Threat of A and B teams has not gone away, warns Brown

Michelle Foster

Andreas Seidl and Zak Brown, McLaren, stand together on the grid. Austria, July 2020.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown fears Formula 1’s current regulations are “diminishing” what it means to a “genuine constructor”.

Formula 1’s powers-that-be have, in recent times, taken steps to try to ensure a level playing field for all 10 teams.

That means a budget cap is in play, there are new technical regulations for this year’s championship, and there is a list of parts that teams can buy from one another.

That list of parts has enabled Aston Martin, for the most part, to field a Mercedes F1 car, AlphaTauri to draw heavily from Red Bull, and the likes of Haas to lean on Ferrari.

And that, Brown says, takes away from what being a constructor should be about.

“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,” the McLaren chief said.

“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.

Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris lead for McLaren in the Italian Grand Prix, ahead of Charles Leclerc's Ferrari. Monza September 2021.

“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.

“Right now, there is too much diversity in the business models between teams. Trying to apply the same set of complex regulations to each, and then policing them effectively, is needlessly complicated and compromised as a result.”

The American reckons especially in light of F1’s new budget cap, which was introduced last season and this year will be lowered by a further $5 million, all the teams should be able to operate on their own.

But it is not just the B teams that are being helped by the A teams, Brown worried that A teams are also benefitting by having a B team.

It should be noted that McLaren is one of the few standalone teams on the grid.

“This cost-capped environment should allow teams to become more recognisable entities in their own right within a realistic budget,” he said, “without the concern of significant performance differences based on how much each team can spend.

“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.”


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