Brown excited for Suzuka after McLaren gains

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown is “very excited” about the team’s chances at the Japanese Grand Prix following a step forward in performance in Australia.

Oscar Piastri finished fourth at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix but struggled to pass Lewis Hamilton for much of the race with a lack of top speed, even when DRS was open, hurting his chances. After a more competitive showing in Melbourne where Lando Norris finished third ahead of Piastri again in fourth, Brown says McLaren has already made progress with that area of weakness.

“We made some changes to address that and we still have work to do but where we were pretty far off with our DRS in Saudi I think we’ve taken a nice step forward and it’s something for us to continue to build on,” Brown told SpeedCity Broadcasting.


“I’m very excited, I think we should be pretty strong in Suzuka.”

Norris claimed he should have finished second in Melbourne having run there in the early part of the race before Charles Leclerc undercut him in the pits, but Brown says the lost position shouldn’t overshadow how competitive overall the team was.

“It was pretty close, we were only a few seconds off. You don’t know what [Leclerc] had left in the tank, but clearly we were very competitive. We were pretty close to the front. I think any time your cars can see the winner, that’s a pretty good thing.”

However, there were words of caution from Norris himself, who – despite a double podium finish at Suzuka last season – doesn’t believe McLaren’s strong start to 2024 makes a repeat any more likely, given the gains Ferrari has made this season.

“You’ve got a lot of high speed,” Norris said. “The problem is Ferrari have improved their high speed a lot and that’s where they were struggling last year. So that’s why they’ve been able to take such a good step forward.

“I think we can still have a good weekend. We can still look forward to it. And I would love to say that if we can get two cars on a podium again, it would be a lovely weekend. But I think we have two more cars this year that we’re competing against on these types of circuits, not just Max [Verstappen].”

McLaren heads to Japan after announcing an organizational update that saw former Ferrari engineer David Sanchez departing after just three months with the team.

Story originally appeared on Racer