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Williams: F1 needs financial controls to safeguard future

Claire Williams (GBR) Williams Deputy Team Principal
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Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams has called on Formula 1's new owners to take control of the sport's spiralling costs in order to protect F1's long-term future.

Liberty Media has already prioritised lower costs as part of its technical blueprint of the future. But Williams called for the introduction of financial restraints such as budget caps and spending controls.

She said it was time for everyone involved "to look at the future of this sport and protect it for future generations.

"I think the fans of our sport want to see a much more competitive grid. And that can only be the outcome of a more financially balanced sport.

“That’s everybody’s responsibility around the table," she continued. "In order to do that we believe that financial restraints have to come into play for 2021 and beyond."

Such restraints won't go down well with many of the bigger teams, who have become accustomed to spending their way to success.

“I’m pleased I’m not in charge," she admitted. "But I’m sure that everybody has what’s best for the sport at heart and not individual gain and benefit."

It means teams joining together with Liberty and the FIA - the sport's governing body - to come to an agreement.

"As people are working together then does it matter if it’s the FIA or Liberty’s responsibility?" Williams argued. "I think it’s everybody’s responsibility to come to the table and to talk about the future of the sport.

"It’s difficult. This sport is very political as everybody knows. We are all here to protect our teams, but we all must remember as well that we are here to protect our sport as well.”

The cost of operating a team in Formula 1 is a particular concern to an independent team such as Williams, which lacks the spending power of a global manufacturer such as Ferrari, Mercedes or Renault. Williams spends around £120 million per year, about a third of that of the bigger teams.

"I’ve always said that spending £300 million a year just to get two race cars to the grid is a scary amount of money," said Williams. "And it’s not sustainable for our future. It’s certainly not sustainable for independent teams like ours.

Much of the budget goes on purchasing engine technology. But without a competitive power unit, teams might as well not even show up on race day.

"These engines are important," Williams acknowledged. "They are hybrid technology which is important for the sport to be using.

“If we were able to come up with a situation whereby we were still able to talk to the environmental issues but to be financially conscious, I think that would be a positive outcome. And one that the sport needs."

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