Consider this. For two successive seasons, running on a budget below the proposed $150m cap, Force India finished fourth in the Constructors’ Championship. Consider also that earlier this week, Sergio Perez admitted that – despite apparently being on McLaren’s ‘want list’ he had never given serious consideration to a return to the Woking team. This, a driver yet to stand on the top step of the podium, referring to a team widely considered one of the sport’s giants.
Next season, the Woking outfit will field a talented rookie alongside a driver who has yet to seriously convince, a driver effectively ultimately rejected by both Red Bull and Renault.
While, Carlos Sainz may well bring much-needed sponsorship to McLaren, the cars are likely to look pretty much the same as they do this season, with results to match.
However, rather than looking within, rather than taking stock of what is happening at McLaren, a team looking set to be leapfrogged by Racing Point Force India in the standings after just four races, Zak Brown has chosen to call on F1’s owner, Liberty Media to address the sport’s issues.
Like Williams, he is relying on the budget cap and prize money redistribution to make things good, even though, as we have already pointed out, Force Indiaoperated below the proposed cap, was fourth in the championship two years running… and still went down.
“I think we have all seen it coming,” he tells Motorsport.com, “and I don’t envy what Liberty inherited because this started a while ago.
“Bernie had control of it and was keeping it together,” he continues, “but it was a bit of a ticking time bomb, and now some things have exploded.
“I’ve said this to them, and it is not nice, but sometimes you need things to actually break to be able to fix them. The mortgage crisis, and the financial crisis, are good examples. Banking today is a lot better because of the financial crisis. And anyone in the financial industry knew it was going to eventually break. Unfortunately some of these things that have broken were unfortunately necessary in order to be able to hit the reset button.
“I have never thought that F1 is too big to fail,” he admits. “But I think the industry as a whole has an arrogance that it will just take care of itself, it always has. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard ‘it will always fix itself’. Lehman Brothers went under and that was the start of fixing things.
“Whether it is a racing team, or a driver who should be in a seat and is going to end up being on the street, those are going to be things that we need to take notice of,” he warns.
“They need to get it done this year and we have been talking about it long enough,” he said of Liberty’s plans for the budget cap. “They have got all the right ideas, they have had all the input from the teams, they know where the resistance is, they just need to do it. They own the sport.
“While there are things they cannot do in 2019 and 2020 because of the governance, it is a clean sheet of paper in 2021, and they just need to do what they say they are going to do, and be hard about it. And if people don’t like it they can leave the sport.
“I do believe Liberty wants to do what is best for the sport, but those teams that have the ability to spend above the budget cap are going to see it as a disadvantage to them. But they should have enough confidence in their racing team, that they shouldn’t have to be dependent upon money to buy their success.”
In other words, if – as many suspect – things don’t improve for McLaren, it’s Liberty’s fault… ‘nothing to do with us, guv!’.
A $150m budget cap clearly isn’t a magic bullet for F1, neither is finishing fourth in the standings, twice!