“I’ve never been fined a dollar”: McLaren’s Brown responds to Szafnauer criticism

2020 Spanish Grand Prix

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McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown defended his running of the team after his opposite number at Racing Point Otmar Szafnauer said he was ‘surprised how little he knows about F1’.

The dispute between the pair began following Brown’s remarks on the FIA stewards’ verdict against Racing Point last week. Brown said it proved Racing Point’s claim to have only used photographs to copy elements of Mercedes’ 2019 car design was “BS”.

Szafnauer responded by saying Brown is “not an engineer” who’s “got no idea what he’s talking about” and “knows more about historic racing than he does about Formula 1.”

Sitting alongside Szafnauer in today’s FIA press conference, Brown said: “I thought a lot of what Otmar said was accurate. I’m not an engineer. I don’t know the rule book first page to the last page.

“But as CEO you have a racing team and it’s their job to know the rule book and the regulations.”

Racing Point was fined €400,000 and give a 15-point deduction after being found to have broken the rules last week.

“In my time here leading McLaren I’ve never been fined a dollar, let alone four hundred thousand,” continued Brown. “I’ve never been docked points – I think Otmar thought it was seven and a half points until Sky television pointed out it was 15.

“As far as historic racing, I think people that know me know I enjoy historic racing and I’d invite Otmar to come join me because he’s got a historic car that he’s currently racing.”

McLaren originally notified the FIA it intended to appeal against the Racing Point decision, but later opted not to proceed.

“What drove our decision was our being comfortable that the FIA recognises this issue, says they don’t like this issue and they want to change it moving forward,” said Brown.

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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...
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...

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22 comments on ““I’ve never been fined a dollar”: McLaren’s Brown responds to Szafnauer criticism”

  1. Nicely put, Zak

  2. This complaining thing is starting to get pretty annoying, I think everyone should shut their mouth and do there work, ego is playing everywhere, teams are acting like they are innocent and speaking things like they have not done anything wrong before. Let the ICA decide who is wrong and who is right.

    1. Personally, I really like his response.

    2. I actually quite like the quips and banter there. Especially since Brown seems well equipped to think of a pithy and fun way of making his poit. Beats them adding “no comment” to just about any question like we got all too often in the recent past.

      1. On the one hand it is pretty enjoyable but to me it also seems like a bit of a contest to get Steiner points for the next drive to survive

        Not aimed esspecially at Brown, but more in general. I wonder whether the lack of interaction with a larger group of journalists makes it more of a performance for all team bosses, from them all being a bit isolated at this point. Not really complaining, but equally I wouldn’t mind more obvious constructive looking for solutions to most of the issues we see come past here.

    3. It is irrelevant if they have done wrong before or not. The question is about what racing point are doing right now and about what punishments others have been dealt. I think it is the first time a partial points deduction has occured for something like this and I can’t believe any fan is not a little perplexed as to how racing point can simply continue to use the parts but be reprimanded after each race for using them. I mean what does that even achieve if there is no further punishment… I am sure racing point are terrified of the next reprimand, knowing that there is never going to be a consequence!

    4. James Franco’s “First Time?” meme ensues.

  3. this kind of article makes me wish i could post gifs :)

    and i got to side with Brown here: knowing the specifics of every regulations isn’t in his job description (he has people to do that for him), making sure his team isn’t found in breach of the regulations is. this kind of ‘call to authority’ argument from Szafnauer was not only extremely arrogant, but also uncalled for (which they usually are)

  4. “he’s got a historic car that he’s currently racing”

    Burn of the year

    1. @maciek Beat me to it by a couple of minutes, lol.

    2. @maciek

      He’s gone up in my opinion hugely for that quip

    3. 2019 is not historic :)

    4. Police? Hello, I just witnessed a murder.

  5. Lol “he’s got a historic car that he is current racing” … priceless.

  6. Maybe Brown was never fined personally, but his team got the motoring sport record fine: $100 million.
    For obtaining copied data…

    1. Yeah, but not under his leadership. That’s what he’s talking about here.

    2. can you compare 400000 to 100000000? about technical info mclaren collected from a rival engineer…that was never used in the car..it was all because a personal conflict back then. you should read before post something about that era.

      1. dio, we know from some of the documentation that was released during the investigations that the initial design of McLaren’s 2008 car did in fact incorporate ideas which had been taken from the F2007, such as a mechanism for adjusting the pressure applied by the rear brakes during the braking phase.

        It is also due to that information that McLaren managed to get a Technical Directive issued that forced Ferrari to redesign their floor, as it had an illegal mechanism that allowed it to bypass the minimum ride height regulations – it was the fact that Ferrari’s illegal floor was found out that caused Ferrari to begin looking into whether somebody was leaking information from within their team.

        It does mean that McLaren do seem to have made use of at least some of the information that came from Ferrari, although it has to be said that, given Ferrari got away with racing the F2007 in an illegal configuration, they arguably don’t have the greatest moral platform to talk about integrity and compliance with the regulations in that case either.

        1. Great info! Thanks.

          Racing Point made their intentions clear and did show their brake duct designs, like all other aspects they copied, to the FIA and asked if it was OK to do so; and the FIA found it all in compliance with the rules.
          It seems very unlikely that McLaren asked the FIA whether it was OK to use F2007 inspired stuff… so RP operated out in the open and McLaren kept it secret. That’s also why Racing Point is disappointed in getting penalized now.

  7. This is good point: Brown said it proved Racing Point’s claim to have only used photographs to copy elements of Mercedes’ 2019 car design was “BS”.

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