Brown: My right-hand man will sort the drivers out

Over the years McLaren have been notoriously bad at introducing young promising drivers only to see them fail and as a result, get booted out, Zak Brown has identified this as a serious problem and has tasked his “right-hand man” Gil de Ferran to improve the development of their young drivers.

It must be said that long before Brown’s time, McLaren were notorious for taking on talented young drivers and spitting them out when they ‘failed’ to cut it, as was the case with Stoffel Vandoorne most recently. Heikki Kovalainen, Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen were all victims of a driver programme that was broken.

The team failed these drivers with Kovalainen the only one of the trio to go backwards with his career when he departed McLaren.

Speaking to RaceFans, Brown acknowledged their shortcomings in this are, “We recognise that someone like Stoffel is an extremely good race car driver and for whatever reason, it didn’t work out.”

“We take some responsibility for that and want to understand why this driver with such a great pedigree didn’t work out. We don’t want to replicate that, where we may have got that wrong or contributed to that lack of success.”

Earlier this year Brown tapped into the skillsets of his pal De Ferran to replace Eric Boullier, a move that raised some eyebrows in the paddock as some suggested a “jobs for pals” scenario at Woking as part of the “Zak and Gil Show” which is what they are referred to in the trenches.

Indeed this is reportedly the case across the board at the MTC, with a number of Brown’s former associates following him to McLaren which, by all accounts, tends to be common practice (in sport) when a coup d’equipe takes place.

Next year 19-year-old Lando Norris, a driver Brown helps manage, steps up to the plate alongside Carlos Sainz as the once mighty F1 powerhouse take to the track next season with their least experienced driver line-up ever, which hardly augurs well for them in the wake of the Vandoorne and other failures.

But at the same time, they could have another Lewis Hamilton on their hands, once upon a time their rookie who became mega-good in their care and got even better when he departed.

But Brown is adamant that De Ferran has what it takes to reverse the trend, “One of his many roles is effectively my right-hand man in all things McLaren Racing as sporting director.”

“One of the things that I would recognise is I think we need some additional racers in the McLaren family. If you look at Gil’s pedigree first and foremost as a driver, the as an IndyCar team owner, and as a sports car owner, he’s got a well-rounded understanding having won championships with Roger Penske what success looks like from many different aspects including sitting in the cockpit.”

“One of [de Ferran’s] primary roles is to make sure that everyone gels including the driver and so he’ll be spending time both with Lando and Carlos [Sainz Jnr] making sure that we give them the best environment to work in,” added the McLaren team boss.