Williams: F1 can survive but operating model 'exposed' by coronavirus

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Williams is optimistic Formula 1 will survive the coronavirus crisis but does believe the operating model has been "exposed".

Almost half the 2020 season has currently lost due to Covid-19, leaving the sport facing an unprecedented financial impact as it depends on race fees, broadcasting rights to make up a vast majority of revenue.

To overcome it, a range of cost-cutting measures have been discussed, but Williams deputy team boss Claire Williams admits nothing would be as beneficial than getting back on track. 

"It is an incredibly difficult environment that Formula 1 finds itself in right now," she told Sky Sports.

"That is why we have spent so much time locked away in so many team principals' meetings to do everything we need, to make sure all of us come out of this, at the end of this year, unscathed.

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"A big part of that is when we can go racing again, particularly for a team like ours - one of the few true independents left. We don't have the backing the majority of our competitors have.

"For us, going racing is actually critical this year, but as I have said, only when it's safe to do so."

Currently, the hope is to at least have four races by holding two double-headers in Austria and Britain in June, but Williams says nothing is certain at this point.

"It's not easy.  It is incredibly worrying at the moment regarding what is going to happen because the situation is so fluid. We just don't know whether we will have 15 races, eight races or zero races. Clearly we hope it is more, rather than less," she said.

"I certainly don't envy Chase Carey [F1 chairman] and F1's job at the moment trying to work out how, from an original 22-race schedule, they can put in as many races as they can when we are in the situation we are in.

"We do not know when lockdowns are going to be lifted and even if they are lifted in one country, are they going to be lifted in another country? How do you move what is in effect an entire sport that comprises an awful lot of people? That is a lot of people crossing borders."

Williams also believes the coronavirus has proven to F1 the problems in the financial model that have been highlighted for so long.

But pointed to the changes that are now being made, such as the budget cap from 2021, as a reason for hope.

"I think this is an opportunity and as I said, I think Formula 1 and the model within which we operate has been exposed as probably an unsustainable model when something like this happens," she claimed.

"This is unprecedented and this is crisis mode and it is incredibly difficult to navigate your way through.

"Survival is critical, and we have to put the work in now, so that should a similar situation arise, god forbid, we are all much better protected, rather than having to scramble like we are having to do now.

"We are working incredibly hard not just within Williams but within the sport as a whole. Formula 1 really does come together in these circumstances," the Briton added.

"The bigger teams understand the work they need to do to ensure the smaller teams' survival. The smaller teams understand and sympathise with what we are asking of the bigger teams.

"What is disappointing is that [we don't have] the new regulations that were coming in for 2021 which we'd got to a really good place with and which were going to really set a great future for all of our teams.

"I think if we had those regulations implemented two years ago, we might not all be as concerned as we are now. We are a little exposed at the moment but I trust that we will get through this. I am eternally optimistic."