F1 teams monitoring ‘not very pleasant’ Brexit situation
Formula 1 teams are monitoring the developing situation of Britain’s exit from the European Union amid fears the sport could be negatively impacted by the move.
Prime Minister Theresa May is currently struggling to gather support from members of Parliament to support her Brexit deal, with the United Kingdom due to leave the EU on March 29, 2019.
A vote on the proposed deal, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, was delayed by Mrs May, leading to further uncertainty over what type of deal, providing Brexit does not collapse altogether, will be agreed.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said his team – which has two UK-based operations in Brackley and Brixworth – is monitoring what he described as “not a very pleasant development” closely.
“We are monitoring it very closely because as Mercedes we have a large operation in the UK,” Wolff said.
“Our motorsport division, call it 1800 people, with a large percentage of EU citizens working for the team.
“It is a factor for us, as I mentioned the EU citizens working for us, we are importing lots of goods from the EU, we have taken steps to make sure they are not stuck on the border.”
Ferrari chief Maurizio Arrivabene suggested Brexit could lead to staff members from its British-based F1 rivals switching teams, though he added he hopes a solution can be reached to avoid such a scenario.
“I’m looking at the situation from the Ferrari perspective, if everything is going in the direction that is announced at the moment, I suspect that in the near future we will find a lot of people that they’re knocking on the door of Maranello,” he explained.
“But it’s not really the best scenario. I think we share the same concerns.”
Seven of F1’s 10 teams have bases in the UK, including Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Williams, Renault, Haas and the newly rebranded Racing Point squad.
Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul is worried by Brexit due to the potential logistical challenges teams could face, with his outfit splitting its operations between France and Enstone in the UK.
“Obviously we don’t want logistics or freight to be delayed in any shape or form, as well as people,” Abiteboul said.
“We’ve grown very quickly in the recent years and it’s been done in particular thanks to the possibilities offered by the UK, bringing in youngsters, people are coming out from school, we don’t want that to change.”
Christian Horner, team principal of the Milton Keynes-based Red Bull squad, compared the Brexit situation to the current negotiations in F1 between FOM and teams over the future landscape of the sport.
“Theresa May is obviously doing the best she can with not a great hand, a little bit like Chase Carey really, and it’s a complex situation.
“I think the bottom line is that people will continue to do business with the UK if we’re competitive and remain good at what we do.
“Formula 1 is something that the UK has excelled at in recent years and it’s no coincidence that four of the teams sitting here are based all in the UK.”
But Horner remains confident Brexit will have little impact on how teams go about their daily business.
“There’s obviously some turbulence around at the moment but hopefully, in the coming weeks and months, they’ll be a solution found,” he added.
“There has to be one, ultimately, and it won’t affect how we go about our daily business.”
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