‘There was inappropriate language’: McLaren boss reveals Martin Brundle advice

McLaren dropped to P5 in the 2022 Constructors' Championship, after ending the year behind Alpine.

2022 was a mixed season for McLaren, with the Woking-based side having been dragged into a season-long fight with Alpine for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship.

Despite Lando Norris’ best efforts, the British side fell short of P4 and had to settle for fifth place, a place lower than they managed in 2021.

The new aerodynamic regulations haven’t been the kindest to McLaren, with the team having rarely challenged the top five, due to the gap between the frontrunners and the midfield.

Norris was actually the only midfield driver to claim a podium in 2022, after finishing third at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

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Whilst Norris performed impeccably once again, on the other side of the McLaren garage, Daniel Ricciardo struggled.

The Aussie struggled to the extent where his contract for 2023 was terminated, with the historic team having opted to sign fellow Australian Oscar Piastri.

Signing Piastri was no easy feat by McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, who had to fight Alpine for the 2021 F2 World Champion.

To get the Aussie’s signature Brown had to go to the FIA’s Contract Recognition Board, with Alpine having been adamant that Piastri was theirs for 2023.

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To sign the highly rated driver, it appears that Brown applied advice he was given by ex-F1 driver Martin Brundle, to be “pretty competitive and tough”.

“It has been an exciting year, I hope next year is a little less exciting,” said Brown on the Marshall Pruett Podcast.

“When I took over running McLaren, my background is I worked with all these teams and leagues, lots of them.

“And in the business I was in before, I also needed to be a bit of Switzerland, because I was doing business with everyone and there wasn’t a competitive element if you’d like between me and the various teams.

“And I remember my first year at Spa, Martin Brundle gave me some advice, and it stuck with me.

“There was inappropriate language, so I won’t repeat exactly what he said, but he effectively told me that I was going to have to change my style from being everyone’s friend in pit-lane, to being pretty competitive and tough.

“And it was interesting because I’ve got an immense amount of respect for all the teams we race against, including some of those that I haven’t necessarily gotten along with, I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for what they and their teams have accomplished.

“I also know that very few, very competitive people are trying to take drivers from you, and sponsors and staff and it’s a very competitive sport, on and off the track.

“And so, I think if you look at those that have had the most success, they make big, tough decisions. And especially as you’re kind of coming up the ranks, they’re quite stable and have been around for a long time.

“We’ve got to get our best driver line-ups put together and that means we’ve got to do what we think is in our best interest and is correct, but maybe isn’t popular.

“I’m trying to build the most exciting racing team that the fans adore, and our partners. And our competition, we want to beat just like they want to beat us.

“So I also try and be very transparent, I recognise not everything I say, everyone’s going to agree with or like, but I put it out there and make my position known.

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“I can tell you there’s a lot of people that don’t operate as transparently, so I’m just trying to do what’s best for McLaren, get us as competitive as possible as quickly as possible and everything that we do, do the right things and don’t be afraid.

“If you’re going to try and race with the big boys in the sport, you’re going to have to sometimes get in there and do a little bit of arm wrestling.

“It’s certainly not how I’d like every year to go, but if we’ve got to make a few tough decisions along the way to get us to a place where we’ve elevated our game, I want to be judged on my results in five, 10 years time, not next week.”