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The longest resignation letter in history?

NEWS STORY
13/09/2018

Consider this. For two successive seasons, running on a budget below the proposed $150m cap, Force India finished fourth in the Constructors' Championship. Consider also that earlier this week, Sergio Perez admitted that - despite apparently being on McLaren's 'want list' he had never given serious consideration to a return to the Woking team. This, a driver yet to stand on the top step of the podium, referring to a team widely considered one of the sport's giants.

Next season, the Woking outfit will field a talented rookie alongside a driver who has yet to seriously convince, a driver effectively ultimately rejected by both Red Bull and Renault.

While, Carlos Sainz may well bring much-needed sponsorship to McLaren, the cars are likely to look pretty much the same as they do this season, with results to match.

However, rather than looking within, rather than taking stock of what is happening at McLaren, a team looking set to be leapfrogged by Racing Point Force India in the standings after just four races, Zak Brown has chosen to call on F1's owner, Liberty Media to address the sport's issues.

Like Williams, he is relying on the budget cap and prize money redistribution to make things good, even though, as we have already pointed out, Force India operated below the proposed cap, was fourth in the championship two years running... and still went down.

"I think we have all seen it coming," he tells Motorsport.com, "and I don't envy what Liberty inherited because this started a while ago.

"Bernie had control of it and was keeping it together," he continues, "but it was a bit of a ticking time bomb, and now some things have exploded.

"I've said this to them, and it is not nice, but sometimes you need things to actually break to be able to fix them. The mortgage crisis, and the financial crisis, are good examples. Banking today is a lot better because of the financial crisis. And anyone in the financial industry knew it was going to eventually break. Unfortunately some of these things that have broken were unfortunately necessary in order to be able to hit the reset button.

"I have never thought that F1 is too big to fail," he admits. "But I think the industry as a whole has an arrogance that it will just take care of itself, it always has. I can't tell you how many times I have heard 'it will always fix itself'. Lehman Brothers went under and that was the start of fixing things.

"Whether it is a racing team, or a driver who should be in a seat and is going to end up being on the street, those are going to be things that we need to take notice of," he warns.

"They need to get it done this year and we have been talking about it long enough," he said of Liberty's plans for the budget cap. "They have got all the right ideas, they have had all the input from the teams, they know where the resistance is, they just need to do it. They own the sport.

"While there are things they cannot do in 2019 and 2020 because of the governance, it is a clean sheet of paper in 2021, and they just need to do what they say they are going to do, and be hard about it. And if people don't like it they can leave the sport.

"I do believe Liberty wants to do what is best for the sport, but those teams that have the ability to spend above the budget cap are going to see it as a disadvantage to them. But they should have enough confidence in their racing team, that they shouldn't have to be dependent upon money to buy their success."

In other words, if - as many suspect - things don't improve for McLaren, it's Liberty's fault... 'nothing to do with us, guv!'.

A $150m budget cap clearly isn't a magic bullet for F1, neither is finishing fourth in the standings, twice!

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Lapps, 24/09/2018 20:33

"For the future of McLaren to be understood it needs to be realised that ZAK is actually an acronym. It stands for:
“Zero Applicable Knowledge”

I would love to know what Ron’s comments are. "

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2. Posted by ffracer, 22/09/2018 1:06

"I would like to see what Zak Brown can do. How is his image of what McLaren should aspire to be any different from Bruce McLaren's vision? In the spirit of Bruce's team of the 60's, it wasn't just about F1 then. They were legendary in that they were into everything and were great at it: F1, Indycar, Can-Am, sportscars... The fateful M6B GT was one of the most beautiful cars ever built."

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3. Posted by JoeF1, 21/09/2018 5:22

"I guess theres not enough micro rules in the formula these days so they need to come up with a way to bring those micro rules to the budgets too? What???

Our sport is touted as the pinnacle of motor racing. Is anyone getting lost? Is this an engineering or 'budget formula' class of racing? Pinnacle of rules seems to be more and more appropriate. Maybe the name should be changed to 'Formula $'

Clean sheet the rule book or at minimum open the rules up to loose interpretation, there are just too many rules and boxes to tick now. Loose rules, no budget caps. Simple.

Let the engineers and drivers talent shine through. Millions are spent chasing 10ths or even 100ths of a second. All this results in a more and more homogenized grid even if they are spread by 5 seconds. Can anyone really name 5 unique innovations across the 10 teams in 2018 quickly? Ooh, Ferrari had some cool mirrors early in the season, erm, struggling for more (ok, sure there are more but I can't think of them without some head scratching, they're just to subtle, micro if you will, lots of slats and fins).

So lets please just have less micro rules in the formula, fair prize money distribution, no caps and lets get back to testing. Thats it, not much more needed really. Then its just a case of natural progression, the more innovative and resourceful people will race to the front, others will cry, maybe Mr. Brown's team would benefit, maybe not, they have in the past. For me clever and importantly open interpretation and implementation of the formula is one of the main reasons I've followed this sport so closely for over 25 years. However I have to say its become harder to see this from the sofa most weekends these days."

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4. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 13/09/2018 19:25

"I have no doubt about Zak Brown's intentions to do the best by McLaren. He and the team there are trying their best to get the issues sorted out.

However, all the teams competing in both World Championships know what they are in for regarding what it takes to win and what resources are needed. I'll wreck the plot of Brewster's Millions right now, all Brewster had to do was buy a chunk of an F1 team. Movie done in 10 minutes.
I digress.

It is completely bonkers regarding the amount of money spent trying to get two cars to win out of 20, or indeed get some points.

That being said, it is what it is and all the players know this before the light goes on for FP1 in Australia.
If the current McLaren bosses do not like the heat then get out of the kitchen, sell the team and the name. Give someone else a chance to bring the team back.

In other words, rather than F1 getting to a broken point before it gets fixed, the same is happening to McLaren.

By the way, from a McLaren fan's point of view, that was something dang hard to put down here but it is what it is.

What McLaren need to do is own the issues and make some tough decisions (without endless committee meetings) and get after it.
Also, learn from mistakes (such as getting in too early with Honda and then leaving Honda too early, bowing to the wishes of one driver, firing top talent who may have made a mistake this year but could sort things for next year.)
In other words: Leadership needs to lead. Properly.
F1 is definately not a perfect sport for the entrants who's self interest as much as anything else has got it into it's current state, however, it is what it is for now.

Contracts were signed with all and sundry surely knowing what they were getting into, especially as the teams have lawyers that specialise in this.

And it isn't hard to fix F1 either:
Drop all the historical / biased payments and just use points earned, let the FIA set the technical regs in consultation with the drivers so we get overtaking. Get rid of the artificial DRS.
Bring back tyre wars and in-season testing (so new drivers get a crack and team sponsors get value).

There is no incentive for Zak Brown, McLaren's board and shareholders, to see McLaren Racing continuing to flounder and the will want to get it sorted. F1 is not a perfect sport. All the teams know what they are in for well before they start complaining about the situation they find themselves in."

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5. Posted by Peter Rickitt, 13/09/2018 13:15

"I know Brown's plan - he is boring us into submission.
Seriously, whilst I was never a great fan of the boring Ron Dennis, he has every right to be apoplectic at Brown using the Lehmans' debacle to exemplify McLaren's demise: it must be atrociously hurtful to him and, above all, disgraceful to the memory of Bruce McLaren - who was the complete opposite of this terrible man.
When, McLaren shareholders, are you going to fulfil your duty to respect Bruce's name, heritage and style (and thereby cleansing the product for the lacking major sponsor) by ridding yourselves, F1 and, hopefully, all forms of motorsport of this charlatan ?"

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6. Posted by klmn, 13/09/2018 12:17

"Maybe Alonso should use his plan as 10 years ago in Singapore.


And then after te race say "I did not know nothing Mr Fawlty ...i am from Spain "

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7. Posted by imejl99, 13/09/2018 11:03

"There is a big team, backed by government and a whole country if necessary, traditionally red
There is a big team, backed by world`s top manufacturer, traditionally silver
There is a big team, backed by world`s top drink producer, traditionally colorful
There was a big team, innovative and competitive, poorly backed, mostly remembered as white and blue as Rothmans
There are and there were a lot of teams, bigger or smaller, backed by various sources with more or less funds
And there was McLaren, big team once, backed by private capital, successful and highly regarded by other teams and fans alike, until ZakBrownes of the world. Just google Ron Dennis on budget cap...

Small minds hardly make big things. "They own the sport" is telling as any. No, they own commercial rights, granted by FIA for 100 years in 2011. They are in it to make a profit. It beats me why ZakBrownes of the world are in it..."

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8. Posted by mzso, 13/09/2018 10:36

"In my opinion it was in poor judgment to single out this interview. He speaks truths about how much F1 is ailing.
I by no means deny that McLaren is probably more messed up than F1 in general."

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9. Posted by Peter Rickitt, 13/09/2018 9:50 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 13/09/2018 10:04)

"This comment was removed by an administrator as it was judged to have broken the site's posting rules and etiquette."

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