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Exclusive: Brown on Red Bull coup and McLaren F1 success timeline

When can McLaren return to the top of the F1 pecking order? CEO Zak Brown spoke exclusively to RacingNews365.com to lay out his plans for success.

To news overview © XPBimages

McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes that the team needs "a little bit of time" to allow infrastructural and personnel upgrades to take full effect and return the team to the top of the F1 pecking order.

The Woking-based outfit has won just one race since 2013 and despite making gains at the beginning of the current decade, the newest set of technical regulations has sparked a slow decline.

A new wind tunnel has long been in the pipeline and will finally be operational this year as well as other upgrades in and around the McLaren Technology Centre, whilst changes have been made within its ranks to ensure the best personnel are in the best roles to achieve success.

Speaking exclusively to RacingNews365.com, Brown explained: “What I need, and I believe we have visibility to what's coming, we need two good racing drivers and we have got that, you need technology infrastructure and that is going to be here by the end of the year - we have been talking about it for years but it is finally… the wind tunnel is down there, the simulator is down there. We have a new manufacturing unit.

"So you need new technology infrastructure, which we were far behind on. That takes years and then we had Covid, so you stop production. So that will be here by the end of the year."

Culture and leadership

David Sanchez has headlined the staff changes in recent months with the former Ferrari man joining as Technical Director, Car Concept from 2024 as part of a new-look hierarchy led by Team Principal Andrea Stella.

"You need the right people," added Brown.

"I think we have 97 per cent the right people but we need the last three per cent, which are coming in: The David Sanchez's… we have got around 15 new hires that have either started or are sprinkling in over the next 12 months.

"The last thing you need is a great culture and leadership. I have got that with Andrea. You just need time. You look at Red Bull and the guys have been there for 17 years, you look at Ferrari - it was Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne, Michael Schumacher, Stefano Domenicali, so we need a little bit of time."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

The Red Bull coup

Red Bull's Chief Engineering Officer Rob Marshall has been poached to take up the role of Technical Director for Engineering and Design from January, with more moves expected in the coming months.

"With over 25 years of experience in motorsport, Rob is an F1 championship-winning-calibre talent, and another step forward in our plan to take the team to the top.

"I got in contact with Rob, reached out to him. It happened pretty quickly. With his track record... he started the same month as Adrian Newey, clearly, there is no one better than Adrian Newey, that is a fact.

"What Andrea was looking for was how to restructure the team for optimal performance and was of the view you want subject matter expertise sitting in the three core disciplines.

"His view is a single technical director - this isn't a James Key thing - you are only as good as your weakest link. So the view is 'I want the best guy in aero, I want the best guy in concept, the best guy in engineering.

"We rate [Peter] Prodromu very highly on aero. David Sanchez, the last two times there have been rule changes, the Ferrari has come out of the gates with a fast car.

"Rob is like a big kid around racing cars, he is totally immersed and energetic. What he did with the mass damper... everything I am hearing about him is he is very clever and sharp so I think getting the structure right, Andrea being a technical Team Principal who is a great leader, communicator and understands the business is the right leader to have this three-person technical team who we think are all best in class at what they do.

"If I look at that top table, I don't see any weak links. If I look and think 'do I think that team can collectively lead us to a World Championship?' I think they can."

Rob is an F1 championship-winning-calibre talent

- Zak Brown - McLaren CEO

Stick to the plan

The implementation of the upgrades around the race team has always been the target period for McLaren to return to consistent success and has been acknowledged by Brown, Stella, former Team Principal Andreas Seidl and lead driver Lando Norris.

Setting out a clear timeline for McLaren's journey to the top, Brown said: "I will have everything in place by this time next year, which really means we won’t be at full strength until the 2025 season.

"Even though the new wind tunnel and the new manufacturing and all that will be online at the end of the year, we are already working on our ‘24 car - even though David, who I think will have a great influence, he doesn’t start until January and our car is already going.

"If you look at the trajectory we are on, we have hit a speedbump in ‘23, we are working on it. We should see a gradual improvement. ‘24 should be another step forward because we have more than what we have today, and ‘25, we have everything we need other than the time it takes to build a culture and people gelling.

"That is the journey we are on and now we just need to ride the highs and lows of motor racing results, keep our heads down, not get too high, not get too low and stick to the plan.”

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