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Brown urges F1 to push ahead with 2021 vision

NEWS STORY
03/01/2019

What a busy man Zak Brown is. Other than his role as CEO at McLaren Racing, which in 2019 is to run a programme for Fernando Alonso's Indy 500 challenge, the American has his own United Autosports team, not to mention his seat on the board at Cosworth Engineering and his role as non-executive chairman on the board of Motorsport Network, which owns Motorsport.com.

Indeed, talking to Motorsport.com, Brown has revealed his desire to see the sport's owner push ahead with the grand vision it has for the sport post-2021 and to ignore the protests from the naysayers, which include Mercedes and Ferrari and Red Bull.

When Liberty Media first revealed its grand plan at last year's Bahrain Grand Prix, such was the delight among the smaller teams that Claire Williams admitted to being tempted to "crack open the Champagne".

Other than changes to the technical and sporting regulations aimed at levelling the playing field, hopefully ensuring that podiums and race wins are open to (almost) all, and the title fight is no longer a two-team affair, Liberty is looking at a controversial change to the prize money in a move which would effectively mean 'robbing' the bigger teams in order to ensure their smaller rivals get a bigger share.

Of course, not so long ago, Williams and McLaren were at the other end of the pitlane and would have been fighting just as hard as Mercedes and Ferrari to hold on to their share, but times are hard and now the British outfits find themselves among the have nots, even though both currently receive their own individual bonuses.

Aware that realistically, and despite his latest 5-year plan, McLaren's only hope of challenging for podiums and wins is such a major overhaul, not only of the rules but the prize money, Brown is calling on Liberty to push ahead with its plans.

"We know change in F1 is difficult, and we also know F1 today is a broken model, both as a business and as an on-track product, that is going to need to be changed," says the American. "Those that are winning today will obviously feel the compromise about what is happening, and those who are not winning today are going to like the plan.

"It was inevitable that Chase would bring forward a plan that some people like and some people don't like," he continues. "But he needs to move forward with what he thinks is in the best interest of the sport.

"At the end of the day, what is in the best interests of the sport in the long term is in the best interests of everyone," he insists, "if people can get past the short-term compromises that they need to make. I think today's F1, if it is stays as is, I think everyone eventually loses.

"They have been consistent since Bahrain in their vision and direction of the sport," he says of Liberty Media, "the budget cap, and the revenue distribution. We've not got a lot into governance, their desire strategically of where they want to take the sport, so I think various teams are looking at different levels.

"I think the majority of the teams are supportive of what was presented in Bahrain and all that has really happened since was drilling deeper... what is in the budget cap and what isn't in the budget cap. I know that not all the teams are aligned but I think a majority are. At McLaren we are very supportive of what was presented in Bahrain and I think the sooner we can get that on the road to implementation the better.

"I believe Chase and Ross are going to move forward on that basis and I think that is their plan. For anyone else saying that they are not aligned with it, their view is 'we presented it in Bahrain, we've been working together, we've been consistent on where we are going so this is what we are doing'. I think some people haven't accepted that yet."

If nothing else, at a time F1's share price is at its lowest for over a year, it would be interesting to hear Chase Carey's reaction to Brown's claim that "F1 today is a broken model, both as a business and as an on-track product". Not exactly the message the sport needs to be signalling to shareholders… prospective fans, prospective team sponsors, circuit owners, potential races or those existing fans expected to dig deeper into their finances in order to watch it.

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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 05/01/2019 14:49

"In F1, as with any "Sport" running under the neo-liberal "Anglo-Capitalist" model, excellence comes at a price. Faffing about with cost-caps, grooved tyres, reverse-grids etc. may make it more unpredictable, but it won't make it BETTER. The simple truth is that (all other things being equal) the team with the biggest wallet will most likely win, most of the time. Hence the current infamous duopoly. That's not to say its unfixable, simply that its unfixable in its current form, in the current context.

Correspondents to this site have elucidated numerous ways to make things better, and I won't re-state the blindingly bleedin' obvious all over again. Suffice that blatantly artificial attempts to 'level the playing-field' will merely result in more of the same.

As a UK resident, F1 will no-longer feature in my weekend sofa-surfing, but fear not I shall continue to watch & enjoy MotoGP weekends. Although one pilot has dominated, the racing is fast, furious and usually "sporting"- reminiscent of F1 55-odd years ago when I was first hooked.
This is no accident: Dorner (equivalent to Mr Chase & Co.) manages to run a series which is unequivocally the pinnacle of two-wheeled track-racing, yet regulated in such a way as to keep the baby united with its bath-water.
Tyres matter, but don't dominate, various makers have varying BHP, or driveability, chassis & suspension development continues apace.... MotoGP is a complex & technical Formula, but Dorner largely operates on the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle beloved of Engineers the world over."

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2. Posted by imejl99, 04/01/2019 15:56

"@USA1

You mean go for origin of the "Grand Prix" ?
To steer F1 to passion over business ?
Sadly, I doubt shareholders would agree....
;)"

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3. Posted by USA1, 04/01/2019 14:38

"We need to go back to the days F1 was still F1, now it’s just over regulated, go back to where we have more engine manufacturers like Cosworth coming back in the sport, price money should be paid by performance not by who you are, I would like to see a budget cap but leave everything else open for the teams as long as they stay within the budget cap, may the best win and collect the price money for that race!!"

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4. Posted by Simon in Adelaide, 04/01/2019 10:47

"As history has a habit of repeating itself, the last time there was an economic downturn the car manufacturers were not slow in departing F1 and it was Bernie's ability to wheel and deal that kept F1 afloat.

The current economic uncertainties, US v China, UK v EU, Australians being bone idle and relying on exporting coal and iron ore for income, are producing a climate where the Mercedes, Renault, Honda boards of directors will be looking at their share price and their costs; exiting F1 will be seen as preferable to headcount reduction.

All of the players in F1, the teams, Liberty, the circuits and the FIA need to take two paces back and have a long hard look at the bigger picture. The costs are unsustainable and without addressing the problem F1 as a business will wither and die."

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5. Posted by imejl99, 04/01/2019 9:18

"Zak Brown epitomizes broken model. Seems McLaren shareholders will realize it too late. "

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6. Posted by george, 04/01/2019 6:49

"Lapps … is there anyone who still understand F1 ? Not Liberty Media. F1 is a mess. It needed to change because Mr Ecclestone was not going to be around forever but we can all agree it has not changed for the better. Anyway, I don't know why I still bother with these comments and I am sure you agree with that. So, won't. Wish you the best for 2020 racing. Sorry, for the procession of cars around a circuit or street course.
Racing we see in MotorGP, Indy. "

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7. Posted by george, 04/01/2019 6:43

"Funny for someone who made his career out of F1 and is thus , to an important degree, responsible for the current situation , which of course is terrible, both on and off track. At least, there, i agree with him.
But pissing off Ferrari , Mercedes and Red Bull, is not a good idea. They will walk. They will hang on, but walk, when its not worth it anymore and I think they are getting close. Red Bull would stop, Maybe Ferrari sets up its own, simpler F1. It might work or not, but one thing is never to be forgotten. F1 , without Ferrari is a non starter. "

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8. Posted by Max Noble, 04/01/2019 1:31

"@NS Biker - good points... if no new engine partners join, and Honda and Renault bail... so your only dance partners left are Ferrari and Mercedes whom you have just mightily irritated... gee... you’re going to have a real Super Bowl of a 2022...!!
"

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9. Posted by NS Biker, 03/01/2019 23:54

"Fast forward to 2021 and consider some risk elements.
Renault and Nissan divorce, not too far fetched an idea .... and Renault opts out of F1 citing costs, lack of benefits and a limited support at the executive level.
Honda wins a couple of races with Red Bull prior to 2021, but having proven their point, cuts the strings and packs up their Power Unit supply division.
If either of these occur, F1 is in for some serious challenges. If both transpire ... ouch.
Yes, everyone is hoping for the best, but is there any planning for the worst.? Doesn't look that way.
"

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10. Posted by Lapps, 03/01/2019 19:21

"Perhaps comment would be better coming from someone who knows and understands F1!"

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