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.”

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”