Racing outside F1 gives McLaren “commercial advantage” – Brown

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In the round-up: McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says the team’s expansion into IndyCar and other motorsport series makes it more attractive to sponsors.

In brief

McLaren Racing expansion boosts income – Brown

McLaren’s racing activities beyond F1 enjoyed success on-track at the weekend as driver Patricio O’Ward moved into the the IndyCar championship lead by taking his fifth podium finish of the season at Gateway.

The team will also enter the second season of Extreme E and is considering a move into Formula E. Brown said diversifying its efforts beyond F1 enhances its attractiveness to sponsors without diluting its competitiveness.

“We’re a large racing team knocking on 900 people,” Brown explained. “When we get involved in other forms of motorsports – IndyCar, we announced an Extreme E team, we have esports – ultimately, we have different individuals on each individual team to make sure that they’re not distracted because you need to be 100 percent committed to whatever your racing activity is. Some of the resources that we can share are more technical knowledge, knowhow, equipment, things of that nature.

“So we’re very comfortable that when we get involved in other forms of motor racing that we make sure that they all kind of stand alone commercially. We very much operate as one family, as witnessed by Arrow, as witnessed by BAT, you’ve got Darktrace on both of our racing teams, Tezos, the list goes on. So I think it’s a real commercial advantage for us and more importantly our partners that we have a breadth and depth of racing opportunities which partners can come in and utilise the McLaren platform to build their business.”

Fernando Alonso, McLaren, IndyCar, Indianapolis, 2019
McLaren’s 2019 IndyCar effort was a disaster
However Brown admitted his efforts to expand their racing activities nearly suffered a fatal blow when the car it entered for Fernando Alonso at the 2019 Indianapolis 500 failed to qualify.

“We have a rich history in Indianapolis. It’s something that, when I joined McLaren, one of the things I discussed with the shareholders was expanding our racing portfolio in time.

“That started with Fernando Alonso in 2017. It almost ended with Fernando Alonso in 2019! But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and when you race and you crash, you dust yourself off and you get back in the race car.”

Shocking near-miss at Le Mans

Kamui Kobayashi, who made his Formula 1 debut with Toyota in 2009, scored his first Le Mans 24 Hours victory for the manufacturer yesterday, with team mates Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez.

However the conclusion of the race saw a shocking near-miss: The chequered flag waver, who was standing in the middle of the track, narrowly avoided behind hit by Robin Frijns’ car. The LMP2 class winner, who shared his WRT machine with Charles Milesi and Ferdinand Habsburg, was sprinting to the finish, coming home just 0.7 seconds ahead of the JOTA machine of Stoffel Vandoorne, Sean Gelael and Tom Blomqvist.

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Comment of the day

Is the budget cap going to make it even harder for new drivers to get into Formula 1?

F1 should be a race of champions, and the absolute top of motorsport. And while Tsunoda showed something in the second half of his F2 campaign, it all feels a bit too rushed and his racing record isn’t particularly stellar. And seeing him failing is not pleasant at all as the pressure keeps piling on him, he doesn’t look ready for it unfortunately.

I wonder though whether this trend will continue in a cost cap-limited era. Crashes will cost even more and betting on experienced drivers could be a sensible choice?

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On this day in motorsport

  • On this day in 1987 Didier Pironi died in a powerboat crash along with crew members Bernard Giroux and Jean-Claude Guenard. Pironi’s F1 career ended five years earlier after he suffered serious leg injuries in a crash at the Hockenheimring.

Author information

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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  • 22 comments on “Racing outside F1 gives McLaren “commercial advantage” – Brown”

    1. That LMP2 finish was awesome and terrifying at the same time. Might be the last year of a flag bearer on track given today’s safety standards. Was common in the 60s/70s but seems out of place today.
      And hoo boy, the poor 41 LMP2 :(

      1. In most years, the finish is quite relaxed as there aren’t any really close battles and people are just nursing the car making sure they finish. It provides a good photo op for the winners too. It would be a shame to lose that tradition, which is normally not a problem at all.

        Given how close that battle was though, and that it was for a class victory, you would think someone would have had the sense to tell the flag waver to stand well to the side, or even stay on the gantry. Even without knowing the leader had broken down, a battle for 2nd and 3rd should have been enough to be told not to stand in the middle of the track!

      2. @nanotech , @f1hornet

        I felt gutted for Kubica, watching them on the last lap leading Le Mans heading to the finish line to take the win but then no, the car slows down and stops on the track. Cant imagine the emotions they went through.

        Agree about the flag bearer, watching it live on tv, cars overlapped coming out of the turn at full speed with more cars right behind needing to pass and shoot the line to get on the podium; I really thought there was going to be one of the worst tragic accidents in motor racing seen on TV, good thing that Ferrari that was shooting out to pass on the inside saw the flag bearer and quickly went back up the track and averted hitting him. Perhaps Toyota making a PR parade lap going r slow the finish exasperated the situation?

        I can’t imagine FIA being one bit happy about it?

    2. poor Kubica, really, they had it in the bag

      1. @alfa145 I also feel for him.

    3. As big as the 24 Hour of LeMans are, there was little mention on RaceFans.
      Only a side mention prior to the race for Alonsos demo run and the mention of the near miss but nothing as far as the race or the new Hypercar designs.
      It feeld like any motorsport except for F1 and more recently Indycar is not worth it anymore on here. Given that we were in the Summer break, there was an opportunity to cover other series.

      1. Jack (@jackisthestig)
        23rd August 2021, 4:47

        I was thinking the same. I know most of the focus is quite rightly on F1 but given the number of stand-alone articles on IndyCar and Formula E I was surprised Le Mans has had so little coverage.

        I wasn’t expecting much from this year’s race with a such dominant Toyota racing against two under-developed Glickenhaus and old Rebellion but I enjoyed the race. As an F1 fan there were so many old familiar faces to follow in LMP2, the last-lap heartbreak for Kubica was almost as shocking as how chubby Juan Pablo Montoya looked in a set of tight white overalls. Talking of Montoya, while he hasn’t achieved the ‘triple crown’ he has now won the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500 twice, three Daytona 24 hours and a class win at Le Mans, that’s seriously impressive!

        1. In regards to Montoya I find it surprising that with two legs of the Triple Crown he has never gotten an LMP1/Hypercar drive to compete for the Le Mans overall win and complete the triple crown. Hopefully he gets an opportunity in one of Acura/Porsche/BMW/Audi/etc. when they join LMH/LMDh in the next few years (thats if he actually is interested in the Le Mans win for the triple crown anyway)

          1. There was talk that if Cadillac enters LMDh, Montoya will 100% be in that car.

      2. Agreed. It is one of the “Big Three” and no coverage of the race itself. A bit disappointing. The chaotic first hour, the success of the first year of hypercars (all finished the race), LMP2 drama all race. Track limits discussions (boo!). The gear boxes on the Toyotas being problematic most of the race. Etc.

      3. I don’t think it’s just RaceFans. I struggled to find any real news and certainly couldn’t find any TV coverage in Aus.

        You’d think after last year the organisers would want to maximise exposure, but it seemed to be heavily restricted to some strange “providers”.

        Love to know the full story behind that.

        1. Ummmm… no problem for me in Qld. On Youtube with English commentators [one of whom was Oliver Gavin + another who had actually competed in the race].

          Also disappointed with Racefans lack of coverage, given the races status & quality of drivers, a number of ex-F1 drivers.
          The feels – Paul DiResta taken out by a ‘Maldonado’

      4. @us-brian RaceFans is fairly unapologetically a site dedicated to single-seater motorsports, so it’s unsurprising that Le Mans doesn’t get much coverage.

      5. I figure the issue is really making sure that you have something real to add, which means having someone there to report on it. Or put together a team to cover it on a live blog for the whole race.

        Not sure the people are there to make that happen. At least not this year.

      6. I totally agree. It made sense when the site was F1 Fanatic, but it then very deliberately changed its branding without really committing much to other motorsports. I find it really odd (on any site) that there’s room for mundane non-stories between F1 events like ‘‘I’m still on a steep learning curve’, says Schumacher’, yet other series like Le Mans or MotoGP get so little coverage (the 2- and 4-wheel divide is so weird).

        I suspect there is the matter of resources being an independent fan site, and I can see Indycar and FE get a bit more attention these days. I come to F1 Fana…, sorry, RaceFans because the articles themselves are typically unbiased, independent and high quality, but I don’t think it’s living up to it’s branding at the moment.

      7. Le Mans and the WEC were previously given a lot of coverage on here, with full race articles and even the “live” page. I don’t want to speak for Keith & Co, but I assume it’s down to the lack of professional competition and, therefore, general fan interest. I can see why Le Mans would be a lower priority for time and resources than IndyCar or FE this season. Let’s be honest, this was probably the first WEC race many of us watched this year.

        I’m sure that if the new rules package generates as much interest as LMP1’s golden age (it has all the ingredients to) Racefans will give it the coverage that warrants.

      8. On a similar note, didn’t see anything on Rossi’s retirement which is pretty big (even if unsurprising at this point) deal in Motorsport world even if he raced on two wheels.

        A shame it wasn’t even in a roundup (correct me if I’m wrong and just missed)

    4. Waving a chequered flag on a live track while cars approach at speed is a practice that should’ve ended long ago.

      I don’t quite share COTD’s view. Concerning Tsunoda specifically, I’m sure he’ll improve and eventually stop crashing.
      I’m not worried about him for now.

      1. @jerejj I hope he can turn his form around, I may be more worried by Red Bull’s bad habits actually. With time he can surely improve and he already showed good speed, he has now to get close to Gasly on a consistent basis.

    5. Regarding the Le Mans flag man, I can completely understand why it’s a tradition that persists. After all, the race is usually resolved before the final lap, and by that point it’s usually a ceremonial photo finish. So fair enough, it makes for a good photograph to be used by the winners in promotional material.

      But obviously, “usually” doesn’t mean “always”. It’s baffling to me that they don’t make judgement calls on this sort of thing. It wouldn’t be difficult to see a battle for a class win is still raging on, perhaps take that into account before sending a man out? By the looks of it, he had no idea that a race was still happening. I’m also surprised that none of the slowing cars ahead were warned by their teams of the rapidly approaching battle. It could so easily have been avoided with minimal common sense.

      By all means Le Mans, keep your traditions, but man alive, use your brains.

      1. I think in this case part of the problem were the teams were lining themselves up to be in the finish picture. Toyota staged their cars to finish together for a finish line photo which added to the congestion at the finish line. Other teams were also jockeying for position to be just out of frame for the Toyotas but still finish strong which just added more congestion. And then you had the LMP2 battle which caught up all that traffic moving off the normal race pace.

        1. Agreed – the photo finish is not uncommon to stage, but having the flag bearer on track when there was still heated competition for LMP2 1st place was poor form. Unlucky timing but it can happen!

          Fortunately we’re only talking about the 41 stopping, and not a dead marshal!!!

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