Zak Brown has declared that McLaren are “definitely back in the game now” with the team’s new wind tunnel up and running to go along with their improved results on track in the F1 2023 season.
McLaren started this year with muted expectations after missing development targets over the winter, but enjoyed a huge upturn in performance with a range of updates to the MCL60 car ahead of the summer break.
Lando Norris claimed consecutive podium finishes in Britain and Hungary before rookie team-mate Oscar Piastri came close to pipping the dominant Red Bull of Max Verstappen to sprint pole at the Belgian Grand Prix.
McLaren now in a position to fight regularly at the front, claims Zak Brown
Having struggled to build on the success of 2021, when Daniel Ricciardo memorably ended the team’s nine-year win drought at Monza, chief executive Brown feels McLaren are in a better position to grow following the arrival of a long-awaited new wind tunnel at their Woking factory.
Speaking after the opening practice session at this weekend’s Dutch GP, Brown told Sky F1: “I think we should be competitive this weekend. Our last three or four races have been really strong.
“Everyone’s bringing upgrades, so as we know in Formula 1 it’s continuous improvement, but the team is highly motivated. Andrea [Stellla, team principal] and everyone are doing a great job, everyone’s very excited.
“But also [race day at] Spa was difficult, so we know it’s not going to just be a straight curve back to the front. We’re going to have some good days and bad days, but we’re definitely back in the game now.”
Asked how McLaren’s preparations for next season are developing, Brown confirmed the team’s new wind tunnel is open for business after more than a decade of using Toyota’s facility in Cologne.
And he believes it will have a transformational effect on the team’s competitiveness, allowing McLaren to allocate funds to other areas including the hiring of new personnel.
“Really well. We’re in the wind tunnel now,” he said.
“We moved out over the summer break from Toyota, very grateful, we used theirs for over a decade and we’re in ours now which is very exciting. It’s state of the art, very convenient, about a 100-metre walk to our model shop, so I think we’ll see the productivity of that.
“We’ve got our new manufacturing unit we moved into before the summer break, so all of our manufacturing is now up and running, our simulator and our CFD.
“So we have all the toys that we need to compete at the front, now it’s just going to take some more time and have a few more people join us and we’re on our way.
“I think efficiency and productivity [has improved at McLaren]. Size-wise, I think we’re the same as everyone else cost cap-wise.
“But now things like the wind tunnel. When we were renting a wind tunnel, you’re obviously paying a premium. Now that we have our own, we can reallocate those monies into other areas – hence being able to recruit some more people, increase the headcount in certain departments.
“So now it’s just really about culture and everyone working hard, which they’re doing and a little bit of time.
“Even though all our new toys are here, we’re just kind of getting settled into them. So it’ll take a little bit of time to start seeing the benefit of them.”