McLaren's Zak Brown: 'Formula E a good business model for us'

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McLaren's Zak Brown: 'Formula E a good business model for us'

NEOM McLaren took the reins of the title-winning Mercedes-EQ squad when it entered Formula E for GEN3, adding to McLaren Racing's Formula 1, IndyCar and Extreme E entries.

Zak Brown and Ian James

The Woking-headquartered operation is steeped in history, having established itself in Formula 1 in the 1960s and since achieving 20 F1 world championship titles - the most recent of which came via a then-young driver from its motorsport stable, in Lewis Hamilton.

TEAMMATES: McLaren's new pairing on each other, expectations and their team

In the last decade, McLaren Racing has expanded to four race teams across F1, Extreme E, IndyCar and now Formula E, off the back of its 'rookie' campaign, in which the team wound up eighth in the running, with two pole positions and a podium to its name.

These teams all work in co-operation, as McLaren CEO Zak Brown suggested would be the case when the outfit announced its intentions to enter Formula E back in 2022.

Zak Brown media roundtable

'Commercially, strategically and technically key'

“McLaren Racing always seeks to compete against the best and on the leading edge of technology, providing our fans, partners and people with new ways to be excited, entertained and inspired,” said Zak Brown, McLaren Racing CEO last year. “Formula E, like all our racing series, fulfils all those criteria.

“As with all forms of the sport we participate in, Formula E has racing at the centre but will be strategically, commercially and technically additive to McLaren Racing overall. 

READ MORE: Sam Bird joins NEOM McLaren for 2023/24

“I firmly believe that Formula E will give McLaren Racing a competitive advantage through greater understanding of EV racing, while providing a point of difference to our fans, partners and people, and continuing to drive us along our sustainability pathway.”

NEOM McLaren's Sam Bird and Jake Hughes Season 10 Formula E

After a first full season in the series, Brown has doubled down.

“Formula E is a good business model for us,” he added in a recent media roundtable. "For example, with staff, we have people who have moved back and forth (between McLaren's racing programmes).

"We're trying to be the most exciting racing team in the world, give our employees lots of opportunities to move, and also give our partners the opportunity to to only be interested in certain areas."

'Creating opportunities and passing on knowledge'

“It’s about passing on knowledge but also creating opportunities for the people at McLaren Racing,” says Brown.

"When we made the announcement, a lot of our people wanted to work on the Formula E team. And I'm sure there are people on the Formula E team who would like to work in Formula 1 or the IndyCar one."

“We know that there are great opportunities not only for our partners and our fans to get in and out of our various racing activities, but also for our employees. This creates opportunities for them and for us in terms of knowledge transfer."

James: 'We want to learn from our F1 team and they want to learn from us'

“We're the only team in Formula E that is affiliated with a Formula 1 team,” says Team Principal Ian James. "Something that attracted me to joining the McLaren family was that we also have Extreme E, IndyCar and esports here, which is unrivaled in terms of portfolio.

“Still, the different team bosses do things in their own way. I have the utmost respect if they just want to focus on what they have to deliver and if they don't want to be disrupted by collaboration or knowledge sharing.

Zak Brown media roundtable

“We are very fortunate at McLaren that with Andrea Stella in Formula 1 and Gavin Ward on the IndyCar side, we have team bosses who are the exact opposite of that. We want to learn from each other. I had the privilege of seeing how they work."

"Gavin Ward has also been to Formula E. Hiroshi Imai (Director of Race Engineering) came to Formula E from Formula 1. So, we have already started exchanging knowledge and there is always something to learn from it. I think that which will be a real asset to us as an organisation and something we will continue to promote."