McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown says he’s expecting an “unbelievably competitive” 2021 Formula 1 season.
Last year saw one of the most competitive midfield battles as McLaren, Racing Point and Renault fought hard over third place in the Constructors’ Championship, with just a handful of points separating them at the end of the year.
Leaders Mercedes and Red Bull were out of reach and Brown expects that to be the case again, although with the 2020 cars carried over and restricted development permitted, the American is expecting the gaps to shrink, resulting in an even closer battle for third which could easily see McLaren emerge as “best of the rest” or at the back of that pack given such tiny margins.
“I think 2021 is going to look a lot like 2020,” Brown told China’s Xinhua. “All those teams in third to seventh took a turn at being the third-quickest team at some point over the year, so I think it’s going to be unbelievably competitive.
“We could find ourselves closer to Mercedes, which is what we hope to accomplish, or slipping to fifth in the championship, so it’s going to be too close to call. Where will we finish? Who knows, but I’m confident we’ll have a good year.”
McLaren will undergo the biggest change on the grid as they will switch from Renault to Mercedes power and with just three days of pre-season testing allowed – the fewest number of days ever – Brown admits it’s a nervous time for the team.
“Any time you’re making a substantial change, you run the risk of reliability and installation [issues], and just understanding the transition. Compounding that with the reduction in testing, we are excited but also nervous that we’re going into the season with the least amount of time to prepare on track. It’s not ideal, but I feel we’re well prepared.”
On the subject of power units, Brown also spoke about the future direction the sport might take with regards to how it’s powered.
“I think everyone is still debating [what the future of F1 will be]. Is it electric? Is it some form of hybrid? Is it even hydrogen? What I’m comfortable in is that F1 will continue to develop in whichever way the world goes. I’m not worried about whether F1 will be out of date in ten years. F1 always moves with the times.”