McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown believes the team’s upcoming switch to Mercedes power means the right ingredients are in place for his team to win again in Formula 1 after 2021, but warns success won’t come instantly.
Brown has brought in a new team principal in Andreas Seidl and a new technical director in James Key as part of a structural overhaul at McLaren in recent years, and last weekend the team announced it will use Mercedes power units from 2021 onwards. McLaren will also build a new wind tunnel over the coming two years, and Brown said the next challenge will be getting the team to gel.
“I think I’ve got all the right people, the right structure in place,” Brown told RACER. “I‘ll have the right budget when the budget cap comes in, and then it’s going to take time. It’s like any sports team, you’ve then got to come together and be a great team. I think we’re getting better – Andreas or James Key or some of these guys haven’t even been here for a full season yet, and I think it’s going to realistically take time.
“If you look at Mercedes in 2013 when they won one race, they had to get into a rhythm. I think that’s why these teams, when they start winning, they stay on the top step for a while – because they’ve got all the momentum until someone else gets their act together and something derails them a little bit.
“So I think we’ve got the right ingredients but it’s not out of the oven yet, fully-cooked as a championship team.”
Brown does not see the fact that McLaren will be a customer team as a roadblock to race-winning ambitions, despite Ron Dennis originally dropping Mercedes for Honda in the belief only a works deal would lead to championships in the V6 turbo era.
“I see that changing,” he said. “Whether the happens in 2021 or not, that might be too early. I think the works teams win because they’re the best, most-funded racing teams. I think the fact that it’s got a works engine is almost… not a coincidence, but it’s not because they’ve got a works engine that they’re winning.
“I think Mercedes would be winning with a Renault engine, because they’ve got great drivers, a great team, great chassis, big budget and a great engine. But if you were to put another engine in the back of that car would they have won the last four or five years? Probably. The engine’s an important element but it’s not why they win, in my opinion.”