Zak Brown emerges as potential new F1 team opponent as he wards off ‘dreamers’

Henry Valantine
Zak Brown on McLaren pit wall. Australia, Melbourne. March 2023

Zak Brown on the pit wall. Australia, Melbourne. March 2023

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has said he would “love to see more cars on the grid” in Formula 1, but warned that there are “a lot of dreamers” who perhaps underestimate what it takes to run a team at the top level.

The ‘Expressions of Interest’ process announced by FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem in January has now moved into the formal application stage for prospective new Formula 1 teams, with several parties having now declared interest in putting themselves onto the grid in future.

Michael Andretti has been the most vocal over a period of time in bringing the Andretti Global brand to Formula 1 alongside his other motorsport efforts, but more organisations are known to have submitted applications to the FIA over joining the series.

Most recently, Asian-based outfit LKY SUNZ told of their intentions to enter the sport, which is spearheaded by Benjamin Durand – formerly team principal for Panthera Team Asia, another prospective candidate.

But when it comes to the candidates being assessed, the McLaren boss believes there has only been one “credible, sustainable” bid put together in the past decade, and there is a lot to live up to in order to securer a place in Formula 1.

“As long as they are additive to our sport, I’d love to see more cars on the grid,” Brown said to reporters in Miami.

“I think it’s exciting. I remember when I started following Formula 1, you had pre-qualifying, I think there were 30-31 cars trying to show up to make the show. recommends

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“So I think an increase in the grid of the right teams that bring the right resources and are additive to what we’re all trying to do and help grow the sport then I’m all for it.

“What we can’t have is… Really the only credible, sustainable team that I’ve seen in the last decade is Guenther’s [Haas].

“And so what we do need to make sure is if someone enters that they really have the commitment and can do what it takes.

“Because in my experience, I think in a variety of motor sports, you do see a lot of dreamers and what we don’t need with the health of the sport is a team coming in underestimating what it’s going to take and two years later, they’re gone.

“So hats off to Haas for the commitment they’ve made and continue to make to the sport, so we need more teams like that.”

Zak Brown falls into one of two camps on prospective F1 teams

The current team principals seem to have split themselves into two groups on this issue, one being that the grid is fine as it is with 10 teams and any more constructors would devalue the product on show, and the other being where Brown appears to sit – being open to the idea of more teams, but only on the proviso that they add more value to the grid.

What both groups have in common, then, is that nobody simply wants to add more teams to Formula 1 for the sake of it as it stands.

Right now, the sport is in rude health financially, enjoying a popularity boom globally like it has never seen before and the cost cap is ensuring, crucially, that more teams are becoming more profitable than ever.

This combination is clearly an intoxicating mix for those currently on the grid and it is an understandably enticing prospect for those looking to join the Formula 1 circus, which will no doubt form a part of the reason why they want to get involved in the sport.

There will doubtless be plenty of scrutiny placed on the FIA once the outcomes of the applications are revealed, with initial results due around July, with the strength of the bids involved set to be looked at closely.