“Cant Let Your Guard Down” – McLaren F1 CEO Zak Brown Explains His Refusal to Mingle With His Peers

Published 10/30/2021, 7:28 AM EDT
BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN – MARCH 29: Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff and McLaren Chief Executive Officer Zak Brown talk in the Paddock before practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 29, 2019 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)


Zak Brown has been a busy man these last two seasons. Adamant to make McLaren a championship-winning team again, Brown has been on a relentless mission to do everything he can. And this affects his social relationships in the paddock in a very surprising manner.

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It turns out, Zak Brown doesn’t maintain friendships with other team bosses. In a recent interview, Brown revealed that although he knows the other bosses, he doesn’t go out of his way to spend time with them. “I definitely know them all! I guess we’re pitlane friends… do I hang out with any of them? No.”

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In a cutthroat sport like F1, maintaining friendships can be difficult. Even more so for the team CEO, who has so much information about the workings of his team. Unwilling to take a risk, Brown explained his distance from his peers, “You know, you can’t let your guard down, everyone’s looking for a competitive advantage, so if you’re true friends, you might share something that you shouldn’t.”

Although the team principals have a lot in common with their position and stresses in the sport, Brown chooses a less risky alternative to be friends with. “We all share the same passion. I’m friends more with a couple of drivers than I am the other team bosses.”

Zak Brown shares his passion for McLaren

Brown’s sacrifices for his team stem from a childhood feeling of awe. Living his dream life, Brown now leads the team he has grown up adoring. The Papaya fan said, “I’ve always been a fan of Formula 1. McLaren’s always been my favorite team.- that dates back to 1988 when Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost had their epic titanic battle.”

MONZA, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 12: Race winner Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and McLaren F1, second placed Lando Norris of Great Britain and McLaren F1 and McLaren Chief Executive Officer Zak Brown celebrate on the podium during the F1 Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 12, 2021 in Monza, Italy. (Photo by Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Titling himself as “a blend of fan, racer, businessman wrapped into one,” Brown does more than justice to his favorite team.

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During the initial stages of the pandemic, McLaren’s finances took a massive blow; something Brown has built up impressively. Further, with Daniel Ricciardo‘s initial struggles with the team, the P3 in the championship seemed like an unlikely achievement. With Brown’s help, both Norris and Ricciardo hold on tight to the team’s spot on the board.

Like this, living his dream job hasn’t been easy for the American. With 10 coffees a day, the competition with Ferrari and the 2022 car has the boss up at night. “Usually the stuff that keeps you up at night is the stuff you can’t control.”

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Now, as the road to the finale becomes tighter, McLaren has a 3.5 point advantage on their Red rivals. With five rounds to go, Brown is sure to up his caffeine intake, which may pay off if the team holds on to their position at Abu Dhabi.

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Shreya Sanjeev

628 articles

Shreya Sanjeev is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having attained a journalism degree from St Xavier's College, she finds comfort in the sound of her keyboard while typing and excitement in the sound of F1 cars speeding on a track. A street circuit and Daniel Ricciardo fan through and through, Shreya claims the 2018 Monaco GP to be one of her favorite races of all time.

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