While McLaren may be on an upwards trajectory in Formula 1, CEO Zak Brown doesn’t forget the hardships his team and fans have endured.
Under the watchful eye of CEO Zak Brown, the last three Formula 1 seasons have seen McLaren making a steady move back to the front of the field.
Coming off their recent 1-2 finish at the Italian Grand Prix has also seen a new boost of confidence and joy injected into the Woking-based team.
But while it’s still going to be several years until McLaren are able to truly compete with Mercedes and Red Bull for the World Championship, the Italian Grand Prix has proven they still have the capabilities to win races in the short term.
McLaren’s gradual build of success over recent years has provided employees and fans alike with some hope for the future, after being largely uncompetitive since 2012. The tough times haven’t been lost on Brown, who acknowledges the win at Monza is a step in the right direction for all involved.
“I think all the men and women at McLaren who have been working so hard, certainly since the last five years I’ve been here, but I know it goes back 20, 30, 40 years with some of the individuals and it’s been a tough ride,” Brown said. “So I think that was a big victory for the team. Then of course our sponsor partners, a lot of them joined us when we were just making promises and now to be able to start to fulfil on some of those. The fans have stuck by us and it’s been equally frustrating for them to see us not performing.
“It’s got to give credit to Andreas [Seidl] and the entire team. But, we need to keep our feet on the ground. It was a great weekend, but we still have a way to go. We’re not the fastest team every weekend, it was great that we were last weekend, but we’re still on a journey, but this was a great step along the way.”
McLaren’s win at the Italian Grand Prix provides a good example of just how competitive the team can be under the right conditions and circumstances. Monza is a track that provided all the right ingredients for the MCL35M to mix it up with Mercedes and Red Bull.
The car is in its element on a high-speed track requiring a low downforce setup. While circuits that require a higher downforce setup, with more twists and turns, such as Zandvoort, has seen the MCL35M struggle.
The haul of points Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris were able to secure in Italy have pushed McLaren back passed Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship. They now sit in third place, 13.5 points clear of the Scuderia.
The fight for ‘best of the rest’ is likely to continue for the remainder of the season. With the SF21 having considerably different characteristics to the MCL35M, the shift in power between the two teams will change from track to track.
“I think the battle is going to carry on race to race,” Brown continued. “I think like all race cars, some tracks suit your car better than others. Last year we were very quick in in Monza, and we knew Zandvoort was not a circuit that plays to our strengths.
“As we look to the next seven to eight races, we kind of see some in there that we think will fall our way and some that will fall Ferrari’s way. I think we’ve always been good at Monza, so I think we need to recognise that we’re going to continue to have the ups and downs, while progressing up the grid.”