McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has warned further progress for the team is only going to get more difficult to achieve after its best season since 2012.
Carlos Sainz ended a run of over five years without a podium for McLaren when he finished third at the Brazilian Grand Prix, as the team comfortably secured fourth in the constructors’ championship. While 2019 represented a major step forward compared to the previous season — McLaren bettered its 2018 tally by 83 points last year — Brown says continuing on such a trajectory is a big ask.
“A lot’s going to be happening in 2020 and 2021,” Brown said. “(Next season) the rules don’t change a lot, so our goal has to be to continue to incrementally improve. Keep our head down. We’ve still got a lot to work on. We started last season more than 1.5 seconds off pole and towards the end of the year it was as low as eight-tenths. That’s still a big gap we need to close.
“And then, come 2021, it’s going to be the biggest reset in the recent history of Formula 1, and I think that’s going to be exciting. Not only for us, I think it’s going to be exciting for everyone who follows the sport.
“Again, with the budget cap coming in, that will help, but that’s not really going to settle in until 2022 and 2023. So, while we’re on forward progress up the field, it’s going to get harder the nearer we get to the front but all the men and women at McLaren are up for it.”
Despite his words of caution, Brown also says McLaren’s turnaround has come in quick time given the major changes he made to the team’s technical structure and driver line-up over the past 18 months.
“It felt like a long year but in reality, it’s been a very short window since we started making changes with our racing team in 2018. Starting with the technical side, we signed James Key early on. We’re very excited to have him as our technical director and he and his team have been working hard to put together our 2020 race car.
“Andrea Stella has stepped up — he’s leading the team at race weekends — and then, of course, Andreas Seidl, our new team principal, has just done an outstanding job, bringing a tremendous amount of leadership to our racing team.”