Zak Brown – Important Lando Norris saw big McLaren gains

McLaren’s resurgence before Formula One’s summer break was exactly what superstar driver Lando Norris needed to see the team was capable of doing, CEO Zak Brown has said.

After starting the season in a dismal position, McLaren’s Austrian Grand Prix upgrade pushed the team up the competitive order helped Norris to podiums at the following races in Great Britain and Hungary.

The British team went into the summer break looking like the next best team behind runaway championship leaders Red Bull.

Norris, 23, is under contract with McLaren until 2025 but there has been speculation of a move elsewhere given the team’s struggles to compete at the front of the F1 grid since he joined in 2019.

Brown said it was vital for Norris to see those results before the break, which comes to an end with the Dutch Grand Prix on Aug. 27.

“I think it’s been massively important for all of us. It shows we can do it,” Brown told ESPN.

“That being said, we haven’t won one with [Norris] yet. He loves McLaren, it’s been his family, so there’s no doubt in my mind is his number one choice is to win a world championship with McLaren. I think the best thing we do to retain him is to demonstrate to him we’re a team capable of doing that.

“It’s not a case of wooing him or not wooing him, it’s about giving him a car where he can look himself in the mirror and say ‘I think I can win a world championship with this team’.”

Since late last year, Brown has been carefully restructuring the team behind the scenes.

When former team boss Andreas Seidl left for Sauber’s Alfa Romeo team, he was replaced by Andrea Stella, who has restructured the team’s technical department.

Technical boss James Key left shortly after the start of the year and was replaced by a new committee, which will eventually include David Sanchez (formerly of Ferrari) and Rob Marshall (formerly of Red Bull).

The team has also recently opened its long-awaited windtunnel at its Woking headquarters, meaning it no longer has to use Toyota’s facility in Cologne, Germany.

“We’re in it now,” Brown said of the windtunnel. “Coming out of the summer break, we’re in it.

“We now have everything in place and just need some more time to mature. So the windtunnel’s here, the simulator’s here, the manufacturing unit is open.”

With those boxes now ticked, Brown believes McLaren has nothing Norris or anyone else would think is holding it back going into the next two seasons, which lead into the big rules change planned for the 2026 campaign.

“We’ve got our team in place. It’s stable. We have additional talent coming to be additive to what we currently have. We have all the financial resources we need.

“It’s just going to take a little bit of time so as long as we can show this progress… ’26 is going to be a huge reset for this sport and there’s not going to be any excuses for us. We have everything we need from resources, people, two great drivers, all the technology, infrastructure.

“As long as [Norris] continues to see our pace and development then I think he’ll have all the confidence in the world that this team’s won 20 world championships and have everything they need, look at the momentum.

“You look down the grid, there’s as many unknowns about ’26. Red Bull with a new engine, how’s that going to be? They’ve never done that before. There’s all sorts of variables going on there and I think our story is as good as anyone’s.”

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