McLaren: Driver rivalry will remain healthy

Date published: February 18 2017

Zak Brown is confident McLaren will maintain a “healthy” rivalry between Fernando Alonso and new signing Stoffel Vandoorne.

After two years with Jenson Button as his McLaren team-mate, Alonso has a new partner this season in rookie driver Vandoorne.

The Belgian racer is stepping up a full-time drive having proven his quality in the GP2 series where, in 2015, he claimed 16 podiums in 21 races.

Vandoorne and Alonso are already well acquainted as the latter has been McLaren’s test driver for the past two seasons, even replacing Alonso at the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Brown, McLaren’s new executive director, is confident that the two will work well together and avoid the pitfalls of a negative intra-team rivalry.

“They get along very well,” Brown said in an interview with US motorsports correspondent Marshall Pruett .

“They’re both kind of head-down, focused on their own racing. I think they’re going to work well together to drive the team forward.

“And while we all know team-mates want to beat each other, they want to beat everyone else.

“I don’t think either of them is the type who are going to be too excited about beating their team-mate if they’re eight or ninth.

“I think their primary agenda focus is about getting to the front of the field, and then worrying about each other.

“Stoffel is a very nature 24-year-old. I have no doubt he’s going to push Fernando, which is going to be healthy for the team. I’ve seen that to be a very healthy relationship.

“I don’t think that will change, but as we all know in motor racing most of the team-mates get to each other – whether it’s Senna and Prost or Rosberg and Hamilton, it becomes tricky.

“I’m looking forward to the competition between them and look forward to helping manage through some team rivalries which no doubt you’ll have. We’re just going to keep it healthy.”