down its racing division after the coronavirus crisis hit sales.

The restructuring affects over a quarter of the company’s 4 000 jobs with executive chairperson Paul Walsh warning the cuts “will have a significant impact on the shape and size of our F1 team”.

British media reports said about 70 of the racing team’s 800 jobs will be eliminated.

McLaren, the second-oldest team on the grid, have won 12 drivers’ titles – including with racing legends Alain Prost and the late Ayrton Senna – and the constructors’ championship on eight occasions.

They were fourth in the constructors in 2019 with Carlos Sainz, bound for Ferrari in 2021 to replace four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, taking a creditable sixth in the drivers standings.

4. Spending capped

Spending by teams will be capped at $145 million in 2021 with a subsequent limit of $135m by 2023 as the sport’s rulers attempt to stem the bleeding from the coronavirus pandemic.

Before the pandemic struck, a spending cap of $175m was set to be introduced next year in a bid to help even up the competition.

As well as a budget cap, the FIA also agreed to a host of changes to technical and sporting regulations.

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The most significant of these is the introduction of a handicap system for aerodynamic development, also set for 2021.

“Formula 1 wins,” said Zak Brown, the chief executive of cash-strapped McLaren.

5. Mercedes staying put

World champions Mercedes’ parent company Daimler rejected reports that they could quit the sport.

“Speculation regarding a potential withdrawal from Formula 1 continues to be unfounded and irresponsible,” a Daimler statement said.

“The sport has taken the right measures to address the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and its future financial sustainability, and we welcome these steps.

“It is our clear intention to continue competing in Formula 1.”

Mercedes have won the drivers’ and constructors’ championships in each of the past six seasons.

Last year, they captured 15 of the 21 races as Lewis Hamilton romped to a sixth world title.

6. Now, what about the racing?

The 2020 season has been in cold storage ever since the chaotic retreat from the proposed season opener in Australia in March.

Cancellations and postponements have piled up but F1 hopes to get the season started with back-to-back races in Austria on 5 and 12 July.

However, Silverstone’s hopes of also staging two races are on a knife-edge after the British government said they intended to introduce a two-week quarantine for all visitors to the UK from mid-June.


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