The world of sport and media live hand in hand to keep the excitement flowing but at times they work against each other as simple comments are blown out into worldwide headlines just as was the case a month or so ago when McLaren CEO Zak Brown was quoted saying Aussie Daniel Ricciardo was not meeting the expectations of the team.
This led to headlines that Daniel’s time was up, he’d be moving to Nascar or IndyCar, we even discussed it at length on the EFTM F1 Podcast.
But this week, Fox Motorsport host Jessica Yates visited the McLaren Technology Centre and sat down with Zak Brown. The full interview will no doubt air on Fox Sports, and it covers a vast array of topics from the deep history of McLaren, Ayrton Senna’s legacy, the Porpoising issues in F1 and of course, Daniel Ricciardo.
Zak acknowledges that his comments that Daniel had not met the expectations of the team had “caused a lot of of ripples outside the team“, but his frank response today to the issue is that “Someone asked me a question, It was just an honest answer, wasn’t meant to be critical”.
He says quite simply “we’re not where we want to be – it’s the same answer Daniel would give.“
Brown is ever bullish about the team and his drivers, saying of Daniel “I know he can win us more races, we’re trying unbelievably hard”
With an important caveat – “given his (Daniel Riccardo’s) resume and how Lando’s going, do we expect him to be right next to Lando whether thats right in front or right behind? Yeah – so does he!”
His composure and demeanour during the chat isn’t that of someone looking to change his driver lineup any day soon, and he spoke of his relationship with Daniel too, telling Jessica Yates “Daniel and I have a great relationship, we had dinner in London not after that (Zak’s comments on Daniels performance) and we’re trading WhatsApp’s all the time”
Asked directly if Daniel would see out his contract which goes into and through 2023, Brown answered simply said “Oh Yeah”
Going on to say “He’s a fighter, his results since I’ve said that, though not how I intended, have been much closer to Lando and beat Lando. So maybe there was a little bit of firing him up”
“we love working with him, he loves the team, we’ve seen when we give him a car that’s capable of winning he can win it”
The bottom line from Zak Brown’s comments are that it all still relates to the car, saying “We’ve got to give him a car he’s that he’s more comfortable with”
Overall, the team’s goal – as you’d expect – is to be a front runner. Zak Brown saying the goal is still clear, “we want to be able to compete at the front every weekend, not every once in a while. We want to fight for the championship“
Being so closely involved in the Supercars coverage on Fox Sports, Yates also asked Zak about his involvement with the Walkinshaw Andretti United team here in Australia, he’s a big fan of the sport, even owns one of the previous WAU cars which he says he’ll be racing at Laguna Seca later this year.
Zac Brown is “Definitely coming to bathurst this year” where he hopes to see a repeat victory for the team after Chaz Mostert’s win in 2021.
On moving to Ford in 2023 – something he admitted was “big news” based on the fan reaction, he simply said “ultimately we’re doing it for competitive reasons”
The only place you can watch all the action of the Austrian Grand Prix is on Fox Sports and Kayo this Sunday at 11 pm. There’s a full Weekend of F1 ahead, with Practice tonight, Qualifying in the early hours of tomorrow morning, a Sprint Race to determine the grid in the early hours of Sunday Morning ahead of the Race itself on Sunday night!
Catch all the action on Fox Sports and Kayo, and then catch a recap of the race weekend with Trevor Long, Harry Tucker and special Guest Luke King on the EFTM F1 Podcast when you wake up on Monday morning.