Zak Brown: We can’t compete with top two teams

Last night on US TV, former racing driver turned McLaren boss admitted that “last year was the worst year in the history of McLaren”.

Fair statement from the American, Zak Brown. Thus far everything has been pointed at the disastrous engine partnership with Honda. Brown promptly threw Honda under the bus during his first year in charge of McLaren. Instead of a works team, potentially challenging for the Championship in the near future, McLaren will be a customer or satellite team. And yet, McLaren’s line and desired public perception remains a positive one. Brown is still saying: “I think you’ll see us leap to the front in Australia”.

Over optimistic? Perhaps, but now Honda have gone and the endless pot of money that comes with it, we hear Brown admit for the first time that McLaren won’t be able to compete financially with the top two teams.

“It’s an expensive sport — we’re not able to compete financially with the top two teams. We’re still definitely one of the top four teams. We need to continue to improve there to put as much resource into our race team as possible. If we can get all of that right we’re going to start to move up the grid significantly.”

There is a huge gulf between the Mercedes / Ferrari sharp end, with Red Bull picking up the scraps. Anything short of beating Red Bull in 2018 could be seen as failure after the endless mantra of McLaren’s ‘amazing chassis’, let down by Honda.

But still, Brown trusts in his drivers and in particular Alonso. Do not underestimate the influence that the Spaniard has had with the changes for 2017 / 18 at McLaren.

“Fernando is very diligent, he’s very focused and very demanding of himself and the team. When Fernando comes into the garage you see everyone stand up a little more upright.”

Fairly quickly we’ll see if McLaren Renault will be a Red Bull beater, the winner of the budget restricted midfield or a complete disaster (again). Perhaps then Williams should start advising them on what it’ll be like existing through decade of decline?

10 responses to “Zak Brown: We can’t compete with top two teams

  1. Will also be the year that Alonso has to prove his worth for development and performance. Does he still have what it takes, did he ever?

  2.“One of the top 4 teams” gives me the impression they know they aren’t even going to beat Red Bull after their continuous claims last year that they had the best chassis

    The sadistic part of me wants to see them scrapping with Force India and Renault for 5th, just to hear the excuses they come up with, but there is also part of me that wishes they get their shit together and we actually have a 4 car battle at the front instead of the 1 car massacre we’ve had to endure the last 4 years. At least Nico made it interesting wondering which Mercedes was going to win

    • Some technical commentators at several sites, Mark Hughes might have been one, suggested that the MCL32 wasn’t really a great chassis and that it’s lack of performance wasn’t all due to the Honda engine. Apparently in some / many races they were running a lot more downforce than everyone else to stabilize the car and then claiming it was slow because of the engine.

  3. It is unlucky that McLaren has become a team which is heard louder off track than on. Brown’s comments I take with a pinch of salt. At least Williams had some dignity in their demise.
    Concerning Alonso: yes, he is good. You don’t become world champion just by being lucky. But is he really THE leader? If so: it didn’t help Ferrari.
    Having said that: it would be nice to have race wins go to another team than only Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

    I must admit that I am rooting for Torro to get further on the grid.

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