McLaren MCL35 launch. McLaren Technology Centre, 2020

‘The first thing we need to do is not go backwards’ – Brown

2020 F1 season

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McLaren intends to cut the gap to the top three teams after finishing last year in fourth place, but group CEO Zak Brown is wary of falling back into the clutches of the midfield.

The team presented its new MCL35 today, which is the first car the team has produced since Brown installed Andreas Seidl as team principal and James Key as technical director.

“My role is to get the right people in the right place and get them the right resources,” said Brown. “And I think ever since we started making changes, we’ve accomplished that.

“We made a pretty good car last year that got stronger over the second part of the year. And [we] put that down to everybody, but a lot of leadership from Andreas and James. I think as the car got more competitive, it wasn’t a coincidence, it was when they started to get stuck into things.

McLaren moved up from sixth to fourth in the championship last year, but rivals Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull were far ahead in the final standings. Brown said he can see real change in the team, but he is realistic about how far they can close the gap to their rivals.

“Now we’ve got our new race car, which is the first time we’ve kind of had everyone in place,” he said. “And I think Andreas has brought a lot of clarity to how he wants to see the Formula 1 team run. That’s been very well received. It’s a nice environment to walk around the factory and the racetrack. It’s got a real team feeling.

“So I’m excited. That being said, the gap to third is still very big in Formula 1 terms. And so I think we have to be realistic that we hope to close that gap. The first thing we need to do is not go backwards and that in itself isn’t easy because we’ve got great competition in the midfield.”

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2020 F1 season

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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9 comments on “‘The first thing we need to do is not go backwards’ – Brown”

  1. McLaren will sure take RedBull’s place in Abiteboul’s nightmares.

    Same engine, similar budget, good pair of drivers but still much different results.

    1. This is exactly why F1 is right to at least encourage teams to build their own car.

  2. This year seems to be a transitional year, as McLaren only needs to close the gap slightly to top 3 and build on their upwords trend as a team without rocking the boat too hard or spending excesively. Next year, when they go back to Mercedes power coupled with the massive rule changes, that’s when they can properly fight again for podiums.

  3. “Not go backwards” – brilliant goal for a race car. Brown is transparently trying to set low expectations so if McLaren show zero improvement he can remind us of their goal. Of course, if the other teams go forwards then…oh never mind.

    1. Its better than a few years ago when they said they had the best chassis on the grid.

      I like whats happened at Mclaren. They’ve taken a step back and taken a holistic approach to solving their issues. They admitted they had massive structural issues and set about to fix it. Brown has been given the authority to dismantle the dysfunction that was borne out of the latter years of the Ron-Whitmarsh axis.

      Landing Andreas Seidl was pivotal. In years to come, it will be looked upon as the inflection point in Mclaren’s history.

      1. Yep @jaymenon10, I agree. And also he actually started with wanting to close the gap to the front a bit this year.

        But as he is right that the midfield is close together, and Haas for example might be back this year, not forgetting your rear seems a good idea if you don’t want to be backing into your competition!

      2. There is changed a lot last year and they looking forward. it was great to see the positive spirit at MTC yesterday at the launch. I was one of the happy few fans who was there. Looking forward to a great season.

  4. As always Zak makes all the right noises. Now andreas will be accountable the same goes for James. Mclaren needs to look at 2021, it might be that mercedes and renault leave, we may see mclaren mercedes back.

  5. Just need my favourite team back at the sharper end of the grid, I like their drivers and the team commitment, just need to see it pay off.

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