Zak Brown states that Fernando Alonso leaving F1 was not ‘necessarily needed’ but then McLaren ‘certainly benefited’ from new pairing.
Ever since Alonso left McLaren at the end of the 2018 F1 season, the British team has found new success without the two-time champion, and have even improved from the rear end of the midfield, to becoming best-of-the-rest in 2019, with a podium finish as well.
Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne did play a role in the success which Brown has acknowledged in the past. When FormulaRapida.net asked if his departure was needed considering the success, the American stated that it wasn’t but added that McLaren did gain eventually.
The American justified this by saying that Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris gave the garage an aura of ‘freshness’, and hit a reset button within the team. “Well, Fernando’s a two-time world champion, so it was ultimately his decision to stop competing in F1,” said Brown.
“I think when you bring in two new drivers it does bring a freshness to the garage, and the ability to hit the reset button. So I don’t think it was necessarily needed, but we certainly benefited from having two new drivers and a lot of change in the garage.
“It actually has come together pretty quickly as far as working as a cohesive team. We knew Lando was extremely fast. I’m really pleased with how mature he’s been, he just hasn’t made those rookie mistakes you see some other rookies actually, make.
“And then Carlos we knew was extremely fast, I think he’s really stepped up in our environment, and what I hadn’t anticipated was how well they were going to work together. I didn’t think they were going to not work well together.
“But I think they’ve been a bit of a surprise to everyone that kinda the combination of those two, [and] the atmosphere they’ve created inside McLaren.” As Brown stated, sometimes teams are forced to make changes, which ends up bringing good results.
Continuing with their current drivers, Brown credited both Norris and Sainz for their work despite them not being world champions at present and not having the experience which, for example, Alonso and or Jenson Button or Lewis Hamilton possessed.
“Norris, as a 19-year-old, we kind of take for granted that these drivers just come and settle [with] the amount of pressure that’s on them,” said Brown. “I think he’s a breath of fresh air and that he is really honest with himself. I actually think at times he’s more critical about a session or a lap than we are.
“And to me that means he’s constantly wanting to improve and analysing what he’s doing and how he can improve which you can imagine some 19-year-olds might not have that discipline to look in the mirror and might be going ‘I’m just a 19-year-old superstar in Formula 1’. He’s quite grounded.
“On the other hand, Sainz has had his fifth year, which is good experience, even though he is young and you can see on Fridays, how much Norris learns from Sainz. He’s that sponge in that sense and I think that’s where his maturity is coming through.”
Here’s James Key on the progress from Carlos Sainz
Here’s news on management shuffle at McLaren from 2020
Here’s Lando Norris outlining what McLaren has to do in 2019
Here’s James Key on McLaren’s new F1 simulator
Here’s Lando Norris on feeling frustrated at certain point
Here’s Zak Brown denouncing Lando Norris-Mercedes deal
Here’s Lando Norris on why he thinks 2019 was the apt year for F1 debut
Here’s Carlos Sainz on McLaren season
The story was co-written by Duncan Leahy