Mercedes and McLaren at odds amid fears Red Bull will gain another F1 advantage

Mercedes chose not to ally themselves with McLaren against Red Bull amid concerns from Zak Brown over the Formula 1 champions’ relationship with their sister team.

Red Bull plan to work much more closely with the soon-to-be-rebranded AlphaTauri team going forward. The Faenza-based squad has enjoyed little success in recent seasons and the project has been seen as an expensive one by new ownership as a result.

The plan is for the teams to work as closely as F1 regulations allow in the hope that some of the top team’s success will rub off on their sister outfit. But it has led to some concerns being raised about the nature of the relationship.

Most of the noise has been made by McLaren chief executive Brown. Last month, the American wrote an open letter calling for common ownership to be banned in F1.

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“Most other major sports prohibit the ownership of two teams within the same league because of the obvious potential damage that it does to competition,” he wrote. “It’s an unhealthy situation because it impacts decisions made both on and off the track.

“Whether it’s a case of having access to more data, sharing components/personnel, or even having influence over a strategic vote, it’s not in the spirit of the regulations. It’s important to stand up for independence, competition and fairness.

“I’d like to see changes in the regulations to ensure that in future, they stop influence spreading from one team to another through strategic alliances and especially through ownership. Formula 1 should be true to its brand, and every team – except power units – should be totally independent of each other.”

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While some other teams have also questioned the relationship, Brown has had little solid support from McLaren’s rivals on this matter. And Mercedes technical director James Allison refused the chance to join his protests as he put his faith in the rules to prevent any illegal sharing of information or resource.

He said: ” I’m not entirely sure what the nature of the relationships between those two teams is, but I am clear on what the rules are… The rules are very tight about not passing on anything that could be regarded as intellectual property from one team to another. The way that rule is written is very broad and very powerful, and it pretty much makes any communication not permitted.

“If two teams have a strong relationship with each other, it can only really be a strong commercial relationship. It cannot be a strong technical or a strong sporting relationship, because the rules forbid that.”

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