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McLaren boss Zak Brown says Belgian GP showed ‘flaws’ in F1 governance

McLaren boss Zak Brown says Belgian GP showed 'flaws' in F1 governance

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McLaren boss Zak Brown said the Belgian Grand Prix debacle highlighted the flaws of Formula One’s current system of governance, which in his opinion left the sport unable to avoid the negative fallout of Sunday’s event.

The event, branded a “farce” by reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, saw just three laps completed behind the Safety Car due to heavy rain that was deemed unsafe to race in. Despite no racing laps being completed, half points were handed out to the top 10 finishers.

On Sunday evening, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said F1 needed to “move on” from the Spa debacle, but Brown disagreed, saying the sport needs action to ensure a repeat is impossible.

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“I respectfully totally disagree,” Brown told ESPN, in reference to Wolff’s comment.

“I think there’s a tremendous amount of learning to come out of that weekend, in how to handle the wet, how to handle the rules and the points, how do you handle the fans.

“I’m very happy that the leader of our sport, Stefano [Domenicali], shares those same views that that was an unacceptable result and has called all the team bosses in together in Holland to discuss it, to address it, to learn from it, to fix it.

“I think the biggest mistake we could make would be not learning from the mistakes we made last weekend.”

-Vettel says handing out points for Belgian GP ‘a joke’

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The weather at the Belgian Grand Prix placed F1 in a difficult situation, with a postponement to Monday or later impossible due to both the sport’s rigid schedule and the fact F1 did not have the authority to do this without FIA approval. However, FIA race director Michael Masi, who ultimately decided conditions were unsafe to race in, did not personally have authority to postpone the race beyond Sunday evening either.

Brown, who has previously advocated taking F1’s 10 teams out of the rule-making process, said Spa was an example of F1 needing one person with ultimate authority to step in and make a decision — in this case, in his opinion, F1 boss Domenicali.

Sunday’s race reminded Brown of the infamous 2005 U.S. Grand Prix, where only six cars took part due to a dispute between F1, the teams and the FIA over Michelin tyre concerns at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I think taking a step back and reviewing how the weekend played out is exactly what the sport needs to do,” Brown said. “[The situation showed] an overarching point about governance, how the sport operates, and highlights some of its flaws.

“What it’s highlighted to me is the governance and the way the sport functions when you get into a spot like that.

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“It’s the same thing, this is where the comparison to the [2005] U.S. Grand Prix is. There you had a situation there where the FIA, Formula One and the teams had different views and because of the governance of the sport the end result was they kinda put on a race, but lost the North American fan base for 10 years.

“So while the teams have the ability to be extremely short-sighted, and this is bigger than the Belgian Grand Prix in general, I think more of the governance and control of the sport needs to sit with Stefano because the teams unfortunately — not all of them, but too many of them — only think through in the moment what’s best for them and don’t think through the consequences of a U.S. Grand Prix, where everybody lost.

“That’s where there’s some similarities.”

He added: “All other sporting events would be rescheduled … [In F1] you can’t just run it on Monday, you know, where are the marshals? And we’re flying stuff around for other races.

“That’s where I think we need to learn… had we come into the grand prix and future grands prix with ‘in the event this happens, we would do this, do that’, but by the time we realised this race wasn’t going to happen at 6 o’clock on Sunday, it’s too late to react.”

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The F1 season continues with the Dutch Grand Prix on Sunday, live on ESPN at 8:55 a.m. ET.

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