In the wake of the controversial implementation of F1’s safety car restart rules at last year’s F1 season finale, motor racing’s governing body has begun a detailed investigation.
But amid some concerns that the FIA could try to brush under the carpet any mistakes that were made, Brown believes that it is important for the sport’s credibility that fans are given a proper answer about what really happened and why some decisions were made.
For while he thinks that F1 will quickly move on from the Abu Dhabi controversy once the new 2022 season begins in Bahrain, he equally feels there is an onus on the FIA to treat the Abu Dhabi investigation with the seriousness it deserves.
Asked by Motorsport.com about potential damage that’s been done to F1’s image by the Abu Dhabi fall out, Brown said: “I think with all controversies in sport, in time, as soon as the next season starts, the wounds start to heal.
“But I do think the FIA needs to come out with a, here’s what happened, here’s how and why we think it happened. Here’s what was right, here’s what was wrong, and whatever they’re going to come out with in the report, and then show that they’ve taken action to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The FIA has blamed the scale of the Abu Dhabi controversy on fans and the media ‘misunderstanding’ the situation, but it is clear a vast number of the sport’s followers remain unhappy about the manner in which the safety car rules were implemented by F1 race director Michael Masi.
While some have gone as far as suggesting that there was a conspiracy behind Masi’s decisions to help spice up the championship battle, Brown is not convinced that there was anything specifically nefarious.
Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
“I don’t think this was a malicious decision,” he said. “So for those that might have a view that the sport’s corrupt, etc. I don’t agree with that.
“Do I think potentially a different decision could have been made? Yes, probably. But I want to wait to see what the FIA comes out with.
“I think we’ve all seen in sport before, referees make decisions that the people disagree with. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong. It gets pretty exciting. But then the [new] season starts and it soon becomes a thing that, while you never forget about, it was a thing of the past.”
Brown also believes that the FIA needs to look at its wider running of F1 too, because he thinks that changes need to be made on a range of issues – and not just the safety car rules.
“I’m assuming they’re going to come to a conclusion that figures out a way of how to better make decisions moving forward,” he added. “And that’s what I’m most concerned about, because the outcome of Abu Dhabi didn’t impact us. I’m more concerned with just moving forward.
“[Look at] driver penalties. Lando [Norris] was an incident away from losing his license [last year], which was crazy, because I can’t think of any time Lando drove dangerously.
“We wrote to the FIA and F1 with seven races to go and said Lando is one pushing Perez off a track and not touching them away from losing his license. To me, points on your licence should be about dangerous driving, not racing incidents. So I’m more interested in all that getting cleaned up because we were racing and worried about Lando.
“While everyone I understand is laser focused on Abu Dhabi, I’m looking at the last two years and going we’ve got to kind of clean all this up.”