McLaren's Leap From First Points to Podium Hopes

McLaren’s Leap: From First Points to Podium Hopes


Last year, McLaren F1 marked a turning point in Melbourne, a journey from scoring its initial points to becoming a leading force, showcasing significant progress under Zak Brown’s leadership.

A year ago, McLaren F1 scored its first points of the season in Melbourne, albeit aided by numerous retirements from a highly eventful race. This time, the Woking-based team is undeniably one of the top squads in the field, aiming to consistently play a leading role at Albert Park.

For Zak Brown, CEO of the Woking-based outfit (who has just extended his contract until 2030), the progress made in a year is naturally a cause for celebration.

“Yes, our position is much better this time around. It was the first race where we scored points last year, and even then, we inherited some points after incidents at the very end of the race. But all the men and women at McLaren continue to do a fantastic job. I feel like we picked up right where we left off at the end of last year.”

“The field has never been tighter, so we must continue to push hard, but I believe we have designed and developed a very strong race car that, hopefully, will become even stronger, but we know the other nine teams are not sitting idle. Our drivers are doing an excellent job. We have a lot of harmony in the race team, so I think we’re in a very good position to continue improving and moving forward, and I’m very excited about having a lot more races this year.”

Given the American executive mentions the harmony within the team, does it explain why so much progress has been made?

McLaren's Leap From First Points to Podium Hopes

“We’re all racers at heart, both in the factory and on the track, as are all race teams. But I think if you look at the teams that have been dominant over the years, including us, there’s always been some sort of foundation where a large part of the team has worked together for a long time, whether it’s Ferrari’s, McLaren’s, Williams’s, Red Bull’s domination, etc. So, we are still a relatively young team in terms of the current lineup.”

“Andrea Stella is doing a fantastic job. He’s been in his position for a year. Some of the technical changes we’ve made, some of the new hires we’ve had… So, I think we just needed a new team. I think we need a bit more time to continue working together. I believe what makes a sports team strong is continuity, trust, relationships. That’s what we’re focusing on. So, I’m very happy that our drivers are committed for the long term. And I think we have a great team in place and just need more time to continue trying to climb up the grid.”

Among the latest recruits, notable names include Rob Marshall and David Sanchez. Zak Brown specifically mentions their impact on the team.

“They bring a lot of experience, energy, and expertise. They’ve won many races and championships. But we have a great racing team. All these race teams are now significant. So, they add value and give a boost to what is already an excellent team, as we’ve seen what the team could do in the second half of last year. Their knowledge and expertise resonate throughout the organization. And they’re great personalities who bring a lot of energy to the team.”

Piastri “benefits” more from Melbourne because “he knows what to expect”

Oscar Piastri, competing at home this weekend in Melbourne, continues his upward trajectory early this season and comes off a particularly solid weekend in Jeddah. And Brown has indeed noticed that his young Australian driver has reached a new level.

“Yes, he’s getting quicker and quicker. Obviously, we’ve only had two races, but what we’re seeing is that he’s no longer a rookie. On Fridays, he’s immediately up to speed. He’s not really making mistakes. He’s extremely fast. I think for the first two races of the year, it’s the closest driver pairing in the paddock. And that’s exactly what you want as a team. And I think they push each other. They push the team. So, I’m very excited about our driver lineup for the future.”

Piastri also seems more relaxed this weekend than a year ago in front of his home crowd, with Brown explaining this by saying his driver is now more experienced and behind the wheel of a much more competitive car.

“Last year, the start of the season was very challenging. In addition to the pressure of being a rookie and participating in his first home race, you’re also in a racing car that’s not very competitive, so I think he now has a year under his belt and knows what to expect. He’s enjoying it, and it’s nice to see him mature. He’s already a mature young man, but you can really see that a year later, he’s more confident because he knows what to expect. And I think that will drive him to perform even better once he’s got his helmet on.”

McLaren’s Leap: From First Points to Podium Hopes. McLaren’s Leap: From First Points to Podium Hopes


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