Zak Brown: McLaren start to 2023 “not as bad as it looks”

Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren MCL60 leaves the pits. 05.05.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA, Practice Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

Zak Brown believes McLaren has shown more performance than some would suggest in early 2023, pointing to areas of improvement in the opening rounds.

The McLaren CEO has overseen a series of changes in his team over the past six months, including the appointment of Andrea Stella as team principal – replacing Andreas Seidl.

Poaching David Sanchez from Ferrari is another example of the changes underway at Woking as the British squad looks to address put itself on the right long-term trajectory.

The apparent success of McLaren’s update package in Baku saw Lando Norris finish P9, the new ‘best of the rest’ position after Aston Martin’s ascent to the front.

A disastrous weekend in Miami followed, where a double Q1 elimination undid much of the optimism surrounding the MCL36’s floor update.

Australian GP data analysis

McLaren is still 5th in the standings, a relatively solid position given their difficult start to the year.

However, concerns remain about when – and if – the team will make the step forward to compete at the front consistently.

Zak Brown and Lando Norris have previously highlighted 2024 and 2025 as the years where there will be no more excuses, so time is running out to deliver.

In any case, Zak Brown believes there are reasons to be optimistic within the team:

“Well, it’s a bit early. Yeah, as I explained, it’s not as bad as it looks, but it’s not as good as it should be. And Bahrain, we were definitely off the pace.

“In Saudi, I think we would have had two cars in Q3. Lando made an uncharacteristic, very small mistake, and then Oscar got run over by Otmar’s driver.

“Actually, that was a racing incident. His front wing and then wipes out Lando. So I don’t think we were able to really race properly in Saudi.

“And Baku, we were much improved, and Australia was decent.

“So yeah, we’re not where we want to be, but it’s not been as bad as maybe people are quick to report after you have one bad race.”

AzerbaijanGP, Baku - Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Changes amongst the team’s senior personnel, new management structures and facilities are the marks of a team in transition – rather than a team poised to make the front.

Team principal Andrea Stella has already discussed the importance of McLaren’s new wind tunnel for the team’s medium- and long-term success.

With that said, it is rare that the stars will perfectly align in F1 – there will always be a reason why you cannot win.

Therefore, whilst the effects of investment into new facilities continue, McLaren must find a way to close the gap with the resource available to them.


Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang