The McLaren team principal, Zak Brown, has accused Ferrari of “living in denial” about the existential threat Formula One faces from the coronavirus crisis.

On Thursday, the Ferrari principal Mattia Binotto told the Guardian now was “not the time to react in a hurry” when it came to making decisions on the sport’s future.

F1 teams had agreed a $145m (£117m) cap per team, to come into effect next season. McLaren and others are seeking a further drop to $100m (£81m), a move opposed by Ferrari.

Speaking to reporters on a Zoom video call, Brown highlighted that comment as the argument over team spending intensified. “I’m almost at a loss what you say to that,” Brown said, adding that in his view, Ferrari’s arguments were contradictory.

“I think we all recognise that in modern times we are going through the biggest crisis the world has seen,” Brown said. “You have countries shut down, industries shut down. To not be in a hurry to address what’s going on, I think is a critical mistake.

“It’s living in denial and I think you would find pretty much every president or prime minister or CEO around the world was operating in a hurry to tackle this issue head-on. To take our time I think is a very poor leadership strategy.”

Brown also took aim at Binotto over a private settlement with the FIA following an investigation into the team’s engine, after Binotto said Ferrari had an ethical duty to protect jobs.

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz takes part in winter testing at Barcelona.
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz takes part in winter testing at Barcelona. Photograph: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images

Binotto told the Guardian that the current $145m cap “is already a new and demanding request compared to what was set out last June,” adding “it cannot be attained without further significant sacrifices, especially in terms of our human resources.”

“Along the line of ethics, I think it would be great if Mattia would share with us … what the details were behind the secret agreement that they came to,” said Brown, who accepted he wanted a more level playing field in Formula One.

“I think everyone in this sport has a right to be able to be competitive,” he said. “[I am] absolutely not hiding from the fact that part of this process is that people want to be in F1 to be able to compete, to have a chance to win.”

Brown has previously warned that the sport risks losing up to four of its 10 current teams if the crisis is not handled correctly. Formula One’s season has yet to start and is not likely to get going until July, with European races behind closed doors.

Greg Maffei, the president and CEO of the sport’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media, said advance payments on revenues had been made to some teams.