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Commercial reasons not a factor in driver choice, insists Brown

NEWS STORY
21/07/2022

McLaren boss, Zak Brown insists that the ability to win, as opposed to commercial factors, remains the prime factor when it comes to choosing drivers.

While Daniel Ricciardo says he is "committed" to McLaren, the fact is that as the Australian tries to rediscover the form that attracted him to the Woking team in the first place, there are an increasing number of elephants in the room. Furthermore, those elephants are all successful IndyCar drivers.

First there was Pato O'Ward, then came Colton Herta, who enjoyed a two-day test with the team in Portugal last week, as the team recruited 2021 champion Alex Palou.

With an eye on Brown's previous comments in terms of Ricciardo's failure to "live up to expectations", Pitpass wasn't alone in wondering if the American sponsorship guru might have an agenda.

With an American media company now at the wheel of F1, Las Vegas about to become the United States third race and the growing popularity of the sport in its owners backyard - which was surely always the intention - the only thing missing is an American driver or at least a driver known to American race fans.

Ignoring the fact that Liberty bosses have never really accepted Haas as an American team, while we await a decision on Andretti, F1's need for an American driver is paramount.

However, despite the obvious demand for an American driver, Brown insists that he would never make a driver choice base on commercial reasons.

"We're very serious about anyone we put in our Formula 1 car," he tells the F1 Nation podcast, referring to Herta's recent test. The fact that he's American is great, but we lead with performance.

"Nationality is on the list," he adds, "but we would never select a driver for commercial reasons first.

"The first gate to get through is, do we think this driver is world champion, Grand Prix-winning capable?" he says of the team's selection process. "And if the answer to that is yes, then we continue to proceed.

"If they happen to be British, because we're a British team, or American, because that's an important market, or from Asia, because that's an important market, it's kind of a commercial bonus," he admits.

"But first and foremost, we're here to win races, that's what our sponsor partners want. And yes, he's been very impressive in IndyCar.

"He was Lando's team mate not long ago in Europe, so he has European racing background so let's give him a go and see what he's made of," he says of the thinking behind the test."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 20/07/2022 18:47

"The teams have to put ability first on all levels throughout their team, including the drivers.
As soon as there is a focus on anything else then performance will drop.

However, the problem with driver selection may come down to who makes it through from the "grass roots" of the sport due to their ability to be able to afford to keep racing through the various classes of motorsport.
It is quite revealing what the parents of some of these drivers go through to support their kids' sport such as second or third jobs, indeed, second or third mortgages on the family home.
Then there is the moving to the other side of the world (from say Australia or New Zealand going to UK / Europe) when quite young.

I do not know if there is a better system for how these drivers make it through other than relying on the cream rising to the top."

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2. Posted by Anthony, 20/07/2022 11:05

"I think Daniel’s days at McLaren are numbered but I wonder if there may be other options for him elsewhere."

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3. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 20/07/2022 8:27

"With all thats being said it does appear the writing is on the wall for the honey badger."

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