Zak Brown, who is currently the Executive Director of McLaren Technology Group and owner of United Autosports, has responded to Scuderia Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene following criticisms he made against McLaren’s decision to block a plan to keep Formula 1’s contentious “shark fins”.
The fins made a return to Formula One car design for the 2017 season and as well as providing aerodynamic aid, also provided teams with additional surface area for sponsorship and enlarged race numbers, making it easier for fans to identify individual drivers. As a result, a plan had been discussed between teams in order to keep them for the next F1 championship and beyond but it was vetoed by McLaren who believe the fins block the valuable sponsorship real estate of the rear wings.
Maurizio Arrivabene questioned Zak Brown’s logic, suggesting it was hypocritical for McLaren to cite sponsorship space as a reason for removing the fins when they in fact offer an even greater area for sponsors’ logos: “What is quite funny is that Zak said that the fin was interfering with the rear wing, and in the meantime he said he would like to have more commercial space.” – Scuderia Ferrari’s team principal said, as reported by the Italian media – “So somehow he is removing the fin and doesn’t have any more that commercial space, and on top he needs to find space for the number, so I think there is something wrong here.”
Zak Brown has now continued the discussion, stating that the removal of the shark fins was essential for his team and its sponsors: “The fin blocks the rear wing because it is too tall. What we proposed was an engine fin that started to come down and never broke the plane of the lowest part of the rear wing. If you look now on television, the second most exposed part of the racing car was the rear wing. Now, no matter what angle you are at, because of the height of the [shark] fin, and how close it comes, you never get clear visibility. So all we wanted to do was bring it down. You could still have the number but you open up the rear wing because the rear wing is more valuable than the shark fin. So I have absolutely done it for commercial reasons. But we go into the Strategy Group meetings and we need to start thinking more commercially about the decisions we make. I can tell you that from sitting in them, they are 90% technical and we don’t think through that if we do something, what are the commercial implications on the engine fins, for example?” – McLaren’s Executive Director explained.