As the F1 racing season commenced, Zak Brown, Executive Director of McLaren, sensed a shift in the team’s fortunes before the summer break. Despite this inklings of optimism, Brown confessed the team’s less than stellar beginning to the racing season left a harrowing impact, terming it as “traumatised”.
McLaren found itself struggling during the preseason and the year’s initial series of races, a situation further exacerbated by the exit of James Key, the technical boss, in late March. The team, however, identified a crucial turning point in the shape of the upgrade they intended to introduce at the Austrian Grand Prix, a hope that materialized in due course.
Successful podium claims came for Lando Norris at Silverstone and Budapest. Oscar Piastri, a fellow team member, finished second at the notable sprint race held in Belgium. Brown admitted to F1 Initiative, “There’s a lot of pressure in this sport, especially given how poor we were at the start of the year.” He further added, “I always say things feel a certain way before they look a certain way.”
Regarding James Key‘s exit in March, F1 Initiative learned that preparations for his departure were already underway before the season even began. Andrea Stella, the team’s boss, who took over Adrian Seidl’s role after his shift to Sauber‘s Alfa Romeo team, had since completely restructured the entire technical team.
Peter Prodromou found himself in a higher role under Stella’s new committee structure, and promises for future partnerships with Red Bull‘s Rob Marshall and Ferrari‘s David Sanchez were put in place. Brown insinuated that Key, currently affiliated with Seidl at Sauber, was impairing the team’s progress. The team, now given the freedom and authority to leverage their abilities, has shown improvement, as reinforced by Brown, “It’s a lot of the same people who delivered the car at the start of the year who delivered the upgrades”.
Despite McLaren‘s bad start, the team kept its predictions and expectations in check. “Given how bad our start to the season was and how vocal people are, you don’t want to make any predictions you don’t have a high degree of confidence in,” said Brown, commending Stella’s non-extravagant predictions and his ability to meet delivery expectations.
There’s a conjecture within the paddock that McLaren will continue to hold its position in the ranks. However, the dismal memories from the season’s initial months and Aston Martin‘s gradual fizzle out despite their strong start, have resulted in a cautious approach from Brown and his team going forward. Acknowledging the turbulent start to the year, Brown affirmed, “we’re going to keep our head down and our mouth shut about what we’re doing.”