Whitmarsh fears F1 could 'crash and burn'

Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:59pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

PORTSMOUTH, England (Reuters) - Former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says he is saddened by the current state of Formula One and fears it may "crash and burn" before eventually recovering.

"I love Formula One and I love McLaren. I was there 25 years. I am saddened by it," Whitmarsh told Reuters at a media day for British America's Cup yachting challenger Ben Ainslie Racing, of which he was appointed chief executive in March.

The Briton, who has said very little about the sport since his departure, said he still watched the races on television as a fan.

"I am staying away as much as I can, and try not to comment on it, but I'm saddened by what's happening in the sport," added the 57-year-old, who was ousted by McLaren Group head Ron Dennis in January last year.

"I think it (the sport) will crash and burn before it gets turned around, in my view. It will do eventually but I'm sad to see it go through the process it's going through."

McLaren, the second most successful team in the history of Formula One, have not won a race since 2012 and have scored only four points in eight grands prix this season -- the first of a new partnership with Honda.

At the same time, Formula One has suffered a wave of negativity with leading figures -- including commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone and the bosses of former champions Red Bull -- talking it down.

More recent headlines this week have focused on the possible sale of the sport to RSE Ventures, who own the Miami Dolphins NFL team, and Qatar.   Continued...

McLaren Group Limited CEO Martin Whitmarsh attends a joint news conference with Honda Motor Co's President and Chief Executive Officer Takanobu Ito (not in picture) in Tokyo May 16, 2013.  REUTERS/Issei Kato