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Political squabbles damaging F1 - Whitmarsh

ESPN Staff
February 7, 2013 « Lotus confident Renault won't prioritise Red Bull in 2014 | Rossiter apologises for driving in to mechanic »
Martin Whitmarsh: "We're good a creating crises in our sport and we're good at not sorting them out" © Sutton Images
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McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has warned that Formula One needs to stop its infighting over issues such as the Concorde Agreement and the introduction of new engines in 2014 if it is to attract new sponsors and car manufacturers over the coming years.

The sport currently has no Concorde Agreement - the contract that binds the teams, commercial rights holder and FIA together - despite the start of the season being little over a month away. Whitmarsh believes it is important for the health of Formula One that a new deal is reached soon, but he does not believe everyone in the sport is as keen.

"We're good a creating crises in our sport and we're good at not sorting them out," he said. "We need to have somebody come out and say 'peace in our time', wave a bit of paper and say 'here's a new Concorde Agreement'. But I'm not sure everyone is motivated to do it."

Whitmarsh warned that smaller teams are facing tougher and tougher challenges to attract sponsors while the cost of being competitive remains high.

"I think it is tough," he added. "We are in the world of advertising and if you look at advertising worldwide the rate card is down. I think, fortunately, we've taken some measures but it's going to be tough for some of the teams to have a viable business model for a few years, there's no doubt about that."

Midfield and backmarker teams are meeting with Bernie Ecclestone this week to talk over a new Concorde Agreement but Whitmarsh said it was "all a bit divisive" as the bigger teams, including McLaren, attended a previous meeting. However, he said the teams could not blame Ecclestone but instead should be working together to look after their own interests.

"At the moment Bernie's doing a fantastic job for the owners [of Formula One, CVC Capital]," he said. "We can criticise Bernie, but he's doing his job better than we're doing. On behalf of his employers, that money is coming out of our sport. As you can imagine, that is deeply frustrating for some of us in the sport but that's exactly what Bernie should be trying to do.

"If the teams aren't cohesive enough to work together to claim a larger share of that then they've got to blame themselves. I've certainly tried quite hard in that area and clearly not been as successful as I'd like to have been. Bernie's pretty good at moving the pieces around the board, isn't he?"

Whitmarsh also thinks the sport does itself no favours by fighting over the 2014 engine regulations, which will see V6 turbos replace the current naturally-aspirated V8s. Ecclestone and Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo have both publicly criticised the switch since it was announced and Whitmarsh says that may have put off new manufacturers entering the sport.

"Every other weekend we seem to say 'shall we really go V6 or shall we stay with V8s? Do we really want turbo charging or shall we stick with normally aspirated?' If I was facing the board of Hyundai tomorrow or trying to get Toyota to come back to F1 they would say, 'well, what are the rules?' I'd say, 'well they're published like this...' and they'd say, 'I read the other day that you're not going to do this V6'.

"So I think we've created an unstable environment and we're very good at that because we like arguing publicly and debating these things in an unhelpful way. I think the manufacturers need to see it happen now, because even in the last few weeks people have said 'shall we really go V6?' But we're committed to it. Good, bad or indifferent, we've got to do it now. We've been saying if for long enough and we've been delaying it long enough that we've actually got to bloody well do it."