MCLAREN F1 boss Zak Brown enjoyed his first weekend trackside as a Supercars team co-owner at Albert Park.
And he’s formed a few strong opinions about the sport’s future.
Brown has a wealth of experience of motorsport across the world from his decades as a marketing guru, a team owner, a racer and a fan.
Here are, in Brown’s words, his “two cents” on the world of Supercars.
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ON NON-V8 ENGINES …
“Technically I think it would be a mistake to go to this talked about V6 engine,” Brown said.
“I think if you look at yesterday’s race, that was perfect, and so why change to a technology that’s going to cost more money?
“As soon as you have more money being spent that’s going to broaden the gap between the haves and the have-nots, so I think you want some stability.
“Maybe some hybrid in the future would be a good technical relevance.”
Brown believes the sport can attract new manufacturers even if it sticks with a V8-only engine formula.
“It’s a sport and entertainment, and somewhere where Formula 1 has gone wrong and needs to fix itself,” Brown said.
“I have this debate in Formula 1 all the time: it’s less about what’s under the bonnet — as in the car on the street.
“It’s about training the engineers, it’s about racing, it’s about being competitive, it’s about understanding technology and how to apply them to a road car, as opposed to it being ‘we’re going to take that engine out of that car and we’re going to drop it into another.’”
ON FACTORY-BACKED TEAMS …
Brown cited Triple Eight’s exclusive agreement to develop and supply components of the new Holden ZB Commodore to every other GM-aligned team in the paddock as an example of a situation Supercars should try to avoid.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” he said.
“I think it gives Triple Eight an unfair advantage because they ultimately get to develop the parts, see the parts, test the parts, learn the information.
“Then they actually learn from the teams because when we get the parts and have issues we need to go and share with them what our challenges are — but that information doesn’t come back our way.
“So I think when manufacturers come into the sport, if they’re just with a team that’s fine, but if they’re then going to supply other teams in the racing series I don’t think you should do that through a factory team.
“I see that in all different forms of motorsport, so I think they need to fix that because I don’t think that’s right.”
ON OVERSEAS RACING …
Brown supports Supercars’ push to expand its calendar into Asia, but doesn’t believe a return to more far flung locations is a sensible move.
“I know on the calendar they’ve historically gone outside of Asia Pac a few times,” he said.
“I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. I think stay in Asia Pac, make sure you’re strong at home. It’s great all the local newspapers this morning covered it.
“If we go to Singapore, if we go to Vietnam, if we go to China with Formula 1, I think that’s great, but I think going to Texas like it’s done in the past, I think that’s too far away for the fans to follow it from a timezone standpoint.
“I think let’s continue to be strong in Australia and grow a little further out in Asia Pac, let’s stay in that region.”
ON THE SPORT’S NEW CEO …
Sean Seamer is now two events into his new role as the boss of Supercars, although he was present at last year’s Newcastle 500, this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour and other Supercars events in the lead-up to the Adelaide 500 in order to hit the ground running.
Brown had his first opportunity to chat with the former advertising executive at Albert Park.
“I met with Sean, I think he’s going to be a really good CEO for Supercars,” he said.
“I like his background, I know his former boss at Mediacom very well, and (he) rates him very highly.
“I think if I look at fan engagement it’s excellent. I think given Sean’s media background what he needs to do, which I think he will do, is make sure that — and Formula 1 teams are doing this as well — is migrate to the type of media that the younger fan wants and the way they like to view the sport.
“I think Sean will be excellent at that. I’m learning quickly now.”