Zak Brown says the McLaren F1 Team do not yet have the infrastructure in place to be genuine championship contenders in 2022, but he hopes they can be in a position to win races this year.
New aerodynamic and tyre regulations come into effect this year and is expected to close up the field, but Brown, the CEO at McLaren, reckons the timing is far from ideal for them with their new wind tunnel still a couple of years away and other parts of the company going through a rebuilding period.
Daniel Ricciardo took their first victory since 2012 in last years Italian Grand Prix just ahead of team-mate Lando Norris, and Brown hopes that they can at least repeat that feat in 2022, with their ultimate aim to be more competitive than they were in 2021.
“I don’t think (the championship is a realistic target),” said Brown to RACER. “As far as a title contender we’re still catching up on our infrastructure and specifically our wind tunnel, and it’s such a critical element of car development that we are hindered there.
“It is what it is, we’ll do the best we can but we fell behind on our infrastructure quite a bit. Now, even though we’ve bought everything, it’s taking time to implement and the wind tunnel is still a couple of years away.
“So, can we win a race? We won one last year convincingly, almost two. I don’t want to get into race predictions — I don’t want to do what Aston did and say, ‘You haven’t seen anything yet’ and then they went totally backwards!
“Our goal is to be more competitive than we were last year. That’s our goal.”
The result at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza was the only time any team took a one-two finish during the 2021 season, a fact that surprises Brown, particularly with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team fielding Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, and Red Bull Racing having Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez.
“It is crazy, given the quality of when (Valtteri) Bottas turns it on and (Sergio) Perez turns it on, I’m surprised we’re the only ones that had a one-two,” said Brown.