Thought leadership series
Topic

Thought leadership series

F1 is ready to start but we’re bound to hit a glitch – Brown

McLaren team principal Zak Brown believes that a championship of 14 or 15 races at 10 venues is realistic to start the 2020 Formula 1 season.

F1 is ready to start but we’re bound to hit a glitch – Brown

But he argues that the sport needs to do a better job of planning contingencies, like a further outbreak of coronavirus among team members, than it did at the aborted Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Speaking exclusively to Motorsport.com for the #thinkingforward series of interviews with the sport’s leaders, Brown said that starting the series in early July with two races in Austria and two at Silverstone, in controlled environments, will help to build confidence and momentum to carry on with a meaningful calendar of races through to mid-December.

“Eight (grands prix) is enough (to qualify as a world championship) and I'm optimistic we'll get in more than eight,” he said. “Formula 1 is looking at a schedule of 16 to 18, kind of 15 circuits, 18 races. I'm a little bit more pessimistic than that, I would place my bet on 14-15 races at 10 circuits.

“I think we will do a couple races in Austria, a couple races at Silverstone. If we start running into issues with travelling, then I think you could see doubling up some other races. I don't think that's the intention, but I'm going to assume that we're going to hit a glitch, somewhere along the way.

“Even though Austria is ready and maybe Silverstone is ready behind closed doors, we don't know if the second wave will come. If we want to go to Asia, or America; I think it's going to be when we get on planes and have to fly overseas where I think the risk will start to potentially get greater.

"There's a conversation about more races in Europe. The schedule was only ever 16 races for a long time. So, to me, 14-15 races, is going to be a very complete championship.”

Read Also:

Brown believes that the isolated circumstances of the Red Bull Ring in Austria make it the ideal place to resume racing, as it has an Air Force base next to the circuit where charter planes can land and a controlled, low population environment nearby.

Austria has already relaxed many aspects of its lockdown with shops opening again in the country last week.

“I could see how these first four races can go off in a very tight manner,” he said. “And then if we can get those off successfully I think that will build some momentum and confidence, So I'm quite optimistic that's a good plan sitting here today.”

 

Brown is arguably the team boss who has had the most crisis management to deal with, as McLaren triggered the cancellation of the opening round in Melbourne after a team member tested positive for COVID-19.

He admits he has learned a lot from it; having the right team, clear decision making and clear communication being the most important elements. However, the chaotic scenes on the Thursday and Friday showed that the sport hadn’t fully thought through the possible scenarios.

“People are scared and people are looking for leadership,” he said. “They want to know, ‘What should I be doing?’  I think our team's done a really good job with that. So when we decided to withdraw from Australia, we'd made that decision coming into the weekend, so it wasn't a scenario [that we weren't prepared for]. Planning, trying to anticipate: if something happens, what are you going to do? Not have something happen, then ‘What should we do?’

“I think if you look at how Australia, the cancellation of the race, went down. Overall, it seemed like the key stakeholders weren’t very aligned around the plan going into it, it was kind of ‘Oh McLaren's withdrawn, what do we do?’  Where maybe the teams and everyone should have been more prepared for if a team withdraws, what do we do, and go into motion instead. The teams spent Thursday night until three o'clock in the morning being divided on what they should do. That's what happens if you come into something not well prepared with all the key stakeholders around you.”

Read Also:

Despite that, Brown believes that the way that the FIA and Liberty Media are managing the crisis overall means that F1 should emerge strongly for the future. Liberty has raised a $1.4 billion ‘rainy day’ fund in case of a prolonged period without racing or other economic risks and has provided support to teams.

“They continue to pay us. They've assisted some teams, I'm not exactly sure which teams, but I think that's good because all the teams might need eventually some help. I think they're doing everything they can to get us back to going racing, which protects us economically.

“I'm very impressed with Jean (Todt, FIA president). They're making good decisions, good recommendations and Jean, in particular, is pushing very hard on the budget cap. It's needed, and it was needed before this.

“As long as we all handle it (the crisis) well and lean into the problem and not run from the problem, then I think there's opportunity. I think it's danger if we put our head in the sand, if we just kind of assume everything will sort itself out. That's dangerous.”

shares
comments
F1 budget cap discussions "at the very final stages"

Previous article

F1 budget cap discussions "at the very final stages"

Next article

Mexico GP venue to become temporary hospital

Mexico GP venue to become temporary hospital
Load comments
Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track' Prime

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track'

Mercedes ended Friday practice at the Hungaroring with a clear gap to Red Bull thanks to Valtteri Bottas’s pace in topping FP2. But there are other reasons why the Black Arrows squad feels satisfied with its progress so far at a track many Formula 1 observers reckon favours Red Bull overall...

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks Prime

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks

OPINION: Red Bull was justified to be upset that Lewis Hamilton survived his British GP clash with Max Verstappen and went on to win. But its attempts to lobby the FIA to reconsider the severity of Hamilton's in-race penalty were always likely to backfire, and have only succeeded in creating a PR disaster that will distract from its on-track efforts

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Prime

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed.

Formula 1
Jul 29, 2021
How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Prime

How Lotus uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021
The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address Prime

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address

OPINION: Changes to the layout of Abu Dhabi’s circuit aim to reverse the trend of insipid Formula 1 races there - the promoter has even described one of the new corners as “iconic”. And that, argues STUART CODLING, is one of this venue’s abiding failings

Formula 1
Jul 26, 2021
How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't Prime

How Ferrari offered Callum Ilott what Red Bull couldn't

Last year's Formula 2 runner-up Callum Ilott could be on his way to becoming the first Briton to contest a grand prix in an Alfa Romeo since Reg Parnell in 1950. But, says Oleg Karpov, the Ferrari Driver Academy protege is having to temper his ambition at the moment – outwardly at least…

Formula 1
Jul 25, 2021
The signs that point to F1's rude health Prime

The signs that point to F1's rude health

OPINION: Formula 1's calendar might still be facing disruption as the pandemic affects travel but, says Mark Gallagher, the business itself is fundamentally strong thanks to the epic rivalry taking place on track and the consistent arrival of new sponsors.

Formula 1
Jul 24, 2021
The unexpected benefit of F1's sprint race repeat Prime

The unexpected benefit of F1's sprint race repeat

OPINION: Formula 1's sprint race trial at Silverstone drew mixed feedback on Saturday, but there remained the true test of how it would impact Sunday's Grand Prix. While fans were busy marvelling at Fernando Alonso's progress, a key lesson was being learned that would directly contribute to the dramatic lap-one clash at Copse the following day

Formula 1
Jul 22, 2021