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Brown hits out at sport's governance and the continued power of A teams

NEWS STORY
18/01/2022

A no-nonsense, hard-hitting Zak Brown calls for greater clarity in the roles of F1 and the FIA, as he also questions the continuing power of the so-called A teams.

Looking ahead to the new season with great anticipation, as the events of Abu Dhabi, and their potential fall-out, continue to dominate the headlines, Zak Brown has raised a number of concerns.

Having previously voiced his opposition to calls from some teams for the budget cap to be raised by an "inordinate amount of money" to cover potential costs incurred by Sprint events, the American has doubled-down on his call for rivals to exercise more realistic fiscal management.

"The current governance structure of the sport enables a situation where some teams, to protect their own competitive advantage, are effectively holding the sport hostage from what's best for the fans and therefore the sport at large," says the American as he looks ahead to the new season. "These teams seem unable to accept that a budget cap is in the best interests of the sport and cannot kick their habit of spending their way to the front.

"In addition, the threat of A and B teams has not gone away," he warns, "and it is vital that the governance of the sport is strengthened to prevent this.

"The regulations, as they stand today, are heavily biased towards B teams/customer teams which is not in line with F1's principle of a group of genuine constructors competing with one another on even terms. It is diminishing what being an F1 'team' means and the fabric of the sport," he adds.

"F1 needs to be ten true constructors, where each team - apart from sharing the PU and potentially the gearbox internals - must design and produce all parts which are performance relevant.

"Right now, there is too much diversity in the business models between teams. Trying to apply the same set of complex regulations to each, and then policing them effectively, is needlessly complicated and compromised as a result. This cost-capped environment should allow teams to become more recognisable entities in their own right within a realistic budget, without the concern of significant performance differences based on how much each team can spend.

"In a nutshell, the current situation allows B teams to be over competitive compared to constructors, and A teams to be over competitive by having the benefit of a B team.

"Without a correction, the way things stand mean that any team with championship aspirations needs to have a B team in place and that simply is not Formula 1," he insists.

"On top of this, the voting pressure placed by the A teams on their B teams is not consistent with the promotion of an equitable sport based on individual team merit. As I have said before - and these teams won't admit to it - there are times when some smaller teams vote against their own interests to satisfy the agenda of their A team."

Looking at the sport's governance, he continues: "The election of Mohammed Ben Sulayem last December as the new president of the FIA provides the opportunity for collective reform of the way Formula 1 operates.

"It is obvious to focus on the events of Abu Dhabi at the end of last season, which are the subject of an FIA investigation, but this was a symptom rather than cause in my view.

"There have been systemic issues around alignment and clarity on who makes the rules - the FIA or the teams - that have manifested themselves in the past couple of years, at times in a high-profile way.

"The signs of organisational difficulties could be seen at the 2020 Australian Grand Prix and at last year's Belgian Grand Prix, both hallmarked by a seeming lack of preparation for the events unfolding and temporary inertia on the solutions.

"Greater clarity on the roles of the FIA and F1 and the need for increased leadership of the sport will undoubtedly be on the agenda for Mohammed Ben Sulayem and Stefano Domenicali and their respective teams.

"Previous administrations pursued a mainly autocratic style of governance, so to point the sport in the right direction it was necessary to take a more consultative approach with teams and stakeholders. But now the sport has been successfully reset, moving forward there is a need to shift back to stronger, more directive leadership and governance at the top of the sport.

"It is clear that some of the rules and their governance are not acceptable as things stand. No one is happy with the inconsistency in the policing of the regulations, but which has been habitually exploited by teams for competitive advantage.

"I have said before that the teams have too much power and it needs to be reduced. We have a significant role in the drafting of the regulations and governance of Formula 1 and that influence is not always driven by what is best overall for the sport.

"Yes, teams should be consulted," he admits, "and their informed perspectives considered, particularly on long-term strategic issues. But at times it has seemed the sport is governed by certain teams.

"Let us not forget that we, the teams, have contributed to the inconsistencies in the policing of the regulations as much as anyone. It is the teams who applied the pressure to avoid finishing races under a Safety Car at all costs. It is the teams who voted for many of the regulations they have complained about. It is the teams who have been using the broadcasting of radio messages to the race director to try to influence penalties and race outcomes, to the point where an over-excited team principal plays to the gallery and pressurises race officials.

"This has not been edifying for F1," he admits. "At times it's felt like a pantomime audition rather than the pinnacle of a global sport.

"I am confident that we will see increased leadership from the FIA and F1, and that collectively as custodians of the sport we will focus on evolving the sport and not shirk responsibility when it comes to tough decision-making."

Would one be wrong in assuming that Zak is already looking beyond Mercedes and an impending announcement from Audi or Porsche?

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by kenji, 19/01/2022 1:01

"@ Defiant....exactement, mon ami."

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2. Posted by Defiant, 18/01/2022 5:52

"Finally a principal with his eyes, ears and mind open. Well said Zak. Couldn't agree more."

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3. Posted by kenji, 18/01/2022 0:07

"What a refreshing read that was. When reading Zak's statement last night I felt as though he had been reading my mind when it came to the inordinate power assumed and used by a certain few 'manus'. I have maintained that usurping certain authority and attempted control [ B teams being one example amongst many ] by what ever means is bad for the sport/business and it flies in the face of true competitiveness between teams. Zak certainly agrees that point in spades. He also highlights 'an overexcited team principal' and the fact that 'at times its felt like a pantomime audition rather than the pinnacle of a global sport'. Wolff and the camera'.? Zak Brown has produced a cracker here and his summary should be read and inwardly digested by the many dissenters. IMO of course....."

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4. Posted by Rock Doc, 17/01/2022 21:52

"Can't believe I'm saying this but I'm in full agreement with Zak."

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5. Posted by Simon in Adelaide, 17/01/2022 19:30

"Well said Zak.

I have no problems with powertrain components, brakes, bearings, fuel and lubricants being customer items but the chassis needs to be designed and built by the constructor (team). The supply of powertrain components cannot be limited by the manufacturer to a single customer, if they cannot supply at least 2 customers then they are not a manufacturer.

With regard to ‘heat of the moment’ influence of certain teams in decision making, it is solved by having one-way communication from race control - simple."

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