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February 5th, 2013
Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn has played down fears that the current financial difficulties Formula 1 is facing are a sign of impending crisis.
With HRT having closed down, more teams needing to take pay drivers, and Bernie Ecclestone having failed to find a 20th race to replace New Jersey, some have suggested that F1 is heading towards a period of trouble.
But speaking ahead of the first pre-season test at Jerez in Spain, Brawn believes that while F1 is not immune to cost concerns, the situation is no worse that it has experienced in recent history.
“I think we are affected by the cycles of the economy of the world,” he said. “We cannot ignore that.
“There is a lot of positive and proactive work to try and contain the costs within F1. There is constant debate/discussion within F1 to see better ways of doing that, but I think we are seeing a lot of positive signs.
“We have had Blackberry join us as partners and there are other people joining F1 because they can see the value of it. It is a constant battle.
“We can never rest and say that it is okay. We’ve always got to be working to contain costs and improve the quality of F1 and make it more appealing to our partners and sponsors. And it is a constant battle.
“In the 30 or more years that I have been involved in F1 it has never been very different to be honest. There are always one or two teams at the bottom who are perhaps struggling to meet their budgets. It is cyclic – but there is still a very strong core to F1.”
Caterham team boss Cyril Abiteboul, on the other hand, said he believed Formula 1′s economic situation was the worst the sport has witnessed.
“I think the economic situation is worse than it has ever been for everyone,” he said. “I think there is one single team that has been able to do an amazing job both on track and from a commercial perspective, and that is Red Bull.
“But they have had the luxury of a shareholder who was helping at the start with no great sponsors. I think everyone else is suffering.”
The financial difficulties back of the grid teams are facing was thrust into the spotlight recently when Marussia was forced to part ways with Timo Glock for money reasons.
And it is the absence of highly-rated experienced drivers like Glock and Heikki Kovalainen, who have been replaced by pay drivers, that has been noted by drivers including Lewis Hamilton.
Speaking about his former team-mate Kovalainen, Hamilton said: “The other day when I was coming here I was thinking it’s such a shame that Heikki’s not here.
“Definitely some other people who now have seats… I think whoever gave them the seats are crazy to think they are better than Heikki.”