F1 could lose ‘an awful lot of teams’ – Williams

Claire Williams fears Formula 1 could lose “an awful lot of teams” if it is unable to race this year as plans evolve to get the season started.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the opening 10 races of the 2020 season to be called off, which is set to hit teams hard through a loss in revenue.

F1 remains hopeful of getting a 15-18 race calendar completed in 2020, beginning in Austria at the start of July. 

The sport’s owner, Liberty Media, has already begun to make advance payments to teams in a bit to aid their financial outlook, with further losses in sponsorship revenue also anticipated. 

Claire Williams warned last month it was “absolutely critical” for the Williams team to get racing this year due to its dependence on the prize money from its constructors’ championship position. 

But the Williams deputy team chief has now said she fears the grid could lose a number of teams if F1 is unable to get racing in 2020.

“It is scary that we could lose not just one or two teams, but an awful lot of teams if we don’t get back racing,” Williams said in an interview on Sky Sports F1.

“The financial model that we have in our sport means that we are all so reliant upon the money that we receive from the results that we get in the constructors’ championship.

“You take that away, and coupled with the fact that sponsorship isn’t at the level that it is in Formula 1 at the moment and in sports in general, that makes trying to find a budget to go racing really incredibly difficult.”

F1 is working on a “biosphere” plan to hold races behind closed doors in Europe over the summer to ensure there is no spread of COVID-19 and to maintain the safety of all attending. 

Williams stressed she would not put any of her team members at risk by returning to work too soon.

“You have to weigh up the need to go back racing in order to ensure sure your team’s survival against the very important reality of ensuring your people remain safe,” Williams said.

“For me, at the end of the day, my people are always going to win out.

“I certainly hope that doesn’t cost us our team, but the safety of our people, whether that be returning them to work at Grove or asking them to travel, is going to be absolutely paramount.

“We will certainly not be sending people back racing until it is appropriate to do so.

“I know that the work F1 are doing, they’ve been putting an awful lot of time an energy into this to see what they can do in order to take us back racing and to do that safely.

“They’re going to make sure they put in every possible health and safety regulation that they need to, and make sure that we’re all doing it in absolutely the right way before we actually go back to the race track.”

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