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Concerns Over F1 Dual Ownership F1 2024

McLaren’s Zak Brown Wary of Red Bull’s Dual Role

18/01/2024
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McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown remains “concerned” about Red Bull‘s ownership of AlphaTauri, especially as this team is set to expand its presence in the United Kingdom. Until now, AlphaTauri has been entirely based in Italy.

The new identity of AlphaTauri (Racing Bulls) has yet to be unveiled, but it is the only team fully owned by another Formula 1 team owner, with Red Bull GmbH also controlling Red Bull Racing. While the expansion in the UK is linked to the existing aerodynamics and marketing departments before the team’s name change, Brown argues that dual ownership is no longer acceptable in modern F1.

“Obviously, we want to continue closing the gap,” Brown emphasizes. “We finished last year as the second or third fastest team, depending on which track you were at. The development has been strong. Red Bull certainly didn’t seem to develop last year as much as they could have if they wanted to, so that could be a bad surprise for all of us. And another team might take advantage of that, just because it belongs to Red Bull.”

Concerns Over F1 Dual Ownership

“So yes, I am concerned about the AlphaTauri/Red Bull alliance. AlphaTauri, as I understand it, is moving some of its operations to the UK, which, I believe, will benefit both teams. This A/B team setup and co-ownership – which is a whole other level of A/B teaming – are therefore of great concern to us, for the health of the sport, and for the sport’s fairness.”

“When these measures were implemented, the sport was in a different situation. There was a huge gap between teams like ours with enormous budgets and smaller teams. Now, everyone is more or less at the budget cap, so everyone is playing with the same size of budget. Hence, there is no need for a second team, but it could provide someone with an unfair advantage, and I think that’s something we need to address quickly with the sport.”

Asked to elaborate, Brown adds: “This dual ownership benefits the B team, but I think it also benefits the A team. It’s not just one team that profits; I think both teams benefit. To my knowledge, all other major sports do not allow this.”

“You can imagine if there was an A and B team and the last match of the Premier League year where if the B team loses, they are relegated.”

“This is not a position you want to have in sport, where fans wonder what is happening on the field and whether it’s fair. So there are the rules, which, I think, need to be reviewed quickly. F1 has always been good at making rules. This needs to be resolved quickly to ensure that we have 10 independent constructors.”

Red Bull’s Dual Control: A Fairness Evaluation

However, even though Red Bull dominated 2023 and Max Verstappen clinched the championship with six Grands Prix to spare, Brown acknowledges that the budget cap has definitely tightened the field, and Red Bull deserves credit for managing to perform so well within a budget cap framework.

“I think this cap has been exceptional for the sport. It’s not perfect yet, but I didn’t expect something so new to be without some flaws, which the FIA is addressing.”

“Max had the most dominant season ever by a driver/team, and if you take Max out of the equation – which you can’t – you would have, I believe, for the first time, five teams with at least seven podiums each, and I can’t recall when a 10th place team in the constructors’ standings (Haas) was consistently a threat to others in Q3.”

“We’re all used to the 10th place team being three seconds off the pole. So, I think the budget cap has made F1 much more competitive. I can tell you, sitting on the pit wall, there’s no team that doesn’t seem like a threat to get into Q3, and I think that’s the benefit of the budget cap.”

“Hats off to Adrian Newey and his team, they just did a better job than all of us, and I hope that this kind of dominance will be a thing of the past and that we will end up with a much more competitive grid because we already have it with 19 of the 20 cars.”

Red Bull Dual Ownership: Is It Fair? An Analysis . Red Bull Dual Ownership: Is It Fair? An Analysis

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