Sergio Perez, Yuki Tsunoda, Interlagos, 2023

Formula 1 shouldn’t allow rival teams to have same owner – Brown

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by

Formula 1 has allowed an “unhealthy” situation to develop by allowing individual organisations to own more than one team, according to McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has said.

Brown used an “open letter” published on his team’s website to call on F1 to ban any organisation from owning multiple teams in the series.

Soft drink manufacturer Red Bull owns both the Red Bull Racing and AlphaTauri teams. It purchased the latter at the end of 2005 and originally branded it as Toro Rosso, Italian for ‘Red Bull’.

However some team principals have begun to question whether teams sharing the same owner should be outlawed. Speaking exclusively to RaceFans in October, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner noted “there is a lot of other sports where that is not allowed” and “this will be for sure an argument which sooner or later will come up.”

Brown made the same point in his letter today, writing “most other major sports prohibit the ownership of two teams within the same league because of the obvious potential damage that it does to competition.

“It’s an unhealthy situation because it impacts decisions made both on and off the track. Whether it’s a case of having access to more data, sharing components [or] personnel, or even having influence over a strategic vote, it’s not in the spirit of the regulations.”

He believes sharing of some parts, including power units, should be allowed. McLaren recently extended its commitment to buy engines and hybrid drivetrains from Mercedes.

But Brown wants to see the rule makers do more to ensure teams operate independently of each other.

“It’s important to stand up for independence, competition and fairness, and I’d like to see changes in the regulations to ensure that in future, they stop influence spreading from one team to another through strategic alliances and especially through ownership,” he said. “Formula 1 should be true to its brand, and every team – except power units – should be totally independent of each other.

“I believe Formula 1 fans universally believe in fairness in competition and a level playing field, and would reject any actions that compromise the true spirit of competition within Formula 1. Part sharing of information, shared ownership models, and strategic alliances within the sporting fabric of Formula 1 will only serve to undermine the fans’ belief in fair and fierce competition.”

AlphaTauri will change names again next year. Its cars appeared under the title ‘RB’ on the entry list for the 2024 F1 season published by the FIA, but a team representative told RaceFans this is a “placeholder” name which will be revised before the new season begins.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Formula 1

Browse all Formula 1 articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

51 comments on “Formula 1 shouldn’t allow rival teams to have same owner – Brown”

  1. Easy fix, transfer their entry to Andretti. It’s not as if they know what to do with the teams identity anyway.

    The $200m they would have used for anti-dilusion instead goes to Red Bull.

    That’s what we call a win-win-win.

    1. Red Bull don’t want to sell… yet.

    2. There are numerous of other shady constructions in this F1 ecosystem, this is another on the pile and hardly the one to look at first when of if someone would ever have the agenda to make this a fair competition.

  2. If Red Bull had not bought Minardi and kept it alive as Torro Rosso and Alpha Tauri, it’s probable we’d have 1 team less than we do now.
    Manor, Marussia, HRT, Caterham, Spyker, Super Aguri, and Midland, all folded since 2005.

    1. I think that’s very unlikely, they’d easily have allowed andretti\others in if the number of teams left had been critical.

    2. IIRC, that was pretty much the case.
      On early 2000s it was not certain that F1 could field a 20 cars grid.
      And I dont think one could assume that was a power move, as the main REd Bull team werent that stellar.

      1., on the contrary, Red Bull explicitly stated that one of the incentives behind buying Minardi was for increased political leverage within the sport. To quote from Red Bull’s original statement in 2005 on acquiring Minardi: “This acquisition also means that Red Bull now has a second vote in any matters raised regarding the future of Formula 1.”.

  3. What about if the other team only photocopies the information, but doesn’t “officially” share it?

    1. Hahahaha

  4. He has a valid point but it all depends on the money I guess. If you have more money, you’re likely to have decisions in your favor.

  5. I’ve been wondering for 15 years when this was going to pop up as a political issue.

    I thought someone might have raised it sooner especially given the budget cap situation.

    I guess the only reason it hasn’t been perceived as an issue is that the second red bull team has never been super competitive.

    1. Besides a potential breach of the budget cap with owning two teams (which is something Red Bull specialises in), its against the ethos of the sport for a driver from one team to let the driver of a rival team by.

      There have been plenty of occasions where Toro Rosso drivers haven’t fought the Red Bull drivers on track, hence gaining them positions which has changed the championship outcome. That is a much larger issue to address.. we have effectively 3 drivers favouring 1 driver’s championship challenge.

      1. its against the ethos of the sport for a driver from one team to let the driver of a rival team by.

        Tell that to anyone and everyone who wishes to move up from a customer team to a manufacturer-backed team – especially those part of a driver academy, and in a team which sources engines, gearboxes and suspension systems from a rival.
        Oh, and be sure to inform the drivers that they must disobey their own strategists and team bosses too, as that’s typically where such an instruction comes from.

        F1 simply isn’t a proper sporting competition and never will be, regardless of how many teams one owner has control over – because they aren’t the only ones who partake in this style of participation.

        That is a much larger issue to address..

        It sure is. A complete impossibility, I’d say.

      2. @Todfod

        There are rules about parts sharing and the like. There is no particular reason to believe that RB is more likely to breach them. In fact, Racing Point was found to be in violation of the parts sharing rules when they used designs handed to them by Mercedes, despite the teams not being owned by the same people.

        And of course there have been plenty of occasions where Torro Rosso drivers haven’t fought RB drivers, just like Haas, Alfa Romeo and Williams have let by the faster teams without a fight. That’s unfortunately in their own interest due to tire degradation if they do fight. I have seen no evidence that Torro Rosso is manipulating the championship by fighting some teams and not others, other than when it makes sense for the team itself.

        But your comment seems to be written around a narrative, leaving out the facts that don’t fit with that narrative.

        1. I agree, it is seen throughout the field where drivers are in their own fight and it simply would cost them to go to battle with a top team car for tire reasons but als because of drs which would void their efforts on the next straight.

      3. its against the ethos of the sport for a driver from one team to let the driver of a rival team by.

        Sauber, 1990s. Massa in particular, but plenty of other Sauber drivers who would jump out of the way at the near presence of a Ferrari.
        I’m more concerned about the fact that no one attempts to defend these days, as its not beneficial in the long run in terms of strategy over a full race distance.

        1. The Sauber-let-Ferrari-by story dies hard, but it’s just a myth. It actually never happened. Massa btw “raced” for Sauber in 2002 and 2004 the all conquering Ferraris. There was no need to let them by as they were never behind them.
          But, and imho, even worse Sauber driver Fontana was under instruction by Jean Todt to hold Villeneuve up in Jerez 1997 while beeing lapped (but of course we had the strange truth between Williams and McLaren the same race).

          1. @roadrunner it was rare for Massa to be ahead of a Ferrari in 2002 or 2004 for position, but there were a handful of times where Massa did end up ahead of one or both Ferrari’s.

            The 2002 Malaysian GP saw Schumacher drop to the back of the field after breaking his front wing off during a first lap clash with Montoya, and differences in pit stop strategy meant that, for 6 laps, Massa was ahead of Barrichello during the 2004 British GP.

            Massa led Barrichello again for a while in the 2004 German GP after Barrichello collided with Coulthard and broke his front wing, and in the 2004 Belgian GP, Massa did end up ahead of Barrichello after both drivers had to pit for repairs due to accidents on the first lap.

            Massa was briefly ahead of Schumacher for 5 laps in the Italian GP, and was also ahead in the Chinese GP and briefly in the Brazilian GP (although, in both cases, that was because Schumacher had grid penalties for unscheduled engine changes).

            That said, I suspect that the complaint is not so much about the cases where Massa might have been fighting a Ferrari driver for position, but rather a question about compliance with blue flags and the ease with which they let a Ferrari driver by versus a non-Ferrari driver.

            Trying to quantify that is likely to be more nebulous, particularly since it would also depend quite heavily on the context of those passes in the race situation and where they were occurring on track.

    2. I guess the only reason it hasn’t been perceived as an issue is that the second red bull team has never been super competitive.

      That might just have something to do with the number two team doing the negative performance affecting research:
      Honda engine development
      Driver training
      to name two items that are visible.

  6. Zak Brown is a team principal I usually like, and the only one keen to see Andretti join the grid. I feel he is the one team boss that sees Formula One through the fans eyes, and perhaps I can understand his comments.

    However, I wish to say that Toro Rosso / Alpha Tauri is a stroke of genius. If anything, all the top teams should have a ‘Toro Rosso’; a team where the next generation are vetted for their potential, while competing in the premier class, not a junior category.

    IF some of the top teams fielded a ‘Toro Rosso’ like Red Bull do, these are potential line-ups we are missing out on for 2024:
    Merc Junior : Frederik Vesti and Mick Schumacher
    Ferrari Junior : Robert Shwartzman and Oliver Bearman
    Alpine Junior : Jack Doohan and Victor Martins
    McLaren Junior: Patricio O’Ward and Ryo Hirakawa
    Aston Martin Junior: Felipe Drugovich and Ayumu Iwasa

    As it is, Toto Wolff has struggled to convince Williams to take his juniors over the years, while we’ve seen Ferrari juniors like Shwartzman and Ilott come through and, after Formula 2, they have nowhere to go. Even at Alpine, a talent like Oscar Piastri had to sit on the sidelines for a year, and if McLaren didn’t take him, he’d still be there. Doohan has run out of options too.

    Now, I haven’t really liked how Helmut Marko runs his junior program, constantly changing drivers. However, his up-and-comers in F2 and F3 know there is a chance for them at Faenza, and Red Bull are also more likely to send drivers to race in Japan as well, so the options are there for aspiring drivers.

    1. IF some of the top teams fielded a ‘Toro Rosso’ like Red Bull do, these are potential line-ups we are missing out on for 2024:
      Merc Junior : Frederik Vesti and Mick Schumacher
      Ferrari Junior : Robert Shwartzman and Oliver Bearman
      Alpine Junior : Jack Doohan and Victor Martins
      McLaren Junior: Patricio O’Ward and Ryo Hirakawa
      Aston Martin Junior: Felipe Drugovich and Ayumu Iwasa

      Which sounds like a decent line-up in the short form race run on some race weekend Saturdays.

      Now there’s a win-win: No “sprint” and driver training in a competitive scenario.

      1. +1, i wish to subscribe to your newsletter

    2. Excellent.
      Plus Andretti: Colton Herta & Liam Lawson

  7. Nothing to see here. Just because one of the B team’s drivers was impeded during qualifying by one of the A team’s drivers, and the B team didn’t bother going to the stewards’ meeting to discuss the impeding, doesn’t mean the A team and B team collude.

    1. They do that all the time, it’s why the A team principal frequently comments on the affairs of the B team and shows himself to have both knowledge of, and control over, their operations,

    2. That was an odd one indeed, but hardly RB or TR fault as we should look at the regulation which is ready for an update. Why would a referee need to hear both parties first? So a rule change is needed. Would be really kind of counterproductive if TR would have shown up with the current regulatory framework.

  8. I don’t see anything changing, the ownership has been the same all this time. Why is it only now an issue?

    1. Probably because 9 other teams on the grid have to develop their cars to a budget while the RBR B team inherits last years all conquering RBR for next to nothing. It stinks and its not fair. That’s without the skewed power having extra votes in hand, more data sharing opportunities across teams. The current situation should have been resolved years ago.

      1. Even more so imo with how hard they’re making it for new teams to join: it basically gives a massive advantage to who already got a 2nd team, well before the budget cap era, cause if it weren’t for teams being so limited, now ferrari and mercedes especially could introduce a b team as well to test stuff.

      2. Probably because 9 other teams on the grid have to develop their cars to a budget while the RBR B team inherits last years all conquering RBR for next to nothing

        That’s completely untrue, of course. Unless you think the FIA are in on it too, and Alpha Tauri are deliberately running their cars with reduced performance solely as a deflection tactic.

        its not fair

        It is, in at least two ways.
        Firstly, the teams are clearly complying with all rules regarding exchange of parts and information, and doing what they need to do independent of each other to stay within said rules. If there were even a hint of doubt, other teams would certainly be all over it. There are no surprises in the F1 paddock – everyone talks. Some teams even place ‘friends’ inside the FIA…
        And secondly, there is nothing (today) preventing other teams from purchasing and operating another existing F1 team in exactly the same manner, nor simply ‘teaming up’ with another (semi-independent) team in much the same way.
        Actually, Ferrari. Haas and Sauber have a pretty cosy relationship, don’t they… Mercedes has been known to be quite friendly with Williams and Aston Martin too, haven’t they.

        As for the political situation – that typically runs down engine manufacturer lines anyway in exactly the same way as shared ownership does.
        I can’t remember the last time a customer team voted against their manufacturer-supplier’s team’s wishes. It doesn’t happen very often.

      3. People seem to be missing the fact that Haas has always been picking up more from Ferrari, and Williams from Mercedes.
        Toro Tauri is only catching up now to what’s allowed under the regulations.

        1. Exactly. They’ve actually been doing it less than other teams.

          But there are a bunch of people in this comment section with a large bias and a taste for sour grapes, probably because they are supporters for a team that won for many years in a row. The level of entitlement they feel is apparently enormous and they are lashing out now that the team is no longer winning.

        2. notagrumpyfan, in the case of Haas and Ferrari, there is a distinct split in terms of operations and structure – Haas commissions Dallara for design work, with Ferrari then in turn providing components to Dallara.

          In the case of Williams and Mercedes, your claim that Williams buys more components from Mercedes than Alpha Tauri buys from Red Bull is, quite bluntly, wrong. The list of components that Williams buys from Mercedes would be the power unit, gearbox and parts of the hydraulic system – whereas we know from Alpha Tauri itself that they buy more components from Red Bull than that (for example, the rear suspension is purchased as a complete unit from Red Bull).

    2. Given it’s come from Brown at this particular time, it’s probably motivated by his team’s new owners.

  9. Whats the story that’s beneath this story? Why is Zak Brown bringing this up, and why now?

    What have RBR & AT done that’s prompted him to openly question the arrangement, and bring up things like independence, fairness and the spirit of competition?

    1. @tomcat173 earlier this year, Red Bull announced that they would be relocating staff from Alpha Tauri into Red Bull’s own facilities in Milton Keynes. Amongst the staff moving were the whole of Alpha Tauri’s wind tunnel testing team, who will now be sharing Red Bull’s wind tunnel.

      Perhaps the biggest sticking point is the possibility of Red Bull placing staff on secondment to Alpha Tauri and whether that would breach the requirements for independence between the two teams.

      1. Aston Martin was using the Mercedes wind tunnel for a long time, before they built their own. This is allowed and FIA does strict inspections to make sure that the teams don’t share data and such.

        In general, I don’t really understand why something would be different now, compared to Aston Martin, who has actually been found to be in violation of the rules due to illegal data/parts sharing. RB has the same rules as other teams and apparently, a team like Aston already has close enough ties with another team to get blueprints from them, without being owned by the same people/entity.

        If Zak thinks that the rules are too lenient or the inspections are not good enough, he can make suggestions, but it seems strange to single out RB as a reason, rather than a team like Aston.

        1. To me it’s just the fear that AT might afterall end up beating McL next year with parts from RB19. Reeks of insecurity.

  10. Sell the “B” team to Andretti Cadillac let them rebrand it put the Renault powerplant in and everything should be OK.
    Only problem for RB is too many contracted drivers to sit beside Verstappen, who will it be?
    Will any of the other teams scramble to sign up the 2 drivers without a seat?
    Personally I hope Zak & Gunter are successful in forcing change making RB sell their “B” team

  11. Every single time there is some sort of vote:
    – All Mercedes powered teams vote A
    – All Ferrari powered teams vote B
    – The Red Bull teams vote C
    – And Renault vote D

    It is not like its everyone for them selves. Doubt it has ever been.
    Especially Toto Wolff has had huge power over the last decade, pressuring his costumer teams to align to his agenda.

    And regarding on-track action, Red Bull / Alpha Tauri has been racing fair enough. OK it was weird that Tost didn’t show up at the stewards office in Singapore, but otherwise they’ve been racing hard. Perez crashed Yuki that very same weekend. Albon still has to life with “they race me SO HARD” quote.
    Drivers adjusting their approach depending on who they’re racing is not unheard of. Ocon for example while he was on loan to Renault while being lined up for Mercedes was waving Hamilton by at Monaco one year. Reading between the lines, Russel was expected to do the same for Bottas in Imola (but instead they crashed).

    I find Browns comments a bit silly to be honest. If you doubt the FIA can oversee Alpha Tauri sufficiently enough just write them a letter or take it up at a meeting.

    1. Reading between the lines, Russel was expected to do the same for Bottas in Imola (but instead they crashed).

      You forgot to mention that Wolff explicitly threatened Russell with not getting a seat in the Mercedes after that crash. A clear attempt at manipulating the championship, IMO.

  12. Given that Red Bull and AT (or whatever they call it this year) have been responsible for introducing some pretty good drivers via their “B” team, I’d be loathe to rule against their ownership.

    Not sure why it’s an issue now. Maybe because Red Bull was smart enough to buy Minardi and no one else did?

    History will show that it’s actually been good for F1.

    1. I agree – Formula One has benefited from having a team with a clear directive to hire promising new drivers. Evenmoreso as normally, drivers who look ‘very good’ but not world champion material are moved on after a year or two and have now populated a large chunk of the field.

      I do think the relationship is different to Mercedes/Williams or Ferrari/Haas where there is a close dependence but not actual common ownership, so I get why some teams would worry about them sharing a wind tunnel — but I hope any changes arising from this keep that mission to hire new.

  13. Tad confused why this is an issue “now” given it’s always been common knowledge Haas take more of the Ferrari than Toro Rosso/AlphaTauri took from Red Bull. Even after their ‘closer collaboration’ comes into effect, they’re still not taking as much and will still be building a lot in house.

    Like this implication of the partner team being just handed the keys to an already established and strong car hasn’t been done for years – as far as I know that was banned entirely. We’re a long, long way from when Honda just handed the RA106/7 to Super Aguri, or when the Toro Rosso was literally a repainted Red Bull.

    Also worth pointing out, if this years Red Bull had not won the title so dominantly I don’t think anyone would care at all given there’s only so much you can do with an already established chassis. Big fuss over nothing.

    1. Considering there’s no real reason to have 2 teams in the same facility then the question is “why bother now?”. RB wouldn’t be doing it without a reason that benefits them, especially seeing as they have reduced wind tunnel usage thanks to being current champions and their previous cheating that gave them their current advantage.
      Certainly I’d consider keeping a close eye on their floor early next year, see if some of the concepts tested on the AT crop up on there.

  14. Meanwhile, on the Alpine official website, a open letter is posted stating that Formula1 shouldn’t allow teams to high jack the reserve drivers of other teams…

    I can’t feel much sympathy for Zak Brown, I think he whines to much. It’s probably just that HE hasn’t got the funding to buy a second team so other teams shouldn’t have one either.
    But then again, this is all part of the sport. F1 isn’t just about the fastest drivers in the fastest cars, it’s also about what happens off-track. As long as the on-track action plays the major part, I’m fine with it.

    I used to be a fan of McLaren, when Ron Dennis was at his best, and they used to do well on-track. But Mercedes and Red Bull are doing a better job now, in the off-track department too.

  15. While I agree with the idea someone shouldn’t own two teams, most teams are owned by shareholders, so this implies someone can’t have shares in two teams. Again, I agree with that, but what if the shareholder is a bank or an engine manufacturer? When you consider the extremely high cost of engines then one can’t be surprised if a team ends up being told what to do by their engine supplier.
    I don’t agree with a team being owned by an engine manufacturer, e.g. Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari, especially if that supplier is supplying more than one team, but the engines and hybrid systems are very expensive to make, so one can’t be surprised if they want to own a team so as to protect their investment.

  16. it’s a bit like having lots of online accounts so you can say something with one account and then praise yourself with another one! Or repeat the point so it sounds like it’s popular. Self-interest. It’s obviously an advantage to have two teams, with tactics, on track favours, drivers needing so much F1 time before they’re ready, all kinds of data who knows, votes in meetings… so the other teams aren’t liking it. It doesn’t matter about how it started, it’s an advantage now, that other teams can’t have, end of really

    1. drivers needing so much F1 time before they’re ready,

      Oh, that one is easy to sort, we just Domenicalli to admit he is wrong and then the aspiring F1 drivers can have a short form race on a number (all?) race weekends in last year’s F1 car in a competitive scenario to bring them up to the right level.

      Admittedly, getting Domenicalli to change course on the “sprint” isn’t a small hurdle.

      1. Using last year’s F1 cars is a nice idea. They’re wasted at the moment and F2 is such a huge step lower isn’t it, not really preparation

  17. Just part of the latest pile on from Club Merc to destabilize the FIA

Comments are closed.