Bar P3, McLaren achieved all ‘key points’ for 2021

Jamie Woodhouse
McLaren CEO Zak Brown celebrating on the Italian GP podium. Monza September 2021.

Zak Brown celebrating on the podium after McLaren's 1-2 finish at the Italian Grand Prix. Monza September 2021.

Although McLaren did not retain P3 in the Constructors’ Championship, their racing CEO Zak Brown viewed 2021 as an overall success.

Throughout the campaign McLaren were locked in a battle with Ferrari at the front of the midfield pack, though the Scuderia ultimately pulled away in the final few rounds to crown themselves ‘best of the rest’ for 2021.

But that does not mean that it was a poor season for McLaren, far from it, with the Woking outfit generally taking a step closer to the leading duo of Mercedes and Red Bull.

There was also the highlight of a one-two finish on merit at the Italian Grand Prix, Daniel Ricciardo taking the chequered flag with Lando Norris following in P2.

Norris also claimed the first pole position of his career at the Russian GP, contending for that honour on multiple other occasions during the season.

In total, McLaren secured five podium finishes in 2021, scoring 73 points more than in 2020.

All in all then, McLaren achieved each of their objectives outside of that P3 finish.

Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris lead the Italian GP. Monza September 2021.
Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris lead for McLaren in the Italian Grand Prix, ahead of Charles Leclerc's Ferrari. Monza September 2021.

Speaking to, Brown said: “This year [2021] we wanted to close the gap with respect to the front, and we have done it.

“We have scored more points per race than last season, we made more visits to the podium, we got a double in Italy and a pole in Russia.

“Unfortunately, we have fallen to fourth position, and I think that shows the competitive nature of this sport.

“The pit stops have improved a lot, everything we set out to do at the start of the year to keep getting closer to the leaders. We’ve achieved all the internal key points we set out to do, not counting the World Championship position.

“We have to look back and see this year as a successful one, and keep building on this path to be back in contention for the championship in a few seasons.”

McLaren were one of the teams most heavily impacted by the global pandemic, forcing them to look for fresh investment.

The McLaren Technology Centre in Woking was sold for £170m and leased back to them, a pot of funding worth £550m was secured midway through 2021, and a minority stake in the McLaren Formula 1 team was sold to American sports investment firm MSP Sport Capital in a deal worth £185m.

These measures put McLaren back on a strong financial footing, and Brown believes that all of the right people are in place to make best use of it on track.

A new wind tunnel is also under development, set to be completed in 18 months’ time, so Brown is full of optimism for the future of McLaren in Formula 1.

The goal is to challenge for wins and titles again, and the team are affording themselves until 2024, at which point that McLaren challenger will have benefited from the new windtunnel, simulator and everything else that will be in place.


“I think we’re on the right track,” he said.

“We have all the people in place, they are very committed and with long-term contracts, whether they are drivers, team principals or engineers. I’m very happy with our people, which is the most important thing.

“As everyone knows, last year we had financial problems, but they have already been resolved. We are investing our available resources to improve infrastructure, and we are operating at the limit with the budget cap. The wind tunnel is under construction, we have a new simulator on the way, so we’re doing very well financially.

“We want to keep going until we have everything ready, although it will not be until 2024, because our wind tunnel needs another 18 months of work, and that’s when the car starts to be designed for that season.

“We will try to do our best until 2024, when we will be able to say that we will have everything we need.”


Brown disagrees with F1 'corrupt' claims

McLaren CEO Zak Brown thinks the FIA must explain their Abu Dhabi actions, but does not feel the sport is corrupt as a whole.