F1 teams discuss PM letter as Brexit fears grow

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F1 teams discuss PM letter as Brexit fears grow
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Jan 19, 2019, 12:30 PM

Three Formula 1 teams and UK motorsport’s governing body have discussed collectively writing to British prime minister Theresa May amid mounting concerns over a possible no-deal Brexit.

David Richards, the head of Britain's racing authority Motorsport UK, has been lobbying the British government over the country's impending exit from the European Union, and spoke with a trio of F1 teams last week on the issue.

A deal negotiated by May was rejected by MPs earlier this week by 230 votes, the largest defeat suffered by a government in the House of Commons since the First World War.

That has heightened concerns Britain could leave the EU on March 29 without a deal, which would mean, among other things, no agreed customs or trade arrangement with member states.

This could create major problems for F1 teams travelling to European countries, which host nine of the 10 races from mid-May to early September.

Last week, prior to the Commons vote, representatives from three F1 teams spoke with Motorsport UK chairman Richards. The teams’ identities are being kept private but include one of the biggest on the grid.

Their shared concern is that regardless of the political argument in favour of Britain leaving the EU or remaining part of it, a no-deal Brexit needs to be avoided. 

While no action has yet been taken, the teams believe that speaking collectively would be stronger than raising concerns individually.

They are worried about the impact a no-deal Brexit would have on their ability to move goods and people across borders in Europe.

There is also the matter of hiring staff from EU countries, particularly in manufacturing and shop-floor roles, as well as the cost of importing and exporting goods. 

Richards says these issues could threaten the viability of teams having major bases in the UK, which has traditionally been an F1 stronghold. 

Seven of F1’s current 10 teams are based in Britain, while 45 of the 61 constructors’ championships have been won by a team based in the UK – accounting for every title not won by Ferrari. 

Richards said that one outcome could be teams having “satellite operations” in Europe.

“Something we should be so proud of is the top F1 teams and world champions based here,” said Richards at last week’s Autosport International Show. 

“And we’re going to make their lives difficult. We’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

The impact of Brexit on motorsport would likely extend beyond F1, including to companies that need to import or export goods, or the British competitors and championships that travel to races on the continent.

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Series Formula 1
Author Scott Mitchell