Zak Brown

F1 should stop trying to make “perfect rules” – Brown

2019 F1 season

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Formula 1 needs to “get on with” agreeing its rules package for 2021 and stop waiting for the teams to agree on every detail, says McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown.

Two months ago the sign-off deadline for the new rules was postponed until the end of October. However Brown sees little chance of any teams changing their positions on the remaining points of difference between now and then.

“We’re talking about the same issue time and time again,” he said. “Very little progress is made because all the teams have stated their position, and that’s not going to change.

“So it seems like we revisit the same issues that the various teams have and so I think at this point Formula 1 and the FIA just need to make the decision and get on with it because I don’t think they’re going to hear anything new from the teams at the next Strategy Group meeting or the following Strategy Group meeting that they haven’t heard for the last 12 months.

“The idea, and you guys [the media] all know this as well as anyone, that the 10 teams are somehow going to converge for the first time in the history of Formula 1 in the next three months is just not going to happen. I think it’s just time to get the show on the road.”

In June the teams agreed to accept the new financial regulations, including a budget cap, while elements of the sporting and technical regulations remain under debate. Brown says McLaren was prepared to go further.

“Ultimately we went with the flow the best of the sport,” he explained. “I would have been happy to lock down the regulations in June because I’m of the opinion [that] we’ll make some progress between June and October but I don’t think we’ll make substantial change.”

“You’re never going to end up with perfect rules,” he added. “You’re going to have to modify along the way anyway. And so I don’t think this extra five months that we have is going to make that much different.

“I think we’ll be arm-wrestling on October 30th just like we were on June 20th or whatever the date is.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 25 comments on “F1 should stop trying to make “perfect rules” – Brown”

    1. 2018 me would never have said this, but 2019 me says: I agree with Zak.

      1. georgeboole (@)
        21st August 2019, 11:45

        @phylyp you start missing Bernie?
        Anyway, it’s good that teams have a saying in the new rules but everybody knows they will never agree if it is not their interest.

        1. No, I am not missing Mr.E at all. That said, the teams already have too much power over the rules and F1 with FIA need to start making some decisions…no doubt about that.

        2. @georgeboole – missing him? No :)

          But yes, it sometimes seems like he was the ringmaster that the F1 circus needed.

          In fairness, I think Liberty have been doing things right, but they get mired in doing things too right. Let me explain – Liberty often toss an idea out there to gauge feedback (e.g. no free practice), and then make a decision based on the reaction it generates. I think that is good, and should continue. However, involving multiple stakeholders in the minutiae of the decision making process is something they have to cut back on.

          e.g. Say “We will increase the number of standard parts, and this will also encompass equipment used in a pit stop”. Once they decide to proceed down the avenue, the exact list of items is something they should just do and present as a done deal. If there is outcry over some specific item (e.g. the front wing adjustment tool might be team-specific as it depends on the shape of the front wing), they could relook it but if it’s just general mumbling they can press on.

          1. georgeboole (@)
            21st August 2019, 16:51

            @phylyp totally agree. You can’t run a business without someone making the hard decisions.

      2. Why? Zak has not only, always made fair honest points but also never stopped being a racer, top teams cowardly maim f1 in order to keep their livelyhoods intact and their jobs easy.

    2. The FIA should be making the rules and presenting them to the teams, end of! If they don’t like it they know where the door is. The FIA need to save the teams from themselves. F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, whatever the rules, that will always be the case… new manufacturers and teams etc will always be tempted if the rules are done correctly. It just feels like they are so scared of losing the likes of Ferrari that they pander all the time and in the end the teams win out in their own interests.

      1. Foca won the war, the teams make the rules. End of!

        The teams put money into the sport, not the fia or fom. The teams have the most skin in the game and therefore control the rules wether you like it or believe it.

        Also they contract and pay the drivers so they control that aspect as well.

        Nobody goes to a race to see Todt, Foa officials, Masi, Brawn, Carey or his stupid mustache.

        1. @megatron lol, so thats why liverpool and man u control the var, makes total sense.

    3. When I worked for a Japanese company in the UK we would have sales meetings where the different distribution channels argued about our respective product allocations, advertising budgets etc. Our Japanese managers would sit chain smoking while we went round in circles for hours, sometimes days, waiting for the managers to make a decision based upon our arguments.
      They however were waiting for us to come to a consensus, something was never going to happen. I had to point out to my Japanese boss that he was in England and we would never reach agreement, he confided that in Japan a consensus was always needed so that no one person could be blamed later. It was notable that any Japanese willing to actually make decisions was very soon a director. I expect it has all changed now.

      It strikes me that we have a similar situation, in a more or less direct opposite of Bernie style management, waiting for the teams to agree, while the teams need the decisions made promptly so that they can get on with their planning. Someone, like the FIA, whose job it actually is, needs to get off their collective backside and start governing!

      1. That is not the FIA’s job, you are mistaken.

    4. This is a Bernie Ecclestone classic!
      Can’t agree about the rules? Ok, I am going to wet the track using sprinklers to spice up the show…
      – Noooo! We agree, we agree!
      Used car salesman Masterclass…

      1. Maybe. But i suspect Bernie used the strong arm method behind closed doors, mafia masterclass

    5. On the one hand I’m glad they’re trying for ‘perfection’ but on the other hand I agree with Brown, and Horner has said the same several times for months now.

    6. I suspect there is an obvious way forward on most issues. FIA just needs to make an informed decision and then say this is the way it’s going to be.

      You are never going to please everyone so please most people (or teams).

    7. As long as FOM introduces a budget cap which is below the fair prize distribution amount for each team (call them franchises), then they don’t need to worry about teams folding or quitting.
      Even if a team ends up bankrupt (spend too much on their party tent) or want to stop participating (e.g. Ferrari if they are not happy losing their veto, or Mercedes judging that it can only get worse from here) then they will not just leave, but they will sell their franchise (which has a value as the budget cap costs are lower than the prize money). And if a team doesn’t want to sell the franchise, then FOM should revoke it and sell it to the highest bidder (even I would buy it).

      When the franchises (participation of 10-13 teams) are guaranteed then FOM/FIA should simply dictate the rules which deliver the fairest competition and the biggest sporting entertainment.

      It’s not rocket science; it’s being done in many other sports (to some extent) quite successfully.

      1. @coldfly, agree about this part:

        As long as FOM introduces a budget cap which is below the fair prize distribution amount for each team

        However, the proposed budget cap is double or triple the amount most teams receive from FOM. Other than the amount given to Ferrari.

        F1 is still a profit-negative venture. However, F1’s state-of-the-art financial innovation has real world application with certain banks in Europe and the long-term bond market. ;-)

        1. Just package it as a synthetic CDO and go short, @jimmi-cynic.

          1. Thanks… @coldfly, I try to never fly higher than I’d like to fall.

    8. They’re competitors. Having competitors decide on the technical regulations is the worst idea ever. Of course they’re going to try to get every advantage they can. It’s impossible to decide on rules like this.

    9. Yeah.. Get on with it!

    10. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that we had Mad Max running things.
      I never liked the guy, but I give him credit for deciding what he wanted, what would work best for F1 (in his mind) and just getting it done.
      Seems that the collective intelligence out there has forgotten that period of F1 history. Not that I want to bring it back, but Zak is right on this one. Get on with it.

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