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F1 urged to rethink rulemaking after 'pantomime' in Abu Dhabi

Zak Brown has called for change in F1 after the controversial conclusion to the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi, likening events to a "pantomime audition".

McLaren boss Zak Brown has weighed in with his thoughts on the 2021 F1 season finale, believing that the controversy was a "symptom" of "systemic issues" around how the sport makes and governs the regulations. F1's governing body, the FIA, are currently investigating the way in which the campaign ended in Abu Dhabi, where Max Verstappen overtook Lewis Hamilton on the final lap after a contentious Safety Car period. As part of a column on the McLaren website, which addressed several topics , Brown called for a rethink across the board, urging F1 and FIA chiefs to get on top of matters ahead of the 2022 season.

Brown sees "systemic issues" with F1's rulemaking

Brown wrote: "The election of Mohammed Ben Sulayem last December as the new President of the FIA provides the opportunity for collective reform of the way Formula 1 operates. "It is obvious to focus on the events of Abu Dhabi at the end of last season, which are the subject of an FIA investigation, but this was a symptom rather than cause in my view. "There have been systemic issues around alignment and clarity on who makes the rules - the FIA or the teams - that have manifested themselves in the past couple of years, at times in a high-profile way. "The signs of organisational difficulties could be seen at the [cancelled] 2020 Australian Grand Prix and at last year's [rain-shortened] Belgian Grand Prix, both hallmarked by a seeming lack of preparation for the events unfolding and temporary inertia on the solutions. "Greater clarity on the roles of the FIA and F1 and the need for increased leadership of the sport will undoubtedly be on the agenda for Mohammed Ben Sulayem and [F1 boss] Stefano Domenicali and their respective teams."

Abu Dhabi F1 finale compared to a "pantomime audition"

While Brown praised the "mainly autocratic style" in recent years that "pointed the sport in the right direction", he feels F1 needs to return to a "stronger, more directive leadership and governance" going forward. "It is clear that some of the rules and their governance are not acceptable as things stand," Brown continued. "No one is happy with the inconsistency in the policing of the regulations, but which has been habitually exploited by teams for competitive advantage. "I have said before that the teams have too much power and it needs to be reduced. We have a significant role in the drafting of the regulations and governance of Formula 1 and that influence is not always driven by what is best overall for the sport. "Yes, teams should be consulted, and their informed perspectives considered, particularly on long-term strategic issues. But at times it has seemed the sport is governed by certain teams. "Let us not forget that we, the teams, have contributed to the inconsistencies in the policing of the regulations as much as anyone." Brown emphasised: "It is the teams who applied the pressure to avoid finishing races under a Safety Car at all costs. It is the teams who voted for many of the regulations they have complained about. "It is the teams who have been using the broadcasting of radio messages to the Race Director to try to influence penalties and race outcomes, to the point where an over-excited Team Principal plays to the gallery and pressurises race officials. "This has not been edifying for F1. At times it's felt like a pantomime audition rather than the pinnacle of a global sport."

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