May 6, 2021

F1 must tackle rise of ‘unhealthy team affiliations’ – Brown | 2021 F1 season

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has called on Formula 1 to reinforce competition between rival outfits and prevent larger teams exerting political control over those they supply components to.

Brown claimed smaller teams have voted for changes to the sport which put them at a disadvantage because they were pressured by their suppliers into doing so.

Formula 1 has four engine manufacturers, two of which – Ferrari and McLaren’s supplier Mercedes – provide components to customer teams. Red Bull runs two teams, both of which receive engines from Honda, while only Alpine use Renault engines.

Writing in an open letter on McLaren’s website, Brown urged F1 to do more to protect its independent teams from pressure exerted by manufacturers.

“The rise of team affiliations has become unhealthy for our sport,” said Brown. “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 [of] F1 and not be blocked and slowed at every turn.”

Brown said the sport must introduce secret balloting to the F1 Commission, the rule-making body in which each of the 10 teams is represented, to ensure customer outfits are not forced to vote a certain way by their suppliers.

“Currently, decisions about the future of the sport can be halted by a minority, rather than majority, 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.

“This isn’t sport. This isn’t putting the fans first. It is a situation that must be addressed 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.”

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