McLaren executive director Zak Brown predicts there will be "fireworks" between teams and Formula 1 owners Liberty Media as a crucial year of negotiations to decide the future of the sport awaits.
This month marks the first anniversary since the American company completed their $7 billion takeover from former commercial rights holder CVC. They wasted no time either making their mark ousting long-time CEO Bernie Ecclestone and installing Chase Carey, but since then their tenure has been mixed.
Embracing social media was the first significant step and saw F1 become the fastest growing sport on such platforms in 2017, while TV audiences and race day crowds also saw an increase, however, entering the murky world of paddock politics has already led to frustration from some, who question the new leadership's direction.
"Some senior team executives have been openly critical of Liberty. I prefer we’re constructive," Brown told veteran F1 reporter James Allen.
"They’ve had to put an infrastructure in place, learn the environment and prioritise where to invest – all at the same time. F1 is a fast-moving, impatient and unforgiving sport but the teams can’t rely solely on Liberty and F1 to solve all the problems.
"Yes, there are several challenges but the key is to turn these into opportunities," the McLaren chief ended.
Currently, everything is building to the new Concorde Agreement, the document that binds every F1 stakeholder, which is up for renewal in 2020. Liberty has made it clear they want to introduce major changes in many key areas both sporting and business and getting the teams on board is proving a tough task.
"There will be some big negotiations going on through 2018 with the teams on contract renewal and I predict that there will be public fireworks; we are already starting to see that," Brown, who has previously stated teams should have less say over the rules, said.
"I do not think it’s going to be quiet. Will Ferrari really leave if they don’t like the new rules? I have my opinion but we’ll see how this plays out," he concluded.
One major change Liberty has introduced is a new logo for the first time in 25 years which is part, commercial director Sean Bratches has claimed, of a wider rebranding of F1 coming in 2018.
Having had a sneak peek at what is planned, Brown believes there is plenty for fans to be excited about.
"For this year there are products in place, like a new F1 App, OTT platforms (Over The Top/streaming) and they have brought in David Hill, one of the great TV sports innovators, to oversee the graphics package and the way the race is televised," he revealed.
"You’ll see significant changes there on the broadcast, on the graphics and the storytelling."
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