McLaren Racing’s chief executive has backed Liberty Media’s plans for Formula 1, amid speculation that other big names – such as Ferrari – may leave the competition.
Zak Brown told Sky’s Ian King Live programme that the sport could “definitely survive” without Ferrari.
He said: “I think Ferrari needs Formula 1 and Formula 1 is certainly healthier with Ferrari.
“But it is a big sport and I think at the end of the day, a couple of teams get a disproportionate amount of the money, they have a significantly large budget so I think they’re negotiating hard to try and preserve that financial benefit that they get.
“But at the end of the day, I don’t think that’s healthy for the sport…I’d be surprised if we saw Ferrari leave the sport.”
US-based Liberty Media, which is backed by media tycoon John Malone, took over Formula 1 late in 2016 and has been announcing new plans for the championship.
As part of this, Formula 1 managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn told Sky Sports: “We think there is a need to readdress our references on what is correct to spend in Formula 1 and what isn’t.
“Out of that, I think we will have closer competition, teams with better business models and we’ll have a better sport.”
Image: Sergio Marchionne, chief executive and chairman of Ferrari
The possibility of their advantage being reduced reportedly upset Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne.
He told a conference call late in 2017: “Liberty has got a couple of good intentions with this, one of which is to reduce the cost of execution for the teams, which is good.
“There’s a couple of things we don’t necessarily agree with.
“I think it needs to be absolutely clear that unless we find a set of circumstances, the results of which are beneficial to the maintenance of the brand, and the marketplace, and to the strengthening of the unique position for Ferrari, Ferrari will not play.”
But Mr Brown said he is “a fan” of the direction Liberty Media was taking the sport, including making it easier for new teams to enter.
He said: “Budgets now have got out of control and so they’re going to bring some balance back.
“I think that will balance out the competition.
“We’ll see the star drivers will show their talent and then they’re focusing on the fan.
“If we can continue to grow the fan base geographically, age, diversity, then ultimately that will create a very healthy ecosystem for the sport so we’re very much a fan of the direction Liberty’s taking the sport.”
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McLaren Racing recently sold a 10% stake to Canadian Michael Latifi for £204m and Mr Brown said he expected the “highly-intelligent” businessman to “contribute a lot at the board level”.
“A company like ours that’s always investing in technology and research and development and can always use more investment to grow quicker, make strategic investments, maybe some acquisitions.”