Horner suggests F1 secret ballots would be a 'shame'

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says that it would be a "shame" if Formula 1 opted for a system of secret ballots for future crucial votes about the sport.

The suggestion had made been made by McLaren CEO Zak Brown who said that it was one way of addressing increasingly close affiliations between manufacturer teams and customer squads that he felt had become "unhealthy for the sport"

Brown said in an open letter on the McLaren website that decisions had become "skewed by some teams’ voting power being in favour of their affiliated team partner". He concluded: "We call for secret ballot voting to be implemented in all F1 Commission meetings with immediate effect."

But Horner was quick to argue against Brown's proposal that he felt had been influenced by Mercedes, which provides the team with its power units.

"I heard about that, and I can only assume it's because of pressure applied from the supplier, which if that is the case, is a shame," Horner said on Friday in Portugal.

"It would be a shame to need to go behind a secret ballot, but a team has a right to request that," he acknowledged. "If that's what it took to take independent votes, then we don't have a major issue with it."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff denied that manufacturer had sought to influence how its customer teams had voted, but agreed with Brown that a secret ballot system might prove beneficial.

"You have seen in the past that Toro Rosso has voted like Red Bull, probably without any exemptions, and Haas has gone the Ferrari way," he pointed out. "In our case we have never tried to influence a team.

"Obviously things have been discussed when it was a common topic, like on the power unit," he admitted. "It's clear the teams vote with each other. None of the teams would vote against their own interests in terms of chassis regulations

"No team should be really influenced by any affiliate or any supplier," he continued. "So the idea of the secret ballot is good."

Laurent Mekies (FRA) Ferrari Sporting Director in the FIA Press Conference. 30.04.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Portuguese Grand Prix, Portimao

Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies pointed out that the sport's rules already allowed for voting to be done by secret ballot. "The secret ballot option has been in the governance for a long while.

"It's just the fact that perhaps we didn't use it very often, or certainly in the last few years, we haven't done so. It's good to be able to use it.

"It's up to any team to request a secret ballot on any questions, all the questions. It's already a mechanism that is in the governance with the FIA and F1.

"Whenever a team is not comfortable with an item that needs to be voted, they should raise their hands and make sure we get a secret ballot," he said. "If it's all the time like that, we are always happy. For us, it's a good thing for the sport, and fully supportive."

Alpine is the only team on the grid to be powered by its own Renault engines and not have any customer teams. Executive director Marcin Budkowski indicated that they were in favour of Brown's initiative.

"We believe that every team should be voting for their best interests and what's best for them," he said. "We're in favour, [and] not because it's going to change anything for us.

"We've seen certain situations in the past - the ones that Zak referred to - where some teams seem to be voting against their own interests. That's not good for F1.

"You need to keep the balance right if you want. You can't have teams voting against their interests because of affiliations."

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