Horner not in favour of 'secret ballots' on rules


Christian Horner has admitted that he is not in favour of a proposal that votes on rule changes be made in secret in a bid to end teams voting strategically to aid partner outfits and engine suppliers.

In an article for the McLaren website, Zak Brown took aim at the number of alliances on the current F1 grid, the Woking outfit and Alpine being the only two teams without such an alliance.

While the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari supply power units and more for partners such as Aston Martin and Alfa Romeo, Brown fears that the partnerships go far deeper, with the smaller teams being used by the big guns for additional political clout.

"Currently, decisions about the future of the sport can be halted by a minority, rather than majority," wrote Brown, "and they are further skewed by some teams' voting power being in favour of their affiliated team partner.

"There have even been instances when an affiliated team, to satisfy its bigger partner, has voted in favour of a clear disadvantage to itself," he added. "This isn't sport. This isn't putting the fans first.

"It is a situation that must be addressed," he insists, "and so we call for secret ballot voting to be implemented in all F1 Commission meetings with immediate effect.

"In other sports the regulatory body has the power of governance because they always focus on what is in the best interests of the sport overall, which should be the key consideration in Formula 1.

"With a change in the voting procedures, it could lead to more agile decision-making that would ultimately benefit the interests of the fans and in doing so the sport at large, including the participants."

Speaking at today's official press conference however, Christian Horner, whose Red Bull team can always count on the support of 'sister' outfit, AlphaTauri, admitted that he is not in favour of the proposal.

"I heard about that, and I can only assume it's because of pressure applied from the supplier, which if that is the case, is a shame," said Horner, an obvious reference to McLaren's new engine partner, Mercedes.

"It would be a shame to need to go behind a secret ballot, but a team has a right to request that," he added. "If that's what it took to take independent votes, then we don't have a major issue with it."

"You have seen in the past that Toro Rosso has voted like Red Bull, probably without any exemptions, and Haas has gone the Ferrari way," said Toto Wolff. "In our case we have never tried to influence a team.

"Obviously things have been discussed when it was a common topic, like on the power unit," he admitted. "It's clear the teams vote with each other. None of the teams would vote against their own interests in terms of chassis regulations.

"No team should be really influenced by any affiliate or any supplier," he insisted. "So the idea of the secret ballot is good."

"The rise of team affiliations has become unhealthy for our sport," concluded Brown in his piece for McLaren. "It is not in the best interests of competition if two rivals, or even three, share assets and align strategically.

"One of the fundamental principles of Formula 1, as opposed to other one-make racing series, is an open competition between constructors.

"I do not wish to see the number of teams in F1 reduce, but team affiliations remain an issue because they do not promote a level playing field. This is where further changes need to be made to the governance of Formula 1.

"There have always been conflicts of interest in Formula 1 and it's unlikely to change anytime soon, so it's even more important that F1 and the FIA, who have no other agenda than the whole sport's success, call the shots in the best interests in F1 and not be blocked and slowed at every turn."

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Published: 30/04/2021
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