McLaren F1 Racing team principal Zak Brown has been at the centre of a number of controversies this season including luring Alpine’s driver away from his French F1 team. Some believe his treatment of Daniel Ricciardo was inappropriate when Brown revealed to the media back in June there were “mechanisms” for the team to end their contract with the Austrian F1 driver. McLaren only parted company formally several weeks later.
Brown believes F1 would benefit from recruiting an American driver into the sport, but the FIA is currently blocking Red Bull Racing efforts to sign Californian Colton Herta from IndyCar.
Herta does not have enough points for his super license under the current mechanism devised by the FIA to prevent a 17 year old with just one season of junior single seater racing joining F1.
That 17 old did turn out to be a world champion in the form of Max Verstappen.
F1 growth exploding
Since F1 was bought by Liberty Media the sport has flourished with the largest ever calendar of 24 race weekends announced for 2023 earlier this week.
There will be 3 United States races in 2023 together with another two North American events in Canada and Mexico. It’s less than 20 years ago when Formula One was humiliated at the Indianapolis circuit as only 3 teams and six cars started the event due to arguments over tyres.
Following the completion of the contract with the Indy500 speedway, F1 had no races in the US until COTA was built in Austin Texas.
Ecclestone mooted many ideas over the years about a race in New York, returning to Long Beach together with other ideas about how to crack the USA.
Yet it has been Liberty media’s promotion of the sport and an annual Netflix series about F1 that has sparked a huge interest in what is an important market for F1’s manufacturers.
The Andretti Racing Group have applied to Formula One to enter an 11th team, yet to date the existing teams believe this will merely dilute their individual share of the prize money, which Zak Brown thinks “short sighted”.
USA driver not commercial necessity
Whilst not a commercial necessity for the sport Brown argues an American driver and the Andretti name would benefit all the F1 stakeholders.
“I think it would be great for both of them to happen, it would further enhance Formula 1 here [USA],” Brown says.
“But we don’t have either today and look how popular Formula 1 is now in America.
“So I’d love to see it happen, but I don’t think it has to happen. Because Formula 1 is hot today without it.”
F1 bosses short sighted
Zak is one of the few supporters in the paddock of the Andretti entrance application and believes F1 team bosses are only looking at “what’s only in their best interest in the short term.”
“We think a little bit differently,” added the American. “I think someone like Andretti could help make the sport grow.
“What we might lose out in the short term by sharing prize money will come back to us with more TV ratings, more sponsorship out of North America, etc.
“It’s a handful of teams that are trying to protect their own income and don’t see the bigger picture.”
Andretti calls F1 “snobbish” and a “European Club”
Michael Andretti was most critical of F1’s refusal to accept his teams application, calling out “snobbish attitudes” in what he described to GQ magazine as a “European Club”
In response, Stefano Dominicali the CEO of Formula One recently explained his difficulty.
“I do believe there are more teams that will give more value to the championship, but there is a protocol that has to be fulfilled and everyone – Andretti included – is following that.”
Yet Dominicali does not buy that more US involvement in F1 will make a substantially larger cake to go around.
“Today, I don’t see honestly the need of that increase to have a big value for the sport of Formula 1.
“I don’t see a weakness in the number of teams in Formula 1.”
Increasing the number of teams would increase the number of race seats which would allow more routes for more F1 novices into the sport. Something fans regularly debate.
READ MORE: Mercedes ‘not competitive’ in 2023
Who is the best at translating each other's native language? 💬
Exchanging Dutch and Spanish phrases with Max and Checo 🍿
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) September 23, 2022