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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.”

Could Scott Dixon someday break Foyt, Andretti wins and championships records?

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With five races left in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon is in the driver’s seat to potentially earn a fifth career IndyCar championship.

After winning Sunday at Toronto, Dixon now has a 62-point edge over second-ranked and defending series champ Josef Newgarden and a 70-point lead over third-ranked Alexander Rossi.

The triumph north of the border was Dixon’s third there, as well as his 44th career IndyCar win, third-highest in IndyCar annals.

Add in the four IndyCar championships and those are stellar numbers indeed.

What makes things all the more amazing is Dixon has done all that in under 18 full seasons on the IndyCar circuit. Heck, he’s only 37 years old, too (although he turns 38 on July 22).

Dixon’s championships have come in 2003 (his first full season in IndyCar after two prior seasons in CART/Champ Car), 2008, 2013 and most recently in 2015.

The quiet, unassuming New Zealander has been one of the most successful drivers ever not just in IndyCar, but in all forms of motorsports.

When his name is mentioned, it’s typically included with the only two drivers who have more career wins than he does: A.J. Foyt (67 wins and seven championships, both records) and Mario Andretti (52 wins and four titles).

That’s a pretty lofty pair to be part of.

One might think that after all the success he’s had, Dixon could easily walk away from IndyCar and Chip Ganassi Racing and enjoy an early retirement.

But competing in and winning races isn’t really a job for Dixon. He enjoys what he’s doing so much that he easily could keep doing what he’s doing – and at a high level – for another seven or more years, at least.

So, can Dixon catch Mario and A.J.? The former would be easier than the latter, for sure.

Numerically, it’s possible – at least part of it:

* Dixon can easily be competitive into his mid-40s.

* He’s averaged three-plus wins every season since 2007 (37 wins from then through Sunday). That means if he can keep that average going, he could reach 24 more wins – to overtake Foyt – by 2026. Yes, that may be a stretch to even imagine, but if there’s any current driver who potentially could overtake Foyt, it’s Dixon.

* Dixon already has three wins this season, and with five more races still to go, he could easily win another one, two or maybe even three more in 2018 as he continues his road to the championship. And let’s not forget that with each additional win, that’s one win closer to overtaking Andretti and Foyt.

In his usual modest and humble manner, Dixon downplays not just talk comparing him with Andretti and Foyt, but also overtaking one or both.

“I think A.J. is pretty safe,” he said. “He’s a long ways ahead. … Eight (championships) is an infinity away. Takes a long time to get eight.”

But that doesn’t mean Dixon can’t keep working at approaching Foyt’s mark.

“I think for us, we take it race by race,” he said. “We’re in the business of winning races. If we’re not doing that, I won’t have a job for too long. That’s the focus for right now.”

If he wins the championship this year, he’ll pass Andretti’s championship mark. That would be one record down, three to go.

And if he can win nine more races over the next few seasons, he’ll pass Andretti’s 52 career wins, making it two records down and two more to go.

“Right now with 44 wins, next on the list is Mario I think at 52 or something,” Dixon said after Sunday’s win. “We’ll see how it goes. Right now, we’re just trying to get the job done for the team.”

And he’s doing a darn good job at that indeed – with likely even more success still to come.

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