The new Formula One racing season is under way, but the action on the track is being overshadowed by concerns over the implications of Brexit, with so many teams calling Britain home.
Seven of the 10 F1 teams are based in Britain and there are nine European races this season, making the nation’s impending departure from the European Union an unwanted headache even for such a globalised sport.
Several teams have warned that Britain’s departure from the EU, especially if it comes without a withdrawal agreement, will create logistical nightmares for an industry that relies on international staff and specialised goods moving around.
But opinions on the likely impact of Brexit differ sharply.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has warning a no-deal divorce could cause the “mother of all messes” while F1 motorsport boss Ross Brawn is more sanguine.
Mercedes, based in Northamptonshire, in central England, have won the past five drivers’ and constructors’ championships, with British driver Lewis Hamilton winning four of those.
“Brexit is a major concern for all of us that live in the UK and operate out of the UK,” Wolff said at during pre-season testing in Spain last month, before the opening race in Melbourne.
“Formula One teams travel to races at least 21 times a year — we are moving in and out of the UK, our people move in and out of the UK,” he added, referring to potential customs delays that could be caused by Brexit.
“The way we get parts and services is just in time at the last minute . . . taxes would massively damage the Formula One industry in the UK.”
Visas and right to work concerns were also high on Wolff’s worry list, thanks to the 26 nationalities who work for the team.