Will Norris be the driver to end Verstappen’s F1 reign?

McLaren CEO Zak Brown believes his team will be in a position to fight for F1 world titles by 2025. 
(L to R): Max Verstappen (NLD) Red
(L to R): Max Verstappen (NLD) Red

McLaren slipped behind midfield rivals Alpine as they finished fifth in the F1 2022 constructors’ championship but the team’s long-term ambition is to return to fighting at the very front of the grid. 

But with a brand new wind tunnel set to be completed by mid-2023, Brown is confident McLaren can make the required step to become championship challengers in “two-to-three years”. 

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Lewis Hamilton’s maiden F1 title win in 2008 remains McLaren’s last championship success. 

“I think we're two to three years away," Brown told ESPN. “I'd love this year to look like '21, mixing it up with the top three. But we still don't have all of our technology infrastructure in place.

"By '24, we will have had it in place but not for the entire development of the '24 car. So '24 I'd like to think would be a good step forward, where I think we could be mixing it up on a more regular basis.

"Then in '25 we have everything we need - drivers, people, resources, wind tunnel, simulator. There's no reason why, on paper, we shouldn't be in a position to be challenging at the front on a regular basis by '25. That's certainly our ambition.”

Brown’s prediction will be welcomed by Lando Norris, who has committed his future to McLaren on a deal running until the end of 2025. 

But Norris may have to dethrone Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who has won the last two drivers’ crowns, in order to achieve his goal.

Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL36 and Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21,
Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL36 and Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing…

Despite the setbacks of a below-par 2022 and losing former team principal Andreas Seidl to Sauber earlier than planned, Brown insists there are reasons for McLaren to be positive heading into the new campaign. 

"In a positive year there's learnings and there's failures along the way,” he explained. “I think we're a better racing team today than we were a year ago. That's positive. 

“I look at the way we started '22 with our brake issue in Bahrain… It was iffy if we were even going to race in Bahrain. So the positive of that was I was impressed at how the team reacted, how quickly they fixed the problem.

"When I took over as CEO in 2016 that was coming off of the worst year in the history of McLaren, ninth, our fans were disappointed in us, morale in the factory was low, we had very little sponsorship. 

“Five years later, we've won a race, almost won another, we've had a pole, we've had nine podiums, we've been third, fourth, fifth, we've been mixing it up at the front."

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