2018 Villain of the Year: Zak Brown

This year Zak Brown was the obvious candidate with few competitors for the dubious accolade as he sets the course for the revival of the second greatest team in Formula 1 history, with very few spectators having much belief in his ability to lead McLaren out of the quagmire they are in.

Last year Honda were painted as culprits by Zak and everyone under his command, including stirrer in chief Fernando Alonso. They all sold themselves the ridiculous notion that in 2017 they had the best chassis on the planet and only the “GP2 engine” was letting them down.

With Renault power, ahead of the past season, Zak said, “I would like to think that we are going to have a chance at winning.” Yes! He said that!

Now after a miserable season at the wrong end of the grid, Life According to Zak is:

  • a five-year plan is in place. Why five years?
  • the car will have more sponsors on it next year. What kind of sponsors? Kimoa?
  • Gil de Ferran with zero F1 racing experience there to help their drivers. Why? And why with his Indycar expertise is he helping in F1 with an Indy 500 project happening?
  • Fernando Alonso still with a foot in the door. Why? Is he not part responsible for all the rot?
  • James Key arriving sometime. So what?
  • Pat Fry in charge of the MCL34. Big deal…
  • Andrea Stella doing his thing. What he is paid to do no doubt.
  • Indy 500 programme in place. Why? And why headed by an F1 guy with no Indycar experience when you have Gil de Ferran?
  • And all is good in Camelot. Really?

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt I thought, because in his own words and no doubt that of a clearly very patient board: they must improve.

And in fact, that will be Zak and Gil’s biggest test, namely improving from sixth. The only reason they were not ninth last year was because of Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard made the difference.

In terms of the pecking order at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix the orange cars were only a tad quicker than woeful Williams and nearly half a second off next best Toro Rosso.

Furthermore, one must question the many hats he wears for a guy who should have his eye on one ball, he also has a hand in United Autosports.

The Motorsport Network links are hugely problematic from a conflict of interest point of view – the whole setup stinks.

And of course, other interests include being part of Lando Norris’ management team – yes the kid that replaces Stoffel Vandoorne in the team next year. Conflict of interest anyone?

Which brings me to the crass insincerity of a guy who after firing Vandoorne and hiring his own driver, he still had the audacity to call on other team principals to give Stoffel a ride next year.

By coincidence or not, this info hit the public mainstream through well-placed reports on Motorsport Network, who were also cheerleaders in chief for Norris who – much to their consternation – got well and truly owned by George Russell in Formula 2 this year.

If Stoffel was indeed that good, why ditch him for an unproven teenager? What happened to: “Mate you are shite, pack your stuff and piss off.”

Zak’s insincerity was crass and offensive considering how Fernando Alonso crushed and destroyed Stoffel the past two seasons.

And finally, of course, the pièce de résistance: WTF is going on with Zak man-crush he has on Fernando? There is some big-time infatuation going on there which threatens to take the whole organisation down.

The damage already done by the Spaniard in various stages of his Woking stints has been substantial: $100-million (ten years ago)… Ditching Honda… Switching to Renault… Kimoa… Indy 500 again…

Its a strange situation and only time will tell how healthy or unhealthy it is for this once mighty team. A motor racing institution once as important to the sport as Ferrari, but today an also-ran race team with significance waning alarmingly.

Bruce McLaren must be rolling over in his grave. Can’t imagine what Ron Dennis makes of the

I have a sealed envelope with a pen-written prediction I am making with regards to Zak and McLaren. This time next year we will open it and see if I was correct.

In closing, Zak Brown gets my 2018 Villain of the Year Award for conspicuous reasons, no contest actually.

Brown: I like to think we have a winning chance

Note on the 2018 GrandPrix247.com Formula 1 Awards:
With so many official Formula 1 and Motorsport Awards happening out there during this festive season, this year, as Editor I decided a one-man poll would do the trick as opposed to the logistics of a democratic poll.
I was also malleable with the Award categories, adding when required as deserving recipients sprang to mind.
For the record, these Awards are my own point of view, thus biased and opinionated but no bribes were taken nor offered!
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