Formula 1 sporting managing director Ross Brawn feels the sport’s bosses have a “duty” to fix the unbalanced performance of teams on the grid without acting artificially.
The 2017 season came to a close in Abu Dhabi last weekend with Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull having shared all 20 race wins, marking the fourth straight year no other team has won a grand prix.
The performance gap between the three leading teams and the rest of the field has led to calls for greater balance throughout the grid in a bid to create tighter, better racing that is more attractive to fans.
Writing in a post-race newsletter in Abu Dhabi, Brawn stressed the need for F1’s bosses to review and fix the gap between the leading teams and the remainder of the field.
“The Abu Dhabi race confirmed in no uncertain terms the huge gap between the top three teams and the rest of the grid,” Brawn said.
“After 10 laps,seventh-placed Nico Hulkenberg was already 19.170 seconds off the leader, which grew to 85s by the end of the race – and here we’re talking about an exceptional driver and a factory team representing one of four major automotive manufacturers in Formula 1.
“I think we have a duty to look at ways of making the championship more balanced, without resorting to artificial or improvised means.
“That’s why, for several months, working first and foremost with the FIA and the teams, we have been looking at ideas to make the sport we all love, more interesting.
“That’s what the fans want, as has been seen from the research we have carried out over the past few months and let’s not forget that they are the sport’s most important asset.”
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.