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McLaren’s Brown Proactively Manages Driver Dynamics

21/12/2023

Brown dismisses tension between driver duo: ‘Not waiting for a second occurrence’
Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris showcased their racing prowess at McLaren F1 last season, earning well-deserved praise for the competitiveness they displayed. However, the possibility of on-track clashes between the two could pose future challenges. McLaren CEO Zak Brown, though, recently stated that he has no intention of letting it reach that point. According to the American, he and team principal Andrea Stella have accumulated sufficient Formula 1 experience to prevent any escalation.

McLaren’s success continued to grow throughout the 2023 season, and it was not without reason. Norris, entering his fifth season with the British team, increasingly engages in battles with seasoned drivers, while Piastri, a rookie, managed to surprise both friends and foes with his impressive performances. In terms of mentality, the two drivers don’t differ significantly, which could potentially lead to challenges in the future. However, Brown assures that he and Team Principal Stella will proactively intervene to prevent any issues from arising.

In a conversation with Formel1.de, Brown emphasized that it is inevitable for the two drivers to eventually cross paths on the track. “We are well aware that when we have two evenly matched drivers, one of them will come out on top and be superior,” he noted. The American acknowledges the possibility of this scenario occurring with the current driver duo, especially given their considerable talent. “They are very competitive at the moment,” the CEO stressed. “You can sense their drive and eagerness to perform, not only when they step into the car. However, we know that a day will come when self-interest takes precedence, and the team may take a back seat.”

Managing Team Dynamics Effectively

Both Norris and Piastri have significant stakes in play. Despite Norris’s talent and ample opportunities, he has yet to secure a race victory. In contrast, Piastri already boasts a sprint race win and shows no intention of stopping there. While Norris has performed better in terms of points and podium finishes, the two drivers are evenly matched nonetheless.

It’s therefore logical to anticipate a future moment when things might go awry between the two drivers. Brown acknowledges that it’s merely a matter of waiting, but the American CEO emphasizes the importance of prevention rather than cure. “I believe Andrea Stella and I are both adept at driver management,” Brown stressed. “I think, in that regard, we can stay one step ahead by ensuring that the internal competition remains healthy.”

The internal rivalry came into focus earlier when the two drivers encountered each other on the track at Monza. However, at that time, Brown and Stella were quick to intervene and calm the situation. “From the outside, it’s sometimes impossible to see how certain things can escalate, and it may appear to an outsider that as a team, we’re not intervening quickly enough. But in Monza, when it happened for the first and last time, we actually had a very healthy and normal conversation afterward,” Brown explained.

Proactive Team Management Approach

According to the American, that was precisely the strength of the team and the drivers: “We don’t wait for it to happen a second time; we intervene immediately.” Brown emphasizes the importance of quickly understanding the drivers’ perspectives to calm the situation as soon as possible. “I think it helps a lot if we understand the drivers’ state of mind. Then we know when it’s best to approach them and who is best suited for that. I have personally experienced how a driver can react if you approach them at the wrong moment because then your attempt backfires, making the situation even worse.”

McLaren F1 CEO Zak Brown McLaren F1 CEO Zak Brown

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