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McLaren boss Zak Brown calls for an end to teams ‘influencing’ F1 race officials

The Independent logo The Independent 13/01/2022 Sports Staff
Toto Wolff was regularly heard talking to officials through the season  - Getty Images © Getty Images

Toto Wolff was regularly heard talking to officials through the season

- Getty Images

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has called for an end to team principals influencing the Formula 1 race director during grands prix.

The 2021 season ended in controversy in Abu Dhabi as Lewis Hamilton’s final-race lead was cut down by safety car regulations allowing Max Verstappen the chance to overtake on the last lap, an opportunity he took to become world champion for the first time.

The race was also contentious for highlighting the regular communication between team principals, like Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, with race director Michael Masi, as they attempted to sway his crucial in-race decisions in their favour.

The race was viewed by millions around the world, many of whom were only passing F1 fans and who were left questioning the fairness and integrity of the sport, and Brown says there needs to be “less influence” from the teams.

“I think everyone was pretty confused,” Brown told RACER, referring to the events of Abu Dhabi. “There were enough people disgruntled throughout the year that we need to look at the rules. And keep in mind that it’s the teams who make most of these rules. So as you’ve heard me bang on about, I’d continue to like to see less influence from the teams, because we’re the ones who developed half of these rules.”

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Brown called for more consistency going forwards into the 2022 season and beyond.

“Obviously there were winners and losers in it. It’s tough being a referee in any sport because half of the fans are going to agree with your call, half of them aren’t. It seemed to deviate from what’s happened in the past. I think if you look to Baku they red-flagged it right away. It didn’t really change the outcome for us but I think in the off-season we need to review a lot of our regulations.

“If I pull back, I think there’s too much inconsistency in regulations and how they’re applied and when they’re applied, driver penalties… You look at Lando [Norris] who doesn’t touch [Sergio] in Austria, he tries him round the outside and he gets a five-second penalty and two penalty points.

“Then you have Max [Verstappen] and Lewis [Hamilton] who both go off the track [in Brazil] and ‘Let them race’. I think we all have those stories, and it’s difficult when it’s subjective, but I think we need to take a step back.”

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