McLaren's Zak Brown spares no punches laying into F1's 'chequebook racing teams'

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McLaren CEO, Zak Brown
McLaren CEO, Zak Brown

McLaren CEO Zak Brown feels F1 is being 'held hostage' by 'chequebook racing teams' who have failed to grasp the concept of what a budget cap means.

In 2021, Formula 1 introduced a cost cap of $145million levelled at the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull to help their rivals try and compete on a more level playing field.

This year, it dropped to $140m and then to $135m in 2023.

Brown now claims lobbying is going on behind the scenes to increase the limit, with sprint races being used as the excuse. Sprint races were introduced in 2021 for three Grands Prix. This year, six races will feature as sprint races.

Both Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto and Red Bull's Christian Horner wanted the budget cap increased last year to accommodate any damage sustained and general racing costs.

Daniel Ricciardo,mclaren,f1,formula 1,formula one
McLaren's 2021 F1 car

Brown's opinion

In a column on the McLaren website, Brown gives his opinion on issues concerning the budget cap by the big F1 teams. He wrote: "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 F1 has added new viewers and raised the sport's profile 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 their competitive advantage from 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."

The McLaren CEO spoke about how the cost cap had benefited them.

Brown added: "The combination of our talent and know-how with investments from our shareholders, partners, and robust financial stewardship has positioned us well for the next stage in our competitive journey. And our opportunity to be competitive has been underpinned by introducing 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."

Daniel Ricciardo,imola, lando norris
McLaren's 2021 F1 car
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