Brown: ‘Unrealistic’ to suggest McLaren title challenge

Michelle Foster
Daniel Ricciardo standing with McLaren team-mate Lando Norris. England July 2021

Daniel Ricciardo standing with Lando Norris. England July 2021

Zak Brown says McLaren must not set “unrealistic” targets this season as the team will “not” be championship contenders.

That, however, doesn’t mean they won’t win a grand prix or two.

Daniel Ricciardo broke McLaren’s winless streak last year, leading home his team-mate Lando Norris at the Italian Grand Prix. Surprisingly after all was said and done, that was the only 1-2 result recorded by any team during the 22-race season.

While McLaren battled Ferrari for third place in the Constructors’ Championship, a late-season surge from the Italian outfit meant Ferrari bagged best of the rest at the penultimate race of the season.

McLaren had to settle for fourth place, 48.5 points shy of Ferrari, and more than 300 off teams’ championship winners Mercedes.

That is a deficit in performance that Brown doesn’t believe McLaren will be able to make up this season even with the all-new cars.

“I think it’s great we won our first race [in 2021],” the McLaren CEO told Gulf Business. “We need to be careful not to raise expectations to an unrealistic level.

“I don’t want to say our goal in 2022 is to win two [races] – our goal is to continue to get closer to the front of the field. Of course, we’re going to give it everything we’ve got.”

Daniel Ricciardo in the McLaren in front of his team-mate Lando Norris with Charles Leclerc trying to fight the McLarens. Italy September 2021

Brown says compared to the likes of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, McLaren still have a “couple of years of technical catch-up that we just can’t accelerate any further or faster than we are.

“We still have technical infrastructure that we’re catching up on, most notably our windtunnel.

“I’m not going into next year [2022] thinking we’re going to be a championship contender.”

McLaren head into this year’s championship with several big-name sponsors onboard in Richard Mille, Dell Technologies and Coca-Cola. What they don’t have though is a title sponsor.

Brown says they don’t need one.

“We’re ahead of our business plan as far as where we want to be with our corporate partner portfolio to elegantly sell the car – you don’t want to turn [the car] into a patch of logos,” he explained.

 

“Ultimately, we have a big partner on the side, and the rear wing.

“We’re not actively pursuing a title sponsor in our business plan and that is a conscious, deliberate decision that I made when we started.

“I’d rather not have all my eggs in one basket because our partners contribute a lot to our business growth and our brand. We’re not averse to having a title partner, but the way we’ve built our commercial proposition, we don’t need one.”

 

PlanetF1 Verdict

 

Brown rules out McLaren as a 2022 title contender

Zak Brown rules McLaren out of the 2022 title race.