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McLaren aiming to be title contenders by 2025

McLaren aiming to be title contenders by 2025

McLaren is Formula One’s ultimate sleeping giant, but team CEO Zak Brown thinks it will have all the tools in place to compete for championships by 2025.

Daniel Ricciardo‘s 2021 Italian Grand Prix win is McLaren’s only victory since the final race of the 2012 season, while the team’s last drivers’ championship was won by a baby-faced Lewis Hamilton in his sophomore F1 season, 2008.

McLaren’s long-awaited new wind tunnel will be completed midway through 2023 — after delays and complications stemming in part from the COVID-19 pandemic — and Brown thinks it will be the final piece in the puzzle.

“I think we’re two to three years away,” Brown told ESPN ahead of the new season. “I’d love this year to look like ’21, mixing it up with the top three. But we still don’t have all of our technology infrastructure in place.

“By ’24, we will have had it in place but not for the entire development of the ’24 car. So ’24 I’d like to think would be a good step forward, where I think we could be mixing it up on a more regular basis.

“Then in ’25 we have everything we need — drivers, people, resources, wind tunnel, simulator. There’s no reason why, on paper, we shouldn’t be in a position to be challenging at the front on a regular basis by ’25. That’s certainly our ambition.”

He added: “There were some investments we would make as a Formula One team that we chose not to make, because we made them into our wind tunnel. So it’s just not been an optimal operating situation, which will change here middle of the year.”

On paper, 2022 might have looked like a step backward from McLaren’s steady progress since Brown became CEO. The team slipped from fourth to fifth behind midfield rivals Alpine in the championship, which was the team’s worst finish since 2018.

A difficult start and the poor form of Ricciardo, which led to the Australian’s early departure from the team one year before his contract expired, contributed to the team’s drop in the championship but Brown believes it has grown as a race operation.

“In a positive year there’s learnings and there’s failures along the way. I think we’re a better racing team today than we were a year ago. That’s positive. I look at the way we started ’22 with our brake issue in Bahrain. … It was iffy if we were even going to race in Bahrain. So the positive of that was I was impressed at how the team reacted, how quickly they fixed the problem.


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