May 3, 2024 - News

Q&A with Formula 1 team boss Zak Brown

Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing, poses for a photo in front of the MX Extreme E race car outside of the New York Stock Exchange.

McLaren Racing chief executive Zak Brown. Photo: Michael Santiago/Getty Images

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown — the American face of Formula 1 — thinks the sport's popularity in the U.S. will only keep growing.

  • As the team prepares for this weekend's Miami Grand Prix, we sat down with Brown to discuss his journey to F1 and how he believes the sport is more competitive than ever.

A few fun facts: The California native raced professionally for 10 years, owing his start to an appearance on "Wheel of Fortune" when he was 13 years old.

💰 He won a set of his and hers watches on the show and sold them to buy a go-kart.

🚙 His daily driver is a Range Rover.

  • When he isn't driving McLaren supercars, he fancies his Porsche 959.

🤯 He hasn't tried Cuban coffee yet.

This Q&A has been edited for clarity.

What do you like to do when you're in Miami?

"Golf is definitely on the agenda as are nice restaurants, but at all race weekends what I like to do most is be at the race track."

Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen is dominating the sport. How can F1 improve parity between teams?

"Formula 1 has never been more competitive … Yes, we do have one guy who's running away with it. But if you look at every other data point, the sport's never been closer."

  • Brown says last year was the first time in F1 history that five teams had seven or more podium finishes. Once teams close the gap to Verstappen — "which will happen" — fan excitement will only increase.

Where do you want to see McLaren finish the season, and how do build a championship winning team?

"I think we've got the drivers, the people, the technology, the power unit. We're getting closer. We're third in the championship now. We'd like to finish no worse than third … Hopefully, we can have a shot at second."

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton announced he's joining Ferrari. Several others will be changing teams. Are you missing out on the fun since your drivers are locked into contracts?

"I'm definitely not missing out on the fun; I prefer different fun than driver drama. We're head-down and very focused on just doing the best we can with the team that we have. I think it's great for the sport that Lewis is going to Ferrari."

How can F1 build a pipeline to discover more American talent? Logan Sargeant is the only U.S. driver on the grid today.

"I think e-sports is a big aspect of how we can get young boys and girls with steering wheels in their hands thinking they're going to be the next [McLaren driver] Lando Norris."

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