Brown says latest regulations 'need time to bed in'


McLaren CEO Zak Brown has backed the latest changes to Formula 1's technical rules and regulations - including the return of ground effect aerodynamics - that were brought in at the start of the 2022 season.

However he admits that they need 'time to bed', after the changes - aiming at making on-track racing more exciting and producing a level playing field - ended up with the season being dominated by three teams.

Over 22 races, only one of the 66 podium positons went to a driver not competing for Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes. That was Lando Norris, who finished in third place in the Emilia Romagna GP at Imola in April.

"The racing was great," insisted Brown in an exclusive interview with "While the season was absolutely dominated, it didn't feel like a boring season at all.

"They looked and felt a lot more exciting than the results look on on paper," he insisted, comparing it to the days when Michael Schumacher and Ferrari were in total charge during the early 2000s.

"If I go back to when Schumacher dominated, the races were a yawner from the word go, whereas these were all exciting," he said.

He pointed out that when the rules changes, it was common for one or two teams to get an early advantage but that any gaps between the teams quickly closed up over the following seasons.

"I do think the regulations need time to bed," he admitted, while stating that in his opinion "that they are good" and will prove their worth in the future.

It was an up-and-down season for McLaren as a whole. Two years ago they finished in third place in the constructors championship and won the Italian GP. But they slipped to fourth in 2021 and were piped to P14 by Alpine by 14 points in 2022.

"I think in 2021 we benefited from the rules being in place with the cars predominantly a carry over from '20," Brown speculated. "It naturally closed the field up, because we weren't the only ones to get podiums in '21."

Last year the team was also a whopping 600 points off the winning total of Red Bull, although on the positive side they were much closer to engine providers Mercedes who had struggled with porpoising issues for much of the season.

And Ferrari's recovery from a dire 2020 campaign - after the FIA stepped in over a controversial power unit - has also made things harder for the midfield teams like McLaren.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren and Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari on the drivers parade. 28.08.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14, Belgian Grand Prix, Spa Francorchamps, Belgium, Race

"Ferrari has had all the tools in place to produce the type of race car they've produced this year: the wind tunnel, they have all their equipment," Brown said.

"When I look at how quickly they rebounded [from the engine setback], they should have been there in the first place," he suggested. "They've got the drivers, they've got the budget and the technology infrastructure.

"I am not surprised Ferrari rebounded as quickly as they did. I wouldn't have expected us to be able to rebound as quickly as they have, because we are still missing some of our infrastructure.

"We've got the budget, we had a really good driver line-up, but obviously we had challenges with Daniel [Ricciardo]," Brown acknowledged.

"Lando rings the neck out of our car but we don't have the technology infrastructure yet - but our simulator and wind-tunnel [are coming in 2023]."

Brown said that the team's aim for this season was to be in the mix for a top three spot, an objective unchanged by the departure of team principal Andreas Seidl who is heading to the Sauber-operatred Alfa Romeo team.

Oscar Piastri (AUS) McLaren. 21.11.2022. Formula 1 Testing, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Monday

"Our race team is operating extremely well," Brown confirmed. "We know some of the deficit we have the pace of our car comes from not being at the top of our game with our technology infrastructure which is fortunately around the corner."

And Brown doesn't see any problems between Norris and his new rookie team mate Oscar Piastri who replaces Ricciardo in the driver line-up this season.

"Oscar is going to have a teammate that's one of the fastest drivers in the world, but I fully expect Oscar in time to challenge." he said. "I don't have any expectations or set out this is what he needs to do by this date.

"But I think Lando is as fast as anyone in F1. I think in race-winning equipment, he'd be winning races, I think probably everyone would agree with that."

Before departing the team, Seidl had also predicted that there would be no issues between the pair.

"Obviously each driver is different: different personality, different character," he said. "But it doesn't necessarily mean that one or the other type of relationship is a better or a worse one.

"In the end, the way Lando is - as a guy, as a character, as a person, as a driver - and the way we've got to know Oscar so far, I don't expect any issues."

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