Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari steers his car during the first free practice session at the Yas Marina circuit. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: At a time when UK Prime Minister Theresa May is all set to appeal to the public to back the deal on Britain’s proposed withdrawal from the European Union, or Brexit, there are a lot of doubts in the Formula One circuit regarding the move.

Britain is the headquarters for Formula One and all its logistics and trade, with over 21 countries hosting the F1 races, happen from there. Hence, it is understandable as the F1 fraternity is sceptical about the move. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff was of the firm view that the free movement of EU should be pretty sorted.

“We are monitoring it very closely because as Mercedes, we have a large operation in the UK. Our motorsport division, call it 1,800 people, have a large percentage of EU citizens working for the team. Personally, I try to stay out of politics but this topic is very close to my heart because we forget why we ended up with the European Union,” said Wolff. “We don’t know what the outcome is for the next couple of days, whether there will be a deal or no deal or hard Brexit. A hard Brexit would be terrible for everybody involved, I think. So it’s a moving target at the moment, I would say,” he noted.

It was opportunity for us to have a discussion at a proper level with the public authorities from Great Britain to
understand what will be the treatment.

- Cyril Abiteboul, Renault team principal

Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul said he has similar concerns as they share a similar footprint and industrial perspective, as Renault and Nissan having important factories in the UK.

“It was opportunity for us to have a discussion at a proper level with the public authorities from Great Britain to understand what will be the treatment, in particular, for movement of goods and people. Obviously, we don’t want logistics or freight to be delayed in any shape or form, as well as people. We’ve gone very quickly in the recent years and it’s been done, in particular, thanks to the possibilities offered by the UK, bringing in youngsters. People are coming out from school, we don’t want that to change. That would be dramatic for Formula One — but I have full trust in the authorities of Great Britain to understand it is not in their interest to lose what is one of the pillars of the British industry, which is motorsport and Formula One,” Abiteboul added.

Racing doubts

Endorsing the Renault official’s views was Red Bull’s Christian Horner. “Formula One is something that the UK has excelled at in recent years; it’s no coincidence that four of the teams sitting here are based in the UK. Yeah, there’s obviously some turbulence around at the moment, but hopefully in the coming weeks and months, a solution will be found. There has to be one, ultimately, and it won’t affect how we go about our daily business,” said Horner.

Formula One is something that the UK has excelled at in recent years; it’s no coincidence that four of the teams sitting here are based in the UK.

- Christian Horner, Red Bull team principal

Racing Point’s Otmar Szafnauer also revealed they were watching the developments with keen interest. “We have many employees from the EU and are based in Britain, and have to cross borders quite a bit into the EU to go racing. So, we’re watching with keen interest but I have faith that the UK and EU will come to an equitable solution that’ll be good for all of us.”

I hope that the proper authority will be able to find a solution. I mean, looking into the future, what will be the solution for Formula One?

- Maurizio Arrivabene, Ferrari team principal

Ferarri’s Maurizio Arrivabene, with their base in Italy, felt the situation was not ideal for Formula One. “I hope that the proper authority will be able to find a solution. I mean, looking into the future, what will be the solution for Formula One? From the Ferrari perspective, if everything is going in the direction announced at the moment, I suspect that in the near future we will find a lot of people they’re knocking on the door of Maranello. It’s not really the best scenario for Forumula One.”