McLaren urges F1 to remove rules “barriers” to improve sustainability

2023 F1 season

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McLaren want Formula 1 to use the cost cap to encourage teams to improve the sustainability of their operations and encourage diversity.

Zak Brown, the CEO of McLaren Racing, says teams should be allowed to spend money outside of the cap on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, team wellbeing schemes and programmes for interns and apprentices.

“We strongly believe in the cost cap and wouldn’t want to see anything that undermines its integrity,” said Brown. “But current regulations have created some unintended barriers when it comes to investing in sustainability.”

Last month the FIA World Motor Sport Council agreed some sustainability initiatives will be excluded from the budget cap this year. This will be done “with particular focus on environmental concerns,” the FIA said.

Among the items which may be excluded from the cap are “costs associated with installing sustainable infrastructure, auditing and monitoring of competitors’ carbon footprint, donations to charities engaged in the promotion of environmental sustainability projects and carbon offset programmes.”

However Brown is keen to see the sport go further. “It’s been fantastic to see so much support from F1 and other teams on this issue, and we’re delighted that the FIA has established a working group to explore next steps,” he said. “But to unlock our sport’s potential to drive the development of more sustainable technologies that can spark positive changes on a global scale, we need a genuine step change.

“That requires a level playing field so teams can work towards achieving the same targets and no longer need to choose between investing in car performance and investing in sustainability. Our sport needs a clear regulatory framework with financial, technical and sporting regulations that better enable us all to innovate and invest in sustainability.

“We need to find better ways to share expertise and insights across our industry. Only true collaboration will help us drive meaningful change. And if we want to achieve a step change with the new set of 2026 regulations, then those decisions need to be made now.”

McLaren called for sustainability requirements to be added to the Concorde Agreement and minimum standards for promoters and organisers. The FIA has an Environmental Accreditation programme and in 2022 McLaren was given the top three-star rating for the ninth year in a row.

The team also want to see changes to the technical rules which would encourage the use of more sustainable materials and processes. McLaren previously used a seat made from natural fibres in Lando Norris’ car in 2021. However the increased weight of alternatives to regular carbon fibre can make them an undesirable option.

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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...

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21 comments on “McLaren urges F1 to remove rules “barriers” to improve sustainability”

  1. Whilst I appreciate the sentiment, I’d much rather Mclaren focus entirely on fixing its dreadful car instead of getting sidetracked.

    1. Its more important to be green and diverse.

    2. Maybe they want to win the enviromental championship as Williams did few years back

  2. Said this before – the first rule change should be removal of any minimum weight requirement. All of the safety requirements are legislated for so they will not be impacted, and with a cost cap there will be little or no ability to use “exotic materials”.

    The cap is an ideal opportunity to loosen the rules and bring innovation back into the sport rather than legislating every curve, angle and winglet.

    1. I am sorry but I do not think you can do that. This would enforce a race to the bottom regarding driver weights.

  3. Zak Brown a man of great imagination but very little concreteness. He has been talking about everything but his own team poor performances. He’s done absolutely nothing to lift McLaren out of their miserable situation. It’s time for him to go.

    1. RandomMallard
      18th May 2023, 12:41

      @tifoso1989 As a McLaren fan, I think Zak Brown brings a huge amount of concrete to the team. After all, they used it to build the MCL60 this season…

      1. Hahaha :) Nice one ! Even as a Ferrari fan it pains me to see McLaren in such situation and Brown has done absolutely nothing but showing off in press conferences.

    2. @tifoso1989 This might just be the best they can do with the money they are able to pull together for the F1 project. Didn’t they sell the factory a few years ago to get some cash on hand?

      That said, they do have some long-term issues with the handling of their cars that point to a design philosophy that needs change. But like Mercedes, it seems someone high up in the organization is very fond of that particular path so it’s seemingly impossible to get it changed.

      1. MichaelN,
        The issue with McLaren is that their shareholders just want to milk every penny out of the company with no interest in investing in it. I can’t think otherwise, the main shareholder is Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company who aren’t short of cash. Same goes for the rest of the shareholders. McLaren F1 team died the day they wanted to start a car company business, period. It was just a matter of time and Martin Whitmarsh have only accelerated that process.

  4. In the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion Zak should hire Dylan Mulvaney as a driver. A beer company in America recently had a lot of success with that sort of thing…

  5. Didnt Red Bull get busted for this? Was t there cost cap breach due to catering or something unrelated to car development?
    Sounds like MaClaren is trying to find a way to spend more on the car to fix its problem.

  6. It’s a fair point insofar as it talks about the use of facilities and materials. What is commonly called sustainable is usually more expensive than the alternatives. A cost cap thus creates a strong incentive to forgo such sustainable options, which probably isn’t what the FIA is looking to achieve. That said, McLaren apparently still receives top credit from the FIA, so either the standards are easy to reach, or it’s not that big of an issue.

    The point about diversity is less well argued. Nothing about the cost cap is stopping McLaren from doing business with people of whatever background, situation or nationality.

  7. DEI (diversity equity inclusion) would be the death of not just McLaren, but all teams and F1. Would you rather hire the best people available or hire just anyone just because you “need” to include them? Motorsport is about winning, not diversity.

    1. It is mostly about winning. For a lot of series it’s also just the fun of it, and the desire to compete at iconic events even though there’s no real chance of winning. Even in F1, some teams are seemingly mostly there to collect the commercial rights payout that is effectively earned by the better teams putting on a compelling show.

      That aside, there are barriers to certain people ‘getting the job’ despite their qualities. An organisation that’s aware of those and puts more effort into getting the actual best people isn’t doing it to check boxes on a list, but to improve their own performance. And McLaren can use some fresh input on that front.

    2. Seems like not a lot of teams are meeting your lofty standards.

    3. You can pretend barriers don’t exist (so that it fits with your narrative). Still, several barriers can prevent people from getting the opportunity, even if they possess the necessary qualities and qualifications.

      In Formula 1, like in many other sports, there can be various barriers that prevent certain individuals from “getting the job,” even if they possess the necessary qualifications. While the sport has taken steps towards promoting inclusivity and diversity in recent years, there are still several challenges that can hinder opportunities for certain individuals. Some of these barriers include:

      Formula 1 is an expensive sport, and securing a seat as a driver or even obtaining a position within a team often requires significant financial backing. Drivers who come from wealthier backgrounds or have access to sponsorship opportunities may have an advantage over those who lack financial resources.

      Access to motorsport and karting at a young age is crucial for developing racing skills and progressing through the motorsport ladder. However, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds may face limited access to such opportunities due to financial constraints or lack of support infrastructure.

      Historically, Formula 1 has had a lack of diversity, with few women and individuals from minority backgrounds represented in key roles. This lack of representation can create a perception that certain groups are less likely to succeed, leading to biases in the selection process.

      Like in many industries, networking and connections play a significant role in securing opportunities within Formula 1. Individuals who have connections or established relationships within the industry may find it easier to access job openings or receive recommendations.

      Women in Formula 1 face additional barriers due to gender bias. Despite the presence of talented female drivers, the sport has seen very few women competing at the highest levels. This lack of representation and the associated stereotypes can discourage women from pursuing careers in Formula 1.

      Formula 1 is an international sport, and opportunities may be concentrated in certain regions, such as Europe. Individuals from other parts of the world may face logistical challenges in accessing opportunities or may be overlooked due to the focus on specific geographic areas.

      It is important to note that these barriers are not insurmountable, and efforts are being made within the sport to address them. Initiatives such as diversity programs, talent scouting, and awareness campaigns are being implemented to promote inclusivity and break down these barriers, allowing more individuals to have a fair chance of securing jobs in Formula 1.

      1. @khurtwilliams I agree with most of what you’ve said here, but I think there is a lot of talented women in F1, for instance 2 teams have had women as Team Principal. Monish Kaltenborn was CEO of Sauber and took over the Team Principal role until they were bought out. Claire Williams was running Williams until they were bought out as well. That’s a big chunk of the last decade that had women at the helm, in high visibility roles. It’s a cutthroat world in F1, if you can rise to the top, you are head and shoulders above your competition, no matter who they are.

  8. this kind of obvious corporate jargon isn’t fooling anyone into knowing he just wants to be able to spend more money on the car.

  9. Shouldn’t the teams be doing these sort of things already? If they are responsible corporate entities?

  10. This is way more effective than lewis’ shouting. Mclaren taking action not just self image building

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