McLaren's Zak Brown predicts "public fireworks" in 2018 F1 season

Zak Brown (center) is expecting off-track "fireworks" in 2018. Sutton Images

McLaren boss Zak Brown is expecting "public fireworks" during the 2018 Formula One season as off-track negotiations intensify over the sport's future regulations.

Discussions about the future vision of F1 are expected to heat up this year, with F1's key figures and team bosses keen to come to an agreement on 2021's engine and budget rules, as owners Liberty Media look to reduce costs and produce a more competitive playing field.

An initial blueprint on engine regulations for 2021 received mixed views from manufacturers, with Mercedes and Renault both expressing doubts over the plans to future-proof the sport. Ferrari opposed the proposal and swiftly issued a threat to quit F1 if the final set of rules fail to meet its own requirements.

Speaking on a guest blog on the James Allen on F1 website, Brown said McLaren aims to play a constructive role in the discussions but admitted the process will be far from straightforward.

"The honeymoon period is over," he said. "Some senior team executives have been openly critical of Liberty. I prefer we're constructive.

"They've only really had their feet under the desk for the last six to 12 months having inherited a sport previously operated pretty uniquely. They've had to put infrastructure in place, learn the environment and prioritise where to invest -- all at the same time.

"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. 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."

Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne reiterated the Scuderia's stance on the matter at the launch of Alfa Romeo Sauber in early December.

"The dialogue has started and will continue to evolve," he said. "We have time until 2020 to find a solution which benefits Ferrari. The threat of Ferrari leaving Formula One is serious.

"The agreement with Sauber expires in 2020-2021, right when Ferrari could leave. We have to find a solution which is good for the sport but we also have to be clear on the things we can't back down on."

At a media event in Maranello in the days leading up to Christmas, Marchionne warned that F1's hierarchy should take its quit threat seriously or risk "playing with fire", adding that Ferrari could create an alternative championship to rival F1 if it does not provide the Scuderia with favourable terms.