Suppression of driver opinion has been a hot topic in recent weeks, the matter thrust into the spotlight at the season-opener in Newcastle thanks to a silent protest of sorts from Shane van Gisbergen.

The reigning series champion declined to address TV and media questions in full following his Race 2 win, which he later explained was a response to being told not to be critical of the new-spec cars.

In the same press conference David Reynolds outlined a similar plight, which followed Supercars Board member Mark Skaife admitting on live television that he'd had a disagreement with Reynolds over text message regarding the driver's view on parity.

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With that in mind, it has been commonly understood that any suppression efforts have been unofficial and didn't originate from Supercars CEO Howard or the series media department.

That has now been put beyond doubt, Howard explaining to media at Albert Park that, in his view, drivers are free to speak their mind.

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In fact he says he welcomes critical feedback as the series looks to refine its new hardware.

"We're not gagging anyone," said Howard. "I speak openly and freely with all of the drivers.

"I did phone Shane after Newcastle and encouraged Shane and the driver group to, post that event, give us some good strong feedback on their thoughts of the car.

"We have an open dialogue with the driver group. We're open to their suggestions.

Brodie Kostecki, Erebus Motorsport Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Photo by: Edge Photographics

"And drivers have had input into these cars on the way through, to the point where there was major chassis modifications in regards to ensuring that the ergonomics and driver comfort were applied.

"It's been ongoing. Drivers had input to the steering wheel layout and the glasshouse and trying to improve the view, and everything down to drink bottles and cool suits and driver comfort."

Howard added that his only wish from drivers who were publicly critical of the cars or series was that they were well-informed, which appeared to be in response to the Reynolds' pre-season parity stance.

"Yes, in a respectful manner and professional manner," he said when asked if drivers were always free to be critical. "Of course. We don't suppress anything.

"Sometimes they need to... everybody has got to have the full story.

"Leading in to Newcastle there was a lot going on in regards to finalising the parity validation, and our approach on that was, it's so important, it's such an important thing to get right for all stakeholders, you measure twice and cut once.

"And I think we did a responsible job on that."

2023-03-31T06:34:35Z dg43tfdfdgfd