F1 teams must 'bide time' on prize money reform

Williams believes that the sport's independent teams must 'bide their time' until 2020 before they can expect a fairer distribution of Formula 1's commercial revenue.

Despite its recent on-track success having helped Williams deliver a marginal profit in 2015, the team is well aware that F1 remains a financial challenge, and big-spending manufacturers are able to throw more money at being successful.

The situation for independent teams like Williams is further not helped by a skewed prize money structure that ensures that bigger outfits like Ferrari and Mercedes gain more income simply because of their historical contribution.

It is a system that has prompted complaints to the EU from smaller teams Force India and Sauber, but Williams thinks there is not much scope for the situation to change in the short term.

Speaking to the media about the prize money situation during a briefing to discuss its latest financial results, deputy team principal Claire Williams said: "Our philosophy in life is if you cannot do something about something, then don't worry about it. We cannot do anything about it.

"We have tried. Lots of teams have tried to have those conversations. But, as Bernie [Ecclestone] always points out, we signed up to the current Concorde Agreement under those terms, and we cannot do anything about it.

"We have a lot of other things that we want to worry about at Williams, so why worry about trying to fix something we cannot.

"We have to bide our time. The new Concorde Agreement obviously we will start negotiating new terms around that well ahead of 2020 and I hope that a revision and a redistribution is something that is tabled as part of those discussions."

Working together

When asked if there was some optimism that teams would work together to ensure a more level playing field, she responded: "I don't know whether it is possible, because this is F1.

"But I very much hope so, because I am a firm believer that sports should have equitable platform to be successful, particularly financially..."

Although the size of Ferrari's heritage payment has caused unease among some teams, Williams thinks it would be wrong not to accept the contribution it makes to F1's following.

"I wouldn't have an issue if Ferrari got a heritage payment, but not as great as it is - if that is what it takes [to get a deal done], if that is the compromise," she said. "I cannot imagine Ferrari would agree to everybody getting the same chunk of change."

Cost reduction

Although accepting that revenues are unlikely to change in the short term, Williams is optimistic that costs are set to come down, with engine makers having agreed price cuts for 2018.

"I think the results today show that F1 is in a relatively healthy position financially – but that is not to say we do not have work to do.

"We are always striving as a team to try to encourage cost control in F1, and we need to maintain that. With the power unit regulations there is the cost element of that – and in 2018 we will see a significant reduction in the costs of the power units, and hopefully we will get some rebate in 2017.

"But it is always a continual fight. And I think as Williams, there are teams with much bigger budgets than us but there always have been in the 40 years that we have been racing.

"We believe we have a healthy budget. We have to work hard to bring more money in, but we do believe that we can do what we need to get done in the sport."

Pay TV switch

Williams thinks it is also too early to judge what financial impact there will be from F1's move behind the pay wall in 2019 when it is broadcast exclusively live in the UK only on Sky.

Group CEO Mike O'Driscoll said: "It is a deal that will happen in a few years' times. We don't have any experience of it yet.

"We control the controllable and we focus on those elements that are in our control. We will do the very best we can, whether it is free to air or pay TV."

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Series Formula 1
Teams Williams
Article type Breaking news