McLaren CEO Zak Brown has urged the FIA and Formula 1 chiefs to make it a priority to address “serious” concerns about the fairness of Red Bull and AlphaTauri’s closer ties.

As part of a push to improve the fortunes of the soon-to-be-renamed AlphaTauri squad, owner Red Bull has revamped its leadership and is making infrastructure changes.

Part of that will involve AlphaTauri taking more customer parts from Red Bull, and a ramping up of its presence on its parent team’s Milton Keynes campus.

Brown has expressed worries before about the extent of the partnership, and he thinks it is a matter that requires utmost attention from series bosses.

“The thing I would like to see us as a sport focus is where we sit on the regulation side [with] the A/B team co-ownership,” said Brown, speaking at the launch of his squad’s 2024 livery.

“I believe it’s a serious issue for the fairness of the sport, for the fans. That’s why it’s pretty much not allowed in any other form of major sport.  

“I’d like to see us, as an industry, focus on that before it gets to a level of being where Formula 1 once was, which is very out of balance because people are playing by the rules, but a different set of rules.”

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Brown said that his worries about the situation had increased amid rumours that the entire AlphaTauri operation could move away from its current Italian base to be closer to Red Bull.

“AlphaTauri is, from what I understand, moving to the UK, which I think will benefit both teams,” he added.

“So this A/B team and co-ownership, which is a whole other level of A/B team, is a big concern to ours for the health of the sport, and the fairness of the sport.

“When these [team co-operation rules] were put in place, the sport was in a different place. We had a huge gap between people like ourselves, who had huge budgets, and smaller teams. Now everybody's pretty much at the cap, if not at the cap.

“So I think everyone's playing with the same size of bat, to use a baseball term, and therefore that's not necessary.

“But it might give someone an unfair advantage, and I think that's something we need to tackle with the sport quickly.”

FIA and F1 relations 

Brown’s call for action comes against the backdrop of strained relations between the FIA on one side and the teams on the other in the wake of some controversial actions of the governing body’s president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

This included the FIA’s decision before Christmas to go public with a probe into a potential conflict of interest involving Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and wife Susie, before abandoning it on the grounds of no evidence 48 hours later.

That action has opened the door for potential legal action from the Wolffs, who were hugely critical about the reputational damage they suffered from the FIA’s actions. 

Brown said he hoped that the FIA and the F1 could work together better in the future.

“As far as the FIA and Formula 1 [leadership is concerned], we just would like to see that relationship progress in a more unified way,” he said.

“I think they both want to do what’s best for the sport, which is a great place to be centred.”

Asked about any fallout from the Wolff incident, Brown said: “We’ve not heard anything since.

“We had never, ever officially or unofficially – because I see some people have chosen their words carefully – we never spoke with anyone at all about the Toto/Susie situation.

“We’re a big supporter of the F1 Academy and we’re excited to be part of it. I’ve known Susie a long time, she’s very high integrity. So, we have no concerns.”

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