During Saturday’s media session, the American businessman was asked about Pirelli’s tyre failures during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which caused Lance Stroll and Max Verstappen to retire from the race due to deflations on their left-rear tyres.
Brown was definitely not satisfied with the response they got from Pirelli and the FIA.
“I think we need total transparency from Pirelli and the FIA, especially when it comes to safety.
“It is essential for us to understand exactly what happened to make sure, from a safety point of view, that it won’t happen again”, Brown commented.
Both crashes occurred at high speed, over the main straight of the circuit, while the drivers were around 30 laps into their respective stints on Pirelli’s C3 compound. The number of laps was perfectly aligned and respectful of F1’s official tyre supplier indications for perfect tyre performance.
Over the last week, Pirelli has released its findings from the investigation carried out. The tyre supplier claimed that, “no production or quality defect was found” and that in each case, the failure was down to a “circumferential break on the inner sidewall”, related to the running conditions of the tyre.
Despite Pirelli’s statement, McLaren CEO believes that when safety is at stake, such broad and undetailed explanations are not enough.
“If you think of the flexi-wings, they are something different. They are part of on-track competition, I think they should’ve been handled quicker but that’s not the question. In this case, the tyres are about safety and we need more transparency,” Brown commented.
The American CEO claimed that, beyond saying that tyre pressures were lower than expected, Pirelli didn’t really disclose any additional data.
“I don’t think they explained in detail what happened. We were all left ‘guessing’ what has happened. We don’t know exactly what happened, we kind of have a general idea”
“We don’t know in a very black and white manner what really happened”, indeed, as Brown highlighted, some of the teams’ statements seem to somewhat contradict what Pirelli claimed.
“We have Pirelli and two teams statements that don’t seem to be aligned”, McLaren Racing CEO concluded.
While tyres blowouts have caught up everyone’s attention in Baku and have been at the center of the discussion for the last week; the issue at stake is even bigger – because there have been tyre failures for over ten years now. For Brown, this is not because a lack of seriousness in Pirelli or the FIA.
“I think Pirelli does a very good job and they do take the issue very seriously. But, of course when it comes to tyres, having a failure is much more visible, compared to an engine or a gearbox failure”
“However, what we do need in the sport in general, and this goes beyond the tyres issue, is greater transparency.
“For example, if you think of Liberty Media, they have tried to increase transparency in every aspect of the sport. From economic standpoint to the fans. There are things like the Ferrari’s engine secret deal that in today’s world are not acceptable, everyone demands transparency,” continued Zak Brown.
“If you think of the airline industry, whenever they have an issue, they must disclose everything. It is a matter of transparency and safety, first and foremost,
“Then, if the teams are doing something to their cars or running tyres not following the guidelines, that’s a separate sporting issue…but, safety must always come first”, he concluded.
Lastly, Brown was asked about his drivers and he couldn’t be more content.
“Lando is matured really well. Already as a rookie, he was able to handle races very maturely. If you compare him to other rookies, he hasn’t had incidents or off-roads”, Brown said.
Lando is “so mature” that the team has had to tell him that “it’s okay if he goes off every once in a while”, to encourage him to be more risk-taker.
“What we’ve seen is that he’s able to keep the car on the track but he still managed to improve drastically.
“He continues to improve. His mistakes now are mostly related to track limits, as it happened in Italy, but this is mostly because of driving aggressiveness,” the CEO continued,
“[So], we’re extremely happy with Lando, he’s performing at very high levels”
While Lando is doing excellently, being the only driver to score points in every race this season; the same cannot be said for the new team recruit, Daniel Ricciardo, who has been struggling to find pace and get the car to perform near to his younger teammate. Zak Brown, however, has nothing but words of praise for him.
“As per Daniel, I think every time you change team, you need a bit of time to get used to a different car and dynamics.
“This year, we had half the time for testing, moreover we changed PU supplier, so in testing we were still trying to understand the power unit.
“What we’re seeing is that Daniel is getting quicker every weekend, his work ethic is incredible, his attitude is great so I’m extremely confident his performances will improve shortly as he gets more confident with the car”, Brown concluded.