Ross Brawn has applauded Formula 1’s decision to do away with unanimous decisions, saying with eight teams “we can get things done in the short term” while only five are needed for decisions affecting the next season.
Appointed as F1’s managing director by Liberty Media back in 2017, Brawn, at times, found himself butting heads with a team or two as any changes he and the rest of the sport’s bosses wanted to make had to be signed off by the teams.
He said back in 2020 that it was “frustrating” for F1 bosses and the FIA that they had to get unanimous approval from the teams to make changes. He would rather F1 rely on a majority ruling.
“I think we need the opinion of the competitors – we need to listen and we need to have the majority of competitors in favour of these ideas,” he told Racer at the time.
“And I think if you can’t convince the majority, then you’re failing that. If you get one or maybe two people stopping something which the vast majority want and F1 want and the FIA want, that’s frustrating.”
But with the pandemic changing the way the sport was in, in 2021 it was decided that only a majority was needed, eight of the teams having to agree if the rule change affected the current season and only five for decisions relating to the next year.
Brawn, walking away from Formula 1 after the Abu Dhabi to “watch F1 from my sofa, cheering and cursing as an F1 fan”, has hailed that as one of the sport’s victories.
“The governance system has been improved,” he declared in his final column for the official F1 website.
“We now have much more flexibility and don’t need all the teams to agree for the sport to make changes and go forward. As long as we get eight teams to agree, we can get things done in the short term.
“With five teams and the FIA and F1, we can get things done in the long term. We don’t have the constraint of the old governance system and there are now lots of things we’ve moved in the right direction which has made this sport function so much better than it did before.”
‘You need to give every team an equal opportunity’
The other big win has been the introduction of the budget cap.
A cap of $145 million was introduced last season, that lowered by $5m this year before the teams were later handed an increase due to unprecedented inflation.
The cap was part of a package that also included aerodynamic testing restrictions (ATR) that was aimed at levelling the playing field, giving those with less financial resources a chance to close the gap.
“It was key that we improved the racing in an authentic way,” Brawn said of the cost cap.
“How do you do that? You need to give every team an equal opportunity. Part of that is financial resource. For many years, there were three or four teams on the grid who had significantly more financial resource than the rest.
“That doesn’t create a situation to achieve close margins. The competitors must construct their own cars – that is the DNA of F1. But it is a huge challenge, and in the past, the more money you had, the better car you could build. It would have been an easy route to have standard cars, same engines, spec parts – you get a close competitive field, but then you lose the magic of F1.
“The cost cap has created an environment where you have a limited spend and the smartest people win. The margins from the front to the back are going to be much tighter.
“I think the cost cap is a very significant step for F1. It’s got bugs to iron out but considering the complexity of introducing such a system, it’s fantastic what the team at F1 and the FIA have achieved since it was introduced last year.”
Last season only one team, Red Bull, breached the cap with the Milton Keynes squad overspending by $2.2m. They were fined $7m and also lost 10 percent of 2023’s ATR time.