Zak Brown, Monza, 2018

Brown: It’s “critical” Liberty’s 2021 F1 overhaul goes ahead

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In the round-up: McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says no more than two or three teams will be able to compete for the Formula 1 championsip if Liberty Media’s planned overhaul of the sport in 2021 does not go ahead.

What they say

Brown said McLaren’s five-year plan to return to the sharp end in F1 depends on Liberty Media making its planned changes in 2021:

We have a journey to get back to winning races. And once you’re winning races you’re competing for the championship.

I think it’s critical that Liberty make the changes to the sport that we discussed earlier because right now, the way the sport is going, it’s difficult for more than two or three teams to compete for the championship. So I think the things that are out of our control but hopefully we can influence, they need to change for multiple teams to be able to win races and compete for the championship.

But we have laid out a journey, a message, a road of recovery that sees us getting back to the front of the grid in that time.

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Comment of the day

Has F1 learned that softer tyres doesn’t always equal better racing?

These comments from Pirelli motorsport director Mario Isola give a positive sign for the future quality of the racing. He is telling it like it is and the right people in the right places will listen, I believe. Brawn, especially, although I am sure it is nothing shockingly new to him.

There is a lot of negativity from many of us readers and writers surrounding the efforts by the various parties to make the quality of racing better; especially the lack of results thus far. I am hopeful. It will take time but the situation we are in now seems so much more professional that the knee-jerk reactions of yesteryear.
Shimks (@Shimks)

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  • 42 comments on “Brown: It’s “critical” Liberty’s 2021 F1 overhaul goes ahead”

    1. The only thing that’s critical for Brown, is that their car gets ahead.

      Doesn’t look like it will, though.
      Their whole marketing strategy is basically fan-service with “good ole times” pictures and “bringing back” superficial, irrelevant stuff. Just pandering to the nostalgia, while not showing any idea at all above having some big plans where to take the company next.

      It’s all living in the past. Like an old, retired man, now sitting contently, contemplating his long, illustrious career.

      1. That should be “not showing any idea at all ABOUT”. not “above”. :)

        1. You’re too kind, what’s critical for Brown is they make money.

          1. Remember that Brown said last year that in his opinion the only ones who will win the Championships until the rules change will be Mercedes. Here he is saying it is ‘difficult’ to beat the top two or three teams, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he is thinking it is impossible. I think we know by now how crucial a works team is to success, and Mac is not one currently. There are only 4 if you count RBR who doesn’t even actually make their engines. And while that won’t change in 2021, at least a shake up of the rules, especially in such a big way, might scramble the order somewhat. Claire Williams said a year or two ago that they will not survive unless F1 goes through with better money distribution, as one example of an overhaul that needs to happen.

            I think it is easy to say F1 has always had only two or three top teams legitimately competing for the trophies in any given season. However, there still seemed possibilities for smaller teams to grow and get themselves up there…at least a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. What light is there right now for Williams and the other lesser teams? The trend is you have to buy the back half of a Ferrari or Mercedes to have even a glimmer of hope vs the works teams. And push the envelope of legality in doing so at that. And even then, would such a customer ever beat a works team?

            No wonder Brawn has talked about getting back to those less complex and expensive days of plug and play when you could legitimately take someone’s engine (not Pu) and slap it in a good chassis, and bring something to the table.

            When people say things like ‘ah, F1 has always been this way…get over it…’ I do wonder if the bigger issue is that the globe is different enough now that an overhaul is indeed what is needed, but as in, a whole new chapter that heads F1 back to a fairer more balanced series, and a simpler one at that. Close non-processional racing with, let’s say six teams in it with a shout, may have not always happened in the past, but I think it is crucial now if F1 is to grow again in today’s climate. Doing nothing is certainly no answer, but then Liberty is far from doing nothing and is setting things up for when they can really put their twist in the plot for 2021, post-Concorde, post-BE. Hugely exciting times.

      2. In fairness, I think he is sceptical of McLaren’s ability to get ahead without some sort of change to how F1 is conducted.

      1. Fame and glory, I kiss you on both cheeks!

        @phylyp

        1. It is surprising though how much time they took to realise it isn’t it?

    2. A question to those with better memory than me – when McLaren decided to move away from Honda PUs, did they also seek out a supply of engines from Mercedes and Ferrari and was that turned down? Or did they just settle on Renault as they knew they could (and would) supply engines?

      1. If I remember right, Merc said they were willing to supply engines to McLaren again for 2018, but the latter missed some kind of deadline…

        1. It wouldn’t make sense for either Mercedes or Ferrari to provide engines to Mclaren, it just wouldn’t work from a branding perspective. Mclaren and competitor to Ferrari in the automotive sector, so thats a no brainer. Mercedes on the other hand are making forays into the super car sector as well, so their reasons would have been similar to Ferrari’s. The landscape is quite different to the Mclaren-Mercedes era.

          Mclaren’s only choice was Renault. I think they knew it from the moment they decided to call it quits Honda, what transpired with all the ifs and buts was just a long drawn out drama. Mclaren have to live and die by their own sword.

          The way I see it, the only way they’d ever be a works team again is if they build their own engine. They’re a car manufacturer, sure a niche type, but nonetheless, they build their own cars and engines (ok Ricardo does, but you get the point?). If they keep racing in F1 going forward as a customer team, it would be a bit like Ferrari using a Mercedes engine?

          Mclaren already have hybrid tech, and are the go to company for high end electronics and batteries for other motorsport categories. Going forward, they’ve got to have a plan of building their own.

      2. They seeked out both. Maurizio said no to McLaren fairly quickly. Discussions with Toto proceeded but it was around McLaren being a 4th team. And then if I remember correctly, suddenly a report came out in the media that Mercedes didn’t want to be seen as pushing Honda out of the sport. I guess the only people who wanted Honda in the sport at that time was Liberty. They must have stepped in to stop Mercedes from supplying a 4th team at this point.

        1. Thank you @pratyushp276 and Sumedh.
          @jimmi-cynic – LOL :)

        2. In fact it is the Sporting regs that say how many teams a major motor manufacturer may supply.

          From the 2015 Sporting regs, which are still the same up to and including this year:
          13.3 A competitor may change the make of engine at any time during the Championship. All points
          scored with an engine of different make to that which was first entered in the Championship
          may count (and will be aggregated) for the assessment of a commercial benefit, however such
          points will not count towards (nor be aggregated for) the FIA Formula One Constructors
          Championship. A major car manufacturer may not directly or indirectly supply engines for
          more than three teams of two cars each without the consent of the FIA. For the purposes of
          this Article 13.3, a major car manufacturer is a company whose shares are quoted on a
          recognised stock exchange or the subsidiary of such a company.

          This of course makes Williams a major motor manufacturer since their shares are quoted on the German XE market. Williams floated a portion of their shares when Patrick Head retired in order to give him some reward for his long and important service.

      3. @phylyp @Sumedh @jaymenon10 To my knowledge it went like this: Mercedes (as has been pointed out by @pratyushp276 already) would’ve been willing to take Mclaren back had the latter made its decision to leave Honda earlier, i.e., deadline reasoning for eventually opting against taking them back. AFAIA, they didn’t even approach Ferrari for a PU supply, only Mercedes and Renault (which they ultimately resorted to switching in the end.)

        1. @jerejj – thank you.

      4. I remember @phylyp! Do not worry my friend

        So, they had Honda, sushi isn’t really their thing, they have a sweet tooth you know? They already knew that in Germany only sausages, they had enough of that, while nutritive not what they were looking for.

        Then they thought, what about Italy? Don’t they have something there? Tiramisu or something? Thing with Italy is that tiramisu has alcohol in it, they are dizzy enough in their normal stage imagine with some licour.

        Alternative? Belgium! That’s right, Belgium, the country of french fries and most important, chocolate! They got a driver from there (though at times it felt the milk came from a british cow, you know the mad ones). But that wasn’t enough. No they needed more, but there was nothing else left, so they went to the country right next to it. France, the promising land, the guys that never give up, except WWI and WWII and the Franco-Prussian war and the Battle of Puebla and Algeria and Indochina and the Euro 2016 (well you get the point). And so the relationship McLaren – Renault came about.

    3. @phylyp: Can’t imagine they asked Ferrari for engines. Would be like asking the Pope for a case of condoms for a night out in Monaco.

      Might have asked Merc, but the answer was likely no – not enough production capacity.

      The switch to Renault was a simple swap with TR. Not politically of course, but still much easier than fitting a prancing horse into a despicable garagista.

      1. @jimmi-cynic Mercedes would’ve been willing to take Mclaren back had the latter been quicker in making its decision to leave Honda, i.e., it was a deadline thing that eventually led to them resorting to Renault.

        1. No, Mercedes eventually flat out refused to supply McLaren. The negotiations were a dog and pony show.
          As Zak said back then “they (Merc and Ferrari) want to keep us where we are”.
          It wouldn’t have been a good thing for McLaren anyways as Merc and Red are always a step or two ahead of its customers.

    4. it’s difficult for more than two or three teams to compete for the championship

      I’m not sure this is something we should worry about, and that maybe what we should worry about is ensuring the rewards for competing are fair and equitable.
      Currently there are 101 points handed out at the end of each race, so there were 2121 points handed out last year. Of that, about 78% of the points, 1645 points, were awarded to three teams, and about 22%, or 476 points, were handed out to the rest of the teams. So obviously there seems to be an imbalance in the outcome of the races. If we look at the distribution of prize money, the three teams that got 78% of the points were collectively paid 386M pounds in through the 2018 season for their efforts in 2017. That’s an average of 128.9M pounds per team. Now, compare that to the 22% of points scored by the other 7 teams, collectively they were paid 328.5M pounds, which is an average of 46.93M pounds per team. So top scoring teams were paid approximately 2.8 more than the other teams. Since money buys performance then it isn’t surprising to see the three best paid teams took 78% of the points available last year.
      On the other hand, if Liberty Media want to have a better distribution of points across all the teams then maybe one option is to have a better method of distributing the TV rights payout.
      As an example, if all the bonus payments were abolished and that amount added to the Column 1 payments, then the average payout to the top three teams last year would be 86.4M pounds per team, and while the average payout to the remaining 7 teams would have averaged out at 65M pounds per team, so the difference in average payout between the top three and the others would have been a factor of 1.3. While the top scoring teams would have received a higher average amount, they did happen to win most races. However, the average amount they earned isn’t significantly more than the rest of the teams, so they have less ability to buy more performance than the rest of the teams.

      1. My thought on seeing the headline was, “What else is new? That’s probably what it will be in 2021 whatever the ruleset, just not necessarily the same 2-3 teams”.

    5. no more than two or three teams will be able to compete for the Formula 1 championship

      Brown is probably right there.
      The bit he fails to see is that McLaren should be one of those teams.
      McLaren is in the sport with sufficient budget and drive/passion that in the long run they have the better cards. Even a team like Red Bull (and maybe Mercedes) is in it only as long as it makes marketing sense.

      The bad news for Brown is that at equal budgets it seems that Racing Point, Haas, and maybe Sauber have a better chance at winning than the current McLaren (based on how effectively they spend their money).

      1. Exactly @coldfly what Brown should be doing first is comparing their performance against teams with a similar or lower budget.

        It’s not necessarily who has the biggest budget (even though they have one of the bigger ones) but how effectively you use that budget. For all it’s failings Force India was the beacon that a heap of teams should’ve aspired to.

    6. F1 has always had maximum 3 team fighting for the championship. More often 2 or 1 team.

      But they’re not pushing the cars to their limits so we don’t see very much DNFs. I’d rather see the teams pushing the material each, including the PU

      1. Each race

      2. @anunaki that’s pretty much my thought as well.

        In past days there were far more DNF’s both because of mechanical failure and the fact that at a lot of tracks run offs had gravel etc that prevented or severely hindered rejoining.

        These days, nothing is pushed to its absolute limit because of the 3 PU and gearbox rules so mechanical failures are the exception and there are very few tracks that punish a driver for over cooking it and running off track.

        If they were able to bring in a change to either, we’d see a different mix of cars at the front far more often (or at least more often) than is realistically possible now.

    7. Helmets look crap these days. There so many fiddly little details that look incredible close up but from a distance can’t even be seen and just blur into each other. From a distance Max’s helmet will just look white.

      With the halo covering so much of the head now I think if you can’t see a detail from 30 feet away you’re wasting your time.

      1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
        6th February 2019, 10:07

        Now that everyone is pretty much used to the Halo, I think it’s time they mandated helmet liveries on the Halo just like car numbers. Some of the concept art out there doesn’t look too terrible and it serves an actual purpose.

        1. I quite like that idea.

      2. @mattj I have the opposite view. Simple helmets designs from the old days look almost comical close up (and even from a distance TBH)

        1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
          6th February 2019, 14:29

          Totally disagree @balue

          Today’s generic, over-busy, corporate helmets are one of my pet hates about modern F1.
          Just like a good flag, simplicity is one of the keys of a good helmet design.
          There are 5 generally accepted principles of good flag design, all of which are transferable into good helmet design in my opinion, at least as a general guide. Rules are made to be broken after all…

          1. Keep it Simple.
          The design should be simple enough that a child can draw it from memory. It should be recognisable at a distance, and at speed.

          2. Use Meaningful Symbolism.
          Like Coulthard’s Saltire, Schumacher’s 7 stars, or Vettel’s tricolour-on-white; meaningful symbolism lends itself much better to a helmet than the meaningless lightning strikes or graffiti swishes that dominate many modern lids.

          3. Use two or three colours.
          Most good helmets adhere to this principle, but as with flags, it is the notable exceptions which prove the rule. Jacques Villeneuve’s design for instance, like the flag of South Africa, uses 5 distinct colours to flaunt this rule to great effect.

          4. No Lettering
          The horizontal white-advertising band introduced into practically all helmets in the 90s was the beginning of the end for unique helmet designs, and I was glad to see Alonso buck this trend with his 2018 cap.
          Examples of breaking this rule successfully are James Hunt’s helmet, or the flag of California, but they are few and far between.

          5. Be Distinct, or be Related.
          Ideally your helmet should be distinctive enough that it is easily identifiable in a line-up, but at a bare minimum, it MUST be distinct from your teammate.
          I couldn’t tell Ocon from Perez last year, nor Rosberg from Hamilton in the year they both wore yellow.
          Good related helmets tend to come from related people inheriting a design, like the Hills or the Piquets, although Lewis’ early Senna tributes are another successful example.

      3. I rather liked Max helmet colourwise main colour is white (i think to reflect Honda) the red bull logo and the orange lion on top. Some subtal lines which i really like!

    8. I wouldn’t necessarily regard it absolutely ‘critical,’ though, that the overhaul for 2021 goes ahead precisely as planned. The aero, yes, needs to be fixed properly, but the proposed budget cap, for example. I don’t see that being as critical in comparison.

      The RBR-drivers’ new helmet designs look cool.

      Unfortunately, Chandhok is entirely right. I wish the Buddh International Circuit would come back, but it’s rather unlikely to happen anytime soon if ever.

      I share the entirely same views as the COTD. Isola’s recent comments indeed do give a positive sign for the future concerning the quality of racing.

    9. Wonder if Mercedes will use camo painting only for testing.
      Would be nice to see one of top teams pull off something like this – some crazy, out of this world colour scheme, camo pattern for all season or some images on livery (Honda RA107 was brilliant).

      1. Even something as silly as Brawn GP “Terminator Salvation” promo image on rear wing in 2009 at SPA was quite interesting :)

        1. Ok, not SPA but Spanish GP.

    10. Hey Horner, I know someone who isn’t afraid of VER and seems to be overlooked which may be a good thing.
      His name is LeClerc and he is as fast and more stable emotionally than your guy.
      Alonso sings his praises – and that carries some weight.

      1. We will see when the pressure is on him, start of last season i found him a bit off. Why that was i don’t know but some later races in the second part of the season i noticed some errors due pressure.

      2. I don’t think Lewis is afraid of Max either, and the level of fear in general of him seems to be receding. It’s hard to be afraid of someone you’re accustomed to.

    11. Horner is amusing.its farmore easy being a rookie or newish driver fighting for just the corner. Its a different world when you are fighting for a championship. They are wary i would rather say but not fearful.

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