Zak Brown Settles Driver Vs Machinery Debate With Verstappen Claim

Monday, 13 May 2024 at 22:00
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During one of his latest podcast appearances, Zak Brown shared his opinion on which is more important- a fast car or a fast driver.
Zak Brown appeared on F1's Beyond the Grid podcast right after the 2024 Miami Grand Prix, which was a special weekend for his team.
McLaren achieved their first win since the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, beating Red Bull on pure race pace. In addition to multiple other topics, the McLaren CEO discussed the importance of having a strong car-designing team versus having a strong driver lineup.

"Well, ultimately, you need both. I don't think without a star driver, you're gonna win, so you need both. First, it does start with the car - people ask me all the time: 'Is it a car or a driver?'"

"And it's like: 'Well, it's both,'" he added before turning his attention to the prevailing force in contemporary F1."

Former Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner has said that if he could take one person from the whole F1 paddock into his team, it would be Adrian Newey (Red Bull's departing car designer).
Steiner's reasoning was simple. While he believed multiple people could win races in Max Verstappen's Red Bull, for example, he didn't believe the triple World Champion could win a race in his Haas. Brown agrees multiple drivers could win the Championship in Red Bull's car.

"I think the way I characterize it is, I think there are six, seven drivers on the grid that will be world champions in the Red Bull."

"As great as Max [Verstappen] is, and he's one of the best ever. I don't think Max wins the world championship today in any other car, other than the Red Bull"

On the other hand, the CEO of McLaren recognized and highlighted the driver's importance as he pinpointed the difference between Sergio Perez and his Dutch teammate.

"But then, when you look at the difference, and Sergio Perez is an excellent racing driver, who's shown on his day [he] can run with Max, but look at the difference there."

"So, I think you need both, because as Formula 1 gets closer, and Max is doing such a special job, but look at what's going on from P1, P2, P3, P4, P5."

It seems every team needs a powerful car, but once the development curve starts to flatten and they start converging, drivers get their chance to prove their value.

"One day, we're [McLaren] P2; the next day, we're P5, and it's all moving around. So the cars are so close, that that's when the driver is going to make the difference. So you need both, at the end of the day."