McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown wants Formula 1 to implement secret voting in the F1 Commission as well as rotate where it hosts testing and races in future.
Brown has published his views on where F1 currently stands as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it needs to evolve in the future under Stefano Domenicali’s leadership. One area in which he was particularly forthright was with regards to customer teams and their relationships with the bigger outfits, saying it is leading to pressure on smaller teams when it comes to voting on changes within F1.
“The rise of team affiliations has become unhealthy for our sport,” Brown said. “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.
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“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.
“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 favor of their affiliated team partner. There have even been instances when an affiliated team, to satisfy its bigger partner, has voted in favor 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.”
Among a number of other changes he wants to see made, Brown also calls for pre-season testing to take place at a new venue each year and used to allow fans to get closer to the sport, while also rotating where some races are held.
“While it’s vital that Formula 1 retains its European roots and traditions, the impact of the pandemic last year proved that a shake-up of the calendar had a positive impact with the fans. We need to look at opportunities for expanding F1’s reach across the globe, in particular in Asia and the Americas, but limit the number of rounds we compete in.
“The intensity of a 25-race global schedule, designed to add in more race locations around the world, places a challenging physical and mental strain on traveling personnel. A better way to race across 25 markets would be to have an F1 season of, say, 20 races, of which 15 or so would be fixed annual events and the remaining five shared between different venues, on a rotational basis each year.
“It’s important we have variety in our race venues and allow new countries the opportunity to host a grand prix, while maintaining a level of scarcity value in our sport. By comparison, NFL teams play only 17 regular season games across a four-month period, but the sport boasts some of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. So volume doesn’t automatically equate to success.”