Zak Brown has overseen an ambitious rebuilding of the McLaren Formula 1 team since joining the team in 2016 and being appointed CEO in 2018. The team have improved dramatically since their tumultuous relationship with engine supplier Honda ended following the 2017 season, and have since returned to the podium on multiple occasions, including their emotional 1-2 finish at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.
Now as Formula 1 looks to the future with the introduction of sweeping new regulations coming into effect from this season, Brown has his say on the so-called “new era”.
“I am excited by the changes in store, both on and off the racetrack for our sport and our team,” he said “as we start the new year with a renewed desire to pursue success across all our endeavours.”
“There are several reasons to be excited for F1 in 2022. The new technical regulations present one of the biggest resets the sport has seen.
“Not only will the revisions increase the unpredictability of the competitive order as we head to the first round in Bahrain, but the changes to the cars (with an emphasis on ground-effect aerodynamics) should enrich the on-track spectacle for the fans.”
Brown emphasised the investment and dedication of the team in preparation for the new season saying the team's racing heritage is backed up by “rigorous planning and strategic investment”.
Looking ahead, Brown reiterated the teams determination to get back to the front of the grid and highlighted the teams gradual improvements over the past three seasons, culminating in their hard fought battle with Ferrari for third place in the constructors’ championship in 2021.
“In the last three years McLaren has enjoyed its best run of form for more than a decade,” he said.
“In 2021 we finished fourth in the FIA Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship, having amassed 275 points, just 48.5 points off third place and comfortably ahead of fifth. But we are still early in our journey to return to the front. We remain ambitious and determined but realistic.”
The CEO continued to praise the team's driver lineup of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, highlighting their standout performances in 2021, as well as the hard work of all the team members both on track and at the factory, an aspect often overlooked.
Brown also went on to discuss his long-,term visions for the sport, touching on the economic viability and fairness brought forward by the new spending cap. The former racer also criticised what he calls the “threat of A and B Teams”, an issue he deems damaging to the sport.
“In a nutshell, the current situation allows B teams to be over competitive compared to constructors, and A teams to be over competitive by having the benefit of a B team. Without a correction, the way things stand mean that any team with championship aspirations needs to have a B team in place and that simply is not Formula 1.”
Although Brown was critical of some aspects, he praised the appointment of Mohammed Ben Sulayem as President of the FIA, highlighting an opportunity to reform what he calls “systemic issues” regarding the rules and the implementation and enforcement of said rules.
“Greater clarity on the roles of the FIA and F1 and the need for increased leadership of the sport will undoubtedly be on the agenda for Mohammed Ben Sulayem and Stefano Domenicali and their respective teams," he said.
“Previous administrations pursued a mainly autocratic style of governance, so to point the sport in the right direction it was necessary to take a more consultative approach with teams and stakeholders. But now the sport has been successfully reset, moving forward there is a need to shift back to stronger, more directive leadership and governance at the top of the sport.”