Zak Brown responds to Lando Norris’ criticism of McLaren’s upgraded MCL60

Michelle Foster
McLaren driver and CEO Lando Norris and Zak Brown stand together. Singapore September 2022.

Lando Norris and Zak Brown share a conversation outside the McLaren garage. Singapore September 2022.

Zak Brown isn’t annoyed with Lando Norris calling his MCL60 a “pretty terrible” car with the McLaren CEO adamant the team celebrates together and get “grumpy together” too.

Putting a heavily revised car on the track at the Austrian Grand Prix, the MCL60 sporting new-look sidepods as well as a revised diffuser and Halo, Norris went on to score back-to-back podiums at Silverstone and Hungary.

And yet he still voiced his unhappiness with the car.

Zak Brown: We get happy together, we get grumpy together

“We do have a poor car – and I say poor, I would say pretty terrible in the slow-speed corners, extremely difficult to drive,” he said.

He added that there are “still plenty of things which are miles away from, say, competing in certain places with a Mercedes and as a whole package competing even with a Red Bull.”

But rather than get bogged down with his driver’s criticism of the car, Brown says it is “motivating”.

“No, we’re all motivated,” the American told Motorsport.com. “We kind of get happy together, we get grumpy together. So, if he’s made a comment, it’s consistent, it’s motivating.

“We don’t get down, we fight hard. I mean, if you look at how poor start the season was, that was hard.”

McLaren came in for some stick earlier this year when the Woking team, on the eve of the season, admitted they’d missed their development targets with their 2023 Formula 1 car.

Norris wasn’t impressed, telling The Race: “If you want to be a top team, we should have started the season with the best that will come in the next races.”

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That prompted an overhaul of the team’s structure with James Key leaving the team with immediate effect, replaced by a three-pronged system with Peter Prodromou appointed as the new Technical Director for Aerodynamics at McLaren, David Sanchez returning as Technical Director of Car Concept and Performance, and Neil Houldey promoted to the role of Technical Director for Engineering and Design.

And while it has taken time for McLaren to recover from their early-season troubles, the team now has three podiums – two grands prix, one sprint – in the last three race weekends and has pulled clear of Alpine in the battle for fifth in the Constructors’ Championship.

“Meanwhile,” Brown continued, “underneath the surface, we knew we were seeing great development in the wind tunnel, so it was like publicly taking a battering at the start of the year while knowing underneath things were actually going really well.

“And the team handled it really well, so we’re motivated.”

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