Brown: It’s going to be unbelievably competitive

Zak Brown is upbeat about the future for McLaren, but is wary of their Formula 1 rivals ahead of the 2021 season which the McLaren CEO thinks will be unbelievably competitive.

The Woking outfit are on the up with Andreas Seidl at the helm of the F1 race team, Mercedes engines for the first time since 2014 and proven race winner Daniel Ricciardo slotting in alongside young gun Lando Norris.

The team are locked and loaded for the season ahead, but they are under no illusions of the challenges that lie ahead.

Speaking to Xinhua for the Malaysian Sun, Brown said, “I think 2021 is going to look a lot like 2020. All those teams in third to seventh took a turn at being the third-quickest team at some point over the year, so I think it’s going to be unbelievably competitive.

“We could find ourselves closer to Mercedes, which is what we hope to accomplish, but slipping to fifth in the championship, so it’s going to be too close to call. Where will we finish? Who knows, but I’m confident we’ll have a good year.”

Driver and engine change for 2021 is a big ask for any team, which the McLaren boss acknowledged, “Any time you’re making a substantial change, you run the risk of reliability and installation, and just understanding the transition.

“Compounding that with the reduction in testing, we are excited but also nervous that we’re going into the season with the least amount of time we’re allowed to prepare on track. It’s not ideal, but I feel we’re well prepared.”

As for the long term of Formula 1 future, the debate regarding fuel-based power units versus electric is one that faces the sport, which Brown touched on.

“I think everyone is still debating. Is it electric? Is it some form of hybrid? Is it even hydrogen?

“What I’m comfortable in is that F1 will continue to develop in whichever way the world goes. I’m not worried about whether F1 will be out of date in ten years. F1 always moves with the times,” insisted Brown.