McLaren careful ‘not to raise expectations to an unrealistic level’

McLaren secured their first race win since 2012 at last year's Italian Grand Prix.

McLaren F1 car at 2021 Abu Dhabi GP.v1

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has cooled any expectations that the team will be fighting for the championship in 2022, insisting they still have plenty of work to do.

The Woking-based team claimed their first win since 2012 at the Italian Grand Prix in September last year through Daniel Ricciardo, while Lando Norris’ second-placed finish in the same race secured their first 1-2 since 2010.

Norris in particular has recently been highlighted as a driver who can challenge for race wins this year after out-qualifying Ricciardo 15-7 last year in the Australian’s debut season with the team.

Further, he was in contention for the race win in Russia following his maiden pole position before a strategical error in changing conditions, and finished 2021 with four podiums to his name.

However, they were a way off the pace of Red Bull and Mercedes – Formula 1’s leading two last year – and missed out on third in the Constructors’ Standings to Ferrari.

As a result, Brown is not of the opinion that the British team should be looking at a title challenge this year.

“I think it’s great we won our first race [in 2021 but] we need to be careful not to raise expectations to an unrealistic level,” he said in conversation with Gulf Business.

“I don’t want to say our goal in 2022 is to win two [races] – our goal is to continue to get closer to the front of the field. Of course, we’re going to give it everything we’ve got.”

McLaren CEO Zak Brown at the 2021 Saudi Arabian GP.v1

It is no secret that McLaren have had to traverse financial hurdles over the course of the last two years, and Brown recognises that they have some catching up to do.

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“We still have technical infrastructure that we’re catching up on, most notably our windtunnel.

“I’m not going into next year [2022] thinking we’re going to be a championship contender.”

The eight-time constructors’ champions have big partnerships with the likes of Richard Mille and Dell Technologies, but unlike Aston Martin, they don’t have any name partners.

The American is adamant that a title sponsor is not necessary.

“We’re ahead of our business plan as far as where we want to be with our corporate partner portfolio to elegantly sell the car – you don’t want to turn [the car] into a patch of logos,” he explained.

“Ultimately, we have a big partner on the side, and the rear wing.

“We’re not actively pursuing a title sponsor in our business plan and that is a conscious, deliberate decision that I made when we started.

“I’d rather not have all my eggs in one basket because our partners contribute a lot to our business growth and our brand. We’re not averse to having a title partner, but the way we’ve built our commercial proposition, we don’t need one.”

McLaren are set to reveal the 2022 car they hope will launch them a little closer to the front of the grid on 11 February.