McLaren Renault Formula 1 Team boss Zak Brown has spoken out on Formula 1‘s contract negotiations, saying that whilst he hopes these negotiations can take place behind closed doors, ‘some teams’ might make things more public to further their bargaining.
Each team currently has an individual contract with Formula 1, ensuring they will compete until 2020. These contracts differ wildly between teams, with Scuderia Ferrari‘s in particular offering features that no other teams have. They have, among other things, a veto that allows the team to block rule changes they don’t like. With rumours that this could be removed from their renewed contract, there are talks that Ferrari might leave altogether.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Brown aired concerns that certain teams might be ‘destructive’ in their negotiations, and could hinder the progress being made within the sport.
“My big concern now is the negotiations for the new contract will be tough, some teams will be tougher than others and I think we know who,” said Brown. “I hope, but I’m not confident, that they can negotiate behind the scenes and not too much through the public, which I don’t think it’s going to be the case because they already are, and hurt any forward momentum that we’ve now created by giving concern.
“Any time people think a strike is going to come in a sport, they start ‘well why don’t you guys go figure that out and then we’ll look at joining’. So I just hope that they are not too destructive in the negotiation process.
“Ultimately, I think it will all get done so it will be nothing more than negotiation but we saw last time where it got to, ’09 with the breakaway.”
‘The breakaway’ was a decision by Formula 1 Teams Association teams in 2009 to leave the sport and create a new racing series, as a response to proposed rule changes from the FIA for the 2010 season. The teams even got as far as creating, and leaking, a provisional calendar for the season. Fortunately the issue was resolved with the signing of a new Concorde Agreement, which secured the sport’s future until 2012.
Brown says that whilst he doesn’t believe another breakaway will happen, he could believe it being used as a tactic to further some teams’ negotiations.
“I don’t think there’s any chance of a breakaway but those stories will get out there at some point and they can be destructive, especially when they are not anything other than a negotiation tactic,” said Brown.
Speaking on the threat of Ferrari leaving the sport if negotiations don’t go their way, Brown said he hopes that, above all, the sport isn’t hurt.
“No one wants that, but they [F1] have got to do what’s right for the sport and I think that is what they are going to do,” stated Brown. “Any time you are in a negotiation you need to be prepared to walk away.
“They are trying to do the right thing by everyone, but with the rebalancing of the sport on and off track, those that have had the unfair advantage are going to see it as they are losing something and they are not going to want to lose something so I sympathise with that.
“But the sport’s losing because of it and therefore they ultimately lose because we are all in this boat and if the boat sinks, it doesn’t matter if you are in first class or economy, the boat’s sinking.
“So they are going to have to find a balance of what they think is an acceptable compromise and they are all tough negotiators. Liberty is going to make a decision for what they think is best for the sport, be fair and balance.
“We all recognise that Ferrari has been the largest contributor to the sport and that has to be recognised but it shouldn’t be recognised in a way that hurts the sport.“