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Brown wants greater commercial thought in F1’s technical rules

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McLaren executive director Zak Brown believes there needs to be greater commercial thought when it comes to forming Formula 1’s technical rules amid ongoing debates about the ‘shark fin’ currently on cars.

A loophole in the revised technical regulations for 2017 saw the shark fin bodywork return to the engine covers on cars, resulting in mixed reactions up and down the F1 paddock.

Plans were in place to retain the shark fin for next season, only for McLaren to veto the decision, as confirmed by Red Bull team boss in Friday’s FIA press conference in Abu Dhabi.

“A month of so ago we had a meeting and I thought we all agreed that we were going to leave the fin as it was and stick the number there – and then in usual fashion we left the meeting and things changed and Zak decided he couldn’t see his rear wing,” Horner said.

“He’s obviously signed a major sponsor for next year and he’s trying to get as much coverage as he can, so McLaren presented another variant.

“The problem is that the aerodynamicists then looked at it and said ‘well, that screws up the rear wing, so we don’t want that’. So I’m not quite sure, as we sit here, what we got.

“I think it goes back to what’s in the regulation, which is no fin and so we have to just work out where to stick the number.

“Maybe we’ll have another chat and see if we can persuade Zak this weekend to put the fin back.”

Brown responded in the second half of the press conference by saying F1 needed to be more considerate of commercial needs when it came to deciding on its technical regulations.

“The rear wing is the very valuable spot on the racecar that, with the current engine fin, blocks the rear wing,” Brown explained.

“I’ve only been in the strategy group meetings for a year now, but we don’t think enough commercially about some of the technical regulations that we discuss.

“If you look at today’s racecar, front wings are no longer commercially viable. We’ve got bargeboards and aerodynamic devices blocking the chassis side and now we’ve got this big engine fin that blocks the rear wing.

“So that was really more of a case of starting to free up some commercial locations on the racecar.”

Brown has been tasked with finding new sponsors for the struggling McLaren team, and confirmed that two deals are set to be announced in the near future.

“It’s not the off-season yet but we’ve had a good Q4. We have signed two sponsors that we haven’t announced yet,” Brown confirmed.

“One is US-based so I think people can expect to see more great brands on the McLaren racecar next year.”

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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