Zak Brown talks about a pleasing 2021 F1 season despite the position loss to Ferrari as he looks on ahead to the future of McLaren to be in a good shape.
McLaren had a very eventful 2021 season. Though they finished fourth in the constructors’ championship, their accolades and accumulated points passed their 2020 season. CEO Brown acknowledges the progress made by the British F1 outfit in all aspects related to the results they’re getting, from a financial bounce back, use of tangible and intangible resources, and the people at Woking.
Five podiums, a 1-2 finish, pole position, and higher points total at the end of the season rounds off a great season for McLaren showing its ongoing growth as a team. Though they finished in a position lower than the 2020 season, the improvement in performance is evident and impossible to overlook.
“We wanted to close the gap in 2021 to the front and we’ve done that,” said Brown to media including FormulaRapida.net. “We scored more points per race than we did in 2020, we had more podiums, we got a great 1-2 at Monza, we had our pole at Russia. Unfortunately, we slipped to fourth in the championship, but I think that’s just the nature of competitive the sport is.
“Our pit stops were much improved, so everything we set out at the beginning of the season to continue to get towards the front, we’ve hit every single one of those KPI’s that we set out other than the constructors’ championship. But I think when we look back on the year, we see it as a very successful year where we continued to build on our journey to get back to competing for the world championship in a few years time,” summed up Brown.
The American stated the mission for McLaren is to be back on top and up front with the big dogs fighting for the world championship and that, to him, is the path that McLaren is currently on. With their previous financial stresses solved, and their employee retention and satisfaction high, he believes that the team is on their way to getting back to where they feel they belong.
“I think we’re definitely on track in kind of every aspect never quite goes every race according to plan but if you take a step back, when I joined we were 9th, 6th, 4th, 3rd, so we have stepped up steadily,” continued Brown. “We’ve got all the people in place, they’re all very much committed and signed up to the long term, whether that’s racing car drivers or team principals or engineers or car designers.
“So, I’m really happy with our people which is what’s first and foremost important and as everyone knows, we had challenges last year financially and those have all been resolved. We’re now deploying maximum resources to get caught up on our technical infrastructure and we’re running at the budget cap, the wind tunnel is under heavy construction as we speak, we’ve got new engineering trucks, we’ve got a new simulator coming.
“We’ve got lots of investment, so we’re financially very healthy, so that’s all behind us. And then this year on-track, we just want to continue each year until we have our infrastructure in place, which unfortunately really won’t be until the 2024 season, because our wind tunnel will be online in another 18 months.
“And that’s when you start developing the 2024 car. We’ll make the best with what we have until 2024, when we can say we’ve got everything that we need,” summed up Brown, who then elaborated more on the financial side and how McLaren has done in the commercial side plus marketing being a fan favourite, etc.
“We’re in great financial shape,” started Brown. “We are fully funded. Our revenue is growing rapidly. I think we’ve announced more partners than any other Formula 1 team, it was great to see us come out in the research as the fans’ favorite team, fans’ favorite driver line-up, Lando the favorite amongst females and under 25, second and fourth most popular drivers, all of that is really to the drivers, the team, our communications team, our digital team, our marketing team getting us back on top off the track.
“MSP has given us the financial resources we need to get from here to profitability, they’ve given us the resource we need to spend on the cost cap and make all the investments that we were behind on, such as the wind tunnel, the things I mentioned earlier and with that the on track results, the off track results, the investment, team morale has never been stronger.
“So they’ve been a very stabilising influence both physically but also emotionally within the racing teams. They’re great partners, they’re sports investors and they want to win. They understand sport, it’s a unique business, so a year on we could’nt be happier,” summed up Brown.
The story was written by Selena Aburas
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Here’s Zak Brown on Andreas Seidl
Here’s Andreas Seidl, Toto Wolff on FIA communication