May 19, 2021

McLaren calls for secret ballots on F1 rule changes

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The Woking-based outfit has long been uneasy about the growth of partnerships between outfits, with it feeling F1 would be much better off with 10 fully independent competitors.

In a lengthy column he wrote on his team’s website on Thursday, McLaren CEO Zak Brown thinks the time has come for the FIA to step in and end alliances.

He thinks it is not only damaging for competition on track, but he believes such tie-ups mean some outfits are forced to vote for rule changes that are not in their ultimate interests because of their need to support their partners.

“Currently, decisions about the future of the sport can be halted by a minority, rather than majority, and they are further skewed by some teams’ voting power being in favour of their affiliated team partner,” wrote Brown.

“There have even been instances when an affiliated team, to satisfy its bigger partner, has voted in favour of a clear disadvantage to itself. This isn’t sport. This isn’t putting the fans first.

“It is a situation that must be addressed and so we call for secret ballot voting to be implemented in all F1 Commission meetings with immediate effect.

“In other sports the regulatory body has the power of governance because they always focus on what is in the best interests of the sport overall, which should be the key consideration in Formula 1.

“With a change in the voting procedures, it could lead to more agile decision-making that would ultimately benefit the interests of the fans and in doing so the sport at large, including the participants.”

F1’s current rules structures means that regulation changes have to go through the F1 Commission. The body is made up of 30 votes – one for each of the 10 teams, plus 10 for the FIA and 10 for F1.

A rule change for the current season requires a ‘super majority’, which is 28 of the 30 votes in total.

Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Reflecting on the wider partnerships between teams, Brown was clear he did not think it was the right direction for the sport.

“The rise of team affiliations has become unhealthy for our sport,” he added. “It is not in the best interests of competition if two rivals, or even three, share assets and align strategically. One of the fundamental principles of Formula 1, as opposed to other one-make racing series, is an open competition between constructors.

“I do not wish to see the number of teams in F1 reduce, but team affiliations remain an issue because they do not promote a level playing field. This is where further changes need to be made to the governance of Formula 1.

“There have always been conflicts of interest in Formula 1 and it’s unlikely to change anytime soon, so it’s even more important that F1 and the FIA, who have no other agenda than the whole sport’s success, call the shots in the best interests in F1 and not be blocked and slowed at every turn.”

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In the column, Brown also talked about his belief that F1 was in robust shape but felt there were still big opportunities for it to grow over the next few years.

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