Zak Brown Urges FIA to End F1 Team Partnerships

Zak Brown, the CEO of McLaren, has raised alarms over the growing partnership between Red Bull and its associated team, VCARB (previously known as RB).

Brown suggests that this enhanced cooperation could lead to competitive disparities, undermining the equitable nature of Formula 1 competition.

Red Bull Racing has been a fixture in Formula 1 since its inception in 2005, broadening its influence by taking over Minardi within the same year.

This acquisition resulted in the transformation of Minardi into Toro Rosso (which underwent a further name change to AlphaTauri in 2020), positioning it as the feeder team for Red Bull.

This arrangement has facilitated the rise of notable drivers such as Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Danil Kvyat, and Daniel Ricciardo from Toro Rosso to the primary Red Bull squad.

The revelation that AlphaTauri is set for a rebranding in 2024, along with plans for a closer technical collaboration with Red Bull, has ignited additional scrutiny.

The partnership is expected to encompass the sharing of technical elements including gearboxes, both front and rear suspension systems, clutches, and the rear impact structures.

Brown’s insights highlight the need for scrutiny regarding team partnerships in the sport, underlining the importance of preserving competitive equity to uphold the Formula 1 championship’s credibility.

Marko addressed the collaboration, affirming that the VCARB-01 model would be developed from the RB19 blueprint:

“The orientation is clear: based on Red Bull Racing, as far as the regulations allow. Do-it-yourself constructions are the wrong way.”

Following these developments, some team principals expressed displeasure, with Brown being particularly outspoken about the matter.

The American initially called for the introduction of regulations to prevent teams from collaborating closely.

In reaction to Brown’s accusations, Peter Bayer, an executive chief at RB, dismissed them as mere ‘paranoia’:

“We have to be careful [not] to overreact to the paranoia of certain people.”

After the unveiling of the MCL38, Brown once again emphasized his position on the matter of team co-ownership. He appealed to the FIA to intervene and address the issue to avoid any unfair competitive advantages.

Initially, Brown was questioned regarding Bayer’s remarks and whether he felt ‘paranoid’ about the relationship between Red Bull and RB:

“No, I’m actually speaking in the wider interest of the sport.”

“If you look at every other major sport, you’re not allowed to own two teams – and I’d even go further.

Brown further commented “There’s A-B team relationships and when these started 15 years ago it was because there was a huge gap between the top teams and the bottom teams.”

“Now that there’s this great budget cap in place, all 10 teams are pretty much running to the cap so we have an equal playing field.

“So to have two ownerships, I can tell you from sitting in the FIA and F1 Commission meetings the voting is always the same even when, in theory, it shouldn’t be in one of the team’s best interests.

“We’ve seen it on track, some collaborations going on, and then technically they’ve been very forthright in where they’re going to take the suspension, etc.

“The definition of a constructor is a team who develops their own IP, so I just think the sport’s now moved on to an equal playing field.

“To have A-B relationships, to have co-ownership of two teams, I think isn’t a level playing field.

That’s not what the fans expect and so the FIA really needs to do something about it.”