Zak Brown has joined the McLaren team in the end of 2016, before switching to his role as the Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Racing in 2018. During those past 2 years of his position as the CEO, the team has signed Andreas Siedl, the former Hybrid Porsche LMP1 program team principal, and got Carlos Sainz Jr and Lando Norris as their drivers.
Before, McLaren was suffering massively for the past couple of years, having a bad stint with the Honda engines as well as having some problems related to their line up (who back then was Vandoorne - Alonso, and it has been no secret that the Alonso - McLaren relationship was not necessarily beneficial for the team).
The current progress of the team and the good relationship between their drivers has been the most visible last season, especially with the first podium in five years - the third place of Sainz in the 2019 Brazilian GP. That was followed by Lando Norris scoring a podium in the opening weekend of the 2020 season. With their current pace and race results, McLaren is 3rd in the constructors championship, with 51 points. Ahead are only Mercedes and Red Bull.
In an interview with Channel 4, Brown said: “It’s been really good. Andreas has done a great job leading our team and getting the right people in the right places. It’s coming together and we still have a long way to go, but the drivers are doing a great job so it’s a good start to the year. When I joined there was a lot of leadership changes within McLaren and I think in any race team or business, if you don’t have a clear vision and a consistent leadership then the team doesn’t know which direction to head in.”
He added: “We lacked direction. We maybe didn’t invest in some of the right areas so the first thing I tried to do was to tackle getting great people around me and fortunately I think we have recruited those great people. They needed direction and I think we have brought that. Now everyone is going the same way you are starting to see the results.”
There are some big changes for McLaren in 2021. Not only will Carlos Sainz be replaced with Daniel Ricciardo, after the Spaniard was signed by (struggling massively this year) Ferrari, but the team will also ditch the Renault engines and come back to the Mercedes ones, a manufacturer they partnered with between 1995 and 2014. Zak Brown believes those changes will only help McLaren to take a further step forward.
As he said: “We think the [Mercedes] power unit will be a further step forward for us. Mercedes has been the class of the field in this hybrid era so that’s exciting.Then with Daniel, who we missed out on a couple of years ago, I think we have got the combination that makes for the most exciting driver line-up with him and Lando both on and off the track.”