Zak Brown echoes the promising prospects of F1’s financial landscape, but has called out the “thinly veiled” attempts of rival teams to protect themselves.
Brown welcomes the reduction of the “inevitable advantage” that the biggest spenders enjoy, most likely hinting at the likes of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari – with Ferrari in particular enjoying an outright veto on almost every aspect of the sport before the latest Concorde Agreement came into effect.
He also attacks the search for “excuses” from teams looking for a cap increase, notably recently through the Sprint format and the challenges it may bring financially. The latest push is via the sprint races where big teams are rallying for increase in the budget cap to cover extra expenses for running the car and if in case there are incidents.
“Our opportunity to be competitive has been underpinned with the introduction of the budget cap in F1, with the spending limit reducing to $140m this year and $135m next, the new financial regulations present us – and the sport as a whole – with a fairer framework to compete by reducing the inevitable advantage of the biggest-spending and best-resourced teams,” wrote Brown.
“However, we must continue to drive economic sustainability across the sport. Some teams still look for excuses to raise the cost cap and win world championships with chequebooks. The ongoing lobbying by certain teams to increase the cost cap for sprint race damage is a continuing example. The Saturday sprint race initiative by Formula 1 has added new viewers and raised the profile of the sport to expand its global fanbase.
“However, these teams continue to demand a raise to the cost cap by an inordinate amount of money, despite the clear evidence that little damage was incurred during these races last year, in a thinly veiled attempt to protect from their competitive advantage being eroded. The current governance structure of the sport enables a situation where some teams, to protect their own competitive advantage, are effectively holding the sport hostage from what’s best for the fans and therefore the sport at large.
“These teams seem unable to accept that a budget cap is in the best interests of the sport and cannot kick their habit of spending their way to the front,” summed up Brown before expanding more on the Sprint events, firm backer of the format, he again calls for the sport to “resist” raising the budget cap for accident damage purposes.
“Anytime you do something new in any sport, you’ll get an element of different fan reaction,” said Brown to media including FormulaRapida.net. “I don’t think the format is perfect, but I don’t think anyone’s claimed the format is perfect. What we need to do to get a total alignment is that some want to take the opportunity to raise the cost cap.
“A few of the teams and we’re adamantly opposed to raising the cost cap on anything, so we’re gonna need to work through that issue. The reality is there was very little damage [last] year. When this was proposed to us in 2022, they did a report on the damage that was occurring on opening laps and it showed there was very little damage and yet a couple of the teams still want to take the opportunity to raise the budget by a ridiculous number.
“I saw more crashes in practice than I have in the sprint races. I think it might be new to some teams to actually have to manage a budget. But I think that’s in the spirit of the sport, you could certainly match the revenue to the expense and resolve that but I think the revenue will grow over time. I think we need to be very careful, we’ve put a lot of work to be fiscally sustainable, that certain teams take the opportunity to try and raise that all the time. We need to resist that,” summed up Brown, who has recently revealed that the sprint races might be in a threat for 2022 due to impasse on finance side.
Moving on, Brown brought back the “threat” topic of so-called A and B teams from several years ago that reared its head firstly around the time of Toro Rosso’s debut season (effectively Red Bull’s ‘B’ team) and again when Haas joined the grid with a heavily Ferrari-based Dallara designed chassis which rival teams quickly disregarded as against the spirit of F1.
Brown thinks the teams are increasingly now colluding together in a way that is limiting the ‘constructors’ tag. “The threat of A and B teams has not gone away, and it is vital that the governance of the sport is strengthened to prevent this,” he started. “The regulations, as they stand today, are heavily biased towards B teams/customer teams which is not in line with F1’s principle of a group of genuine constructors competing with one another on even terms. It is diminishing what being an F1 ‘team’ means and the fabric of the sport.
“F1 needs to be 10 true constructors, where each team – apart from sharing the PU and potentially the gearbox internals – must design and produce all parts which are performance relevant. In a nutshell, the current situation allows B teams to be overcompetitive compared to constructors, and A teams to be overcompetitive by having the benefit of a B team.
“Without a correction, the way things stand mean that any team with championship aspirations needs to have a B team in place and that simply is not Formula 1. On top of this, the voting pressure placed by the A teams on their B teams is not consistent with the promotion of an equitable sport based on individual team merit. As I have said before – and these teams won’t admit to it – there are times when some smaller teams vote against their own interests to satisfy the agenda of their A team,” summed up Brown.
The story was written by Danny Herbert
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