Zak Brown says it was a logical decision to opt to switch from Renault to Mercedes-Benz power for the 2021 Formula 1 season, with the move made early enough to give them as much time possible to adapt.
With Formula 1 set for one of its biggest overhauls of regulations in 2021, McLaren made the decision to leave Renault after the 2020 season after three years together to make a return to Mercedes, who they previously partnered with between 1995 to 2014.
McLaren made a switch to Honda power in 2015, but their three-year alliance was a disaster, with a further move to Renault coming in 2018. 2019 saw a big jump in performance, with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris helping the team finish fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, their best result in the turbo hybrid era.
Brown says it was decided that the early decision to would move back to Mercedes in 2021 gives them the opportunity to design their new car around the Mercedes power unit, and he hopes there can be some exploitation of the new rules that will see vastly different looking cars.
“Everyone’s going to be in the same boat, in the sense of 2021 is going to be such a change from 2020 that everyone’s going to be starting from a clean sheet of paper – but we’re up for it,” Brown is quoted as saying by Crash.net.
“It’s one of the reasons we made an early decision, to give ourselves as much time as possible. I think 2021’s going to be exciting for Formula 1 and for the fans because when there’s a big change like that, someone’s going to get it right; someone’s going to get it wrong.
“The trend is to converge over time but I’m excited for the 2021 season – but also excited for 2020, of course.”
Brown Praises Renault: ‘They’ve been a Fantastic Partner’
Despite having opted to leave Renault, Brown has praised their current engine partners, feeling they have helped the team make the performance jump in 2019. He was pleased with the form that the team showed with the MCL34, which included a surprise podium finish in the penultimate race of the season in Brazil for Sainz.
Sainz’s top three finish was the first podium result for McLaren since the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, while their points haul in 2019 of one-hundred and forty-five points was significantly more than they had scored in any of the four previous campaigns.
“I think it’s been a big achievement, given where we’ve been the last couple of years,” said Brown. “I think the team’s done an excellent job, both at the factory and at the track. Everyone is contributing.
“Renault has played a big part in us getting more competitive again. They’ve been a fantastic partner. Drivers are doing a very good job, bringing the car home and in the points often, so it’s certainly been a pleasure racing this year, when I look back to Abu Dhabi last year.”