Zak Brown: “There is a lot to be excited about” in 2019

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has said he believes fans of the team have “a lot to be excited about” in the 2019 season, after a challenging 2018 campaign.

McLaren finished sixth in the constructors’ championship on 62 points, with the highlight being a fifth-place in the Australian Grand Prix courtesy of Fernando Alonso. Team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne had a best finish of P8, which came in the Mexican Grand Prix.

In a year when they believed their new Renault power-unit would propel McLaren up the order, it is difficult to call 2018 anything but a disappointment for them.

“2018 was a difficult year,” Zak Brown said, “but one where we’ve implemented a lot of change. We’ve learned a lot, we understand the mistakes we’ve made, and we’ve worked hard to make sure we don’t replicate those moving forward. We did finish sixth in the championship, so on paper it was a step forward from 2017, but it certainly wasn’t a season of the calibre that anyone at McLaren or our fans would have expected.”

Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain.
Tuesday 27 February 2018. Zak Brown
World Copyright: Steven Tee/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _R3I3944

Brown is optimistic about the team’s chances in 2019 though, highlighting in particular the numerous personnel changes they have made. “We’ve brought in Gil de Ferran,” he said, “who brings an unusual mix of a racer’s instinct with strategic acumen, promoted Andrea Stella to lead our performance development and analysis group, brought back Pat Fry as engineering director to lead the design of the MCL34, and of course appointed James Key as our technical director to give us the singular technical leadership that has been missing.”

Speaking of the development of their 2019 car, Brown added, “Everyone is working extremely hard. We have a good understanding of what we need to do to improve our race car. The changes we’ve made over the last five or six months, both in our structure and leadership, are already in play and beginning to take effect.

“We need to get back to the basics, come out with a stronger car next year, and continue on the rebuilding journey to get us back to winning races. 2019 should be another step forward in that direction.”

With Fernando Alonso retiring from F1 and Stoffel Vandoorne moving to Formula E, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris will be driving for McLaren next year. Sainz made the move to McLaren from Renault, whilst Norris will be making his F1 debut.


Featured image – Mark Sutton/McLaren

Boullier resigns as McLaren race director

Eric Boullier has resigned from his post as McLaren’s race director, as part of a “leadership restructure” announced by the team ahead of the British Grand Prix.

Boullier had been facing pressure over his role this season as McLaren continued to struggle for performance despite switching from Honda to Renault power for 2018. When questioned at the French Grand Prix, Boullier insisted that he wouldn’t step down, although his departure with immediate effect has now been confirmed by the team.

In the announcement Boullier said: “I am proud to have worked with such a brilliant team over the past four years, but I recognise now is the right time for me to step down.

“I want to wish everyone at McLaren the best for the remainder of the season and for the future.”

Steven Tee/McLaren

As well as Boullier’s resignation, McLaren’s restructuring sees the team’s chief operating officer Simon Roberts move to oversee production, engineering and logistics, and Andrea Stella being appointed trackside performance director.

McLaren has also created the new role of sporting director—concerned with “[maximising] the effectiveness of the team’s racing package”—for former Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said these changes are in response to “systemic and structural” problems with McLaren’s management, “which require major change from within” to correct.

In a statement, Brown said: “With today’s announcement, we start to address those issues and take the first step on our road to recovery.”

Featured image courtesy of Steven Tee/McLaren