Liberty Media should consider dipping into its own pockets to support smaller Formula 1 teams as Bernie Ecclestone would have done, says former BAR team principal and Motorsport UK chairman David Richards.
Citing the economic strain placed on the sport due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Richards suggested Liberty must ensure those teams that are not backed by large corporations — several of which are based in the United Kingdom — be given financial assistance from F1’s owners until they can go racing again.
“A lot will depend on the way Formula 1 behaves throughout this,” Richards told the Press Association, as reported by thisismoney.co.uk.
“F1 cannot afford to lose teams at the back of the grid because that would be a disaster for them.
“Bernie made sure that when there were tough times the smaller teams were looked after and I hope that Liberty see the common sense in that, too.
“The big manufacturers such as Mercedes and Renault will be okay, but if you look at Williams and Racing Point, for example, it is not going to be easy for them. There is a distinct danger of operations going out of business.
“There will be motorsport companies who do not have the resources to get through this period. It is going to be a real challenge.”
Having taken-over the sport from Ecclestone and CVC Capital Partners at the start of 2017, the coronavirus crisis represents the first real test of Liberty’s governance, something they have already faced significant criticism for in the wake of the last-minute cancellation of the 2020 Australian Grand Prix.
“Liberty were very late in their decision about Australia,” he continued. “It is very difficult and I am not for one minute suggesting it was an easy decision, but given the amount of people who travelled to Australia from various countries across Europe, it was an inappropriate thing to do. A week beforehand they could have come to the decision to cancel.
“As you approach a new season there is big impetus and expectation. It is easy to say this all in hindsight, but nobody is denying that it could have been done better.
“Lewis Hamilton talked for most when he spoke out on the matter. He has really matured and come of age and represents a very positive side of F1 and the consciousness of the sport. He is not afraid to speak his mind and I applaud him for that.”