How well do you know our CEO and Team Principal?
It’s summer shutdown time in Formula 1, but before Zak Brown and Andreas Seidl headed to their summer holidays, we asked them to sign off by answering questions submitted by McLaren fans. Here's how it went!
Zak, Andreas, thank you so much for joining today as part of this incredible fan forum. We have had a lot of questions coming through from our incredible McLaren fans from all over the world.
First question: throughout the year, what is the race that you most look forward to and why?
Zak Brown: My favourite race is the Canadian Grand Prix. I love most of them, but Montreal is a great city, has a great history, and we’ve had great success there. Just has a real great racing culture. But I could name about 10 others that are my favourite tracks.
Andreas Seidl: Mine is Monaco. It was always a dream for me as a kid to work there one day. I liked the atmosphere there. It's such an iconic race.
What was it like for you when you first went to Monaco?
AS: It was very, very, very special. Because it was always a dream to work there. And I still remember when I was standing on the grid there for the first time as a young and ambitious engineer. Great memories.
What will you be doing during the summer break?
ZB: I'm going to go to the Monterey Historics which is what I always do in the summer break - drive some old historic racing cars and relax in California. I'm sure I'll get a round or two of golf in too.
AS: I will try to spend as much time as possible with my family, with the kids. And try to avoid any planes and any hotel rooms! That is my ideal holiday.
What is the one FIA rule you would change and why?
ZB: Good question. In qualifying, sometimes a driver will go out and will create a yellow or even a red flag, and that driver doesn't get penalised, yet it can compromise qualifying for other drivers. In INDYCAR, if you create a yellow or a red, you lose your two fastest times. So it's a penalty if you make a mistake. And then of course, we've seen in Formula 1 over the years, one or two drivers maybe do it intentionally…
AS: I would ban DRS. I don’t like artificial overtaking devices. But at the same time, I recognise now, even with this new generation of cars. It would take a lot of action away at the moment. We wouldn't see a lot of overtaking manoeuvres. But I still have this dream that at one point in the future, we have cars that actually don't need these artificial overtaking devices.
If Bruce McLaren was brought to modern-day McLaren, what car from the Boulevard would you most want to give him a drive in?
Zak: Well, it would have to be a road car if I was giving him a drive in it. If it was a racing car, obviously the MP4/4 is our most successful and Formula 1's most successful car of all time. So given he was an engineer and driver, I'm sure he would be very fond of that racing car.
AS: I would prefer to see him in our current car, because that's the baby we are working on as a team. That's what we are proud of. It would be interesting to get some feedback from his side on what he thinks of current Formula 1 cars.
What do you think you would be working on if you weren't at McLaren?
ZB: My dream job would be a baseball player. That's what I wanted to be growing up.
AS: Definitely not baseball for me! I'd like to be the manager of a football team. My favourite football team is Bayern Munich in Germany.
If a movie was made about McLaren today, Andreas, who would play Zak, and Zak, who would play Andreas?
AS: Maybe a mix of George Clooney and maybe The Rock.
ZB: I had the advantage of being able to go second and so I gave it some thought, I'd say Nicholas Cage for Andreas. He's got the same facial hair and all.
Andreas, is there an ideal person you'd want to play yourself?
AS: Oh, I'm still a big fan of the Sylvester Stallone movies from the past, a mix of Rocky Balboa and John Rambo.
Zak, what about you? In an ideal world, who would like to play you?
ZB: I like Stallone. He wouldn't be first on my list. Maybe Matthew Broderick.
How closely do you monitor other teams' upgrades? And how quickly do you act upon these things? And what is the general turnaround time from discovery to on-track implementation?
AS: Competitive analysis is part of the sport we are in. It's important and you always see if there is any inspiration you should take on board. But at the same time, it's very important that you first and foremost focus on your own development and trust your own direction. How long does it take to take inspiration on board and put them into reality? It depends on the parts. That can be within days or could take months if you speak about total concept changes, for example.
Zak, are you also keeping an eye on what's happening around you with other teams?
ZB: I do, but it tends to be a bit more on the business and commercial side. And Andreas runs the racing team. So I am fascinated by what others have going on, but I wouldn't confess to looking at another racing team's floor and being inspired.
Did you always have a passion for Formula 1 and know that you wanted to be involved in it one day? How were you introduced to the sport?
ZB: My first race was the 1981 Long Beach Grand Prix. I was 10 years old and Alan Jones won. I remember it like it was yesterday. I still have the racing programme. I've always loved the sport and I've always been a huge McLaren fan. Ayrton Senna is the one I started following, Formula 1 in '86, '87 when he was winning in the Lotus and then he came to McLaren and then the rest is history.
AS: I never was really into driving. But I'm a Michael Schumacher kid, so I started to watch Formula 1 in detail from around '92 onwards. And that's where the desire came to study mechanical engineering at some point and with a clear goal of ending up working in Formula 1.
What is your favourite McLaren F1 car livery?
ZB: I love what our car looks like now. I thought our Gulf car in Monaco 2021 was pretty awesome. But if I go back to another era, I think the Vodafone cars and the West cars. McLaren has always had stunning-looking cars, so it’s hard to pick one. I was a huge Mika Häkkinen fan so maybe I'll go with that.
AS: I like the MCL36 because that's our current baby, and that's what we’re proud of. And because it has a lot of black, and black means it's light, because there's no foil. But in terms of livery, I liked the Gulf one.
How do you prepare for a race as a Team Principal?
AS: There are a lot of meetings with different groups of the team before a race weekend and a lot of documents to read through. The main focus is on the sporting technical side. It’s also very important to align with Zak with the Comms department before going into a race weekend, on questions that could come up from media during a weekend. I also get a briefing on the commercial and marketing side to simply try and lead the team during a race weekend.
And do you give a pep talk to the team as well? Is that part of it?
AS: I wouldn't say it's a standard. It depends on where we are during the season, how the weekend before went, how the days go etc. But it’s important from time to time, to be with the drivers, with Zak, to make sure that especially after bad days, for example, you pump everyone up again and go again.
How about you Zak? As CEO of Racing, how do you prepare for a race weekend?
ZB: A lot of coffee! Andreas and I are in constant contact. Again, I tend to focus more on the business, commercial and media side. What guests do we have? What shareholders do we have? I watch from the pit-wall, or sometimes the garage. But I leave the racing to Andreas and the team and tend to just make sure that our guests that are there are well taken care of. And the activation activity that's going on in the city is all going according to plan.
If there were to be a race between all team principals, who do you think would win?
AS: I've seen some onboards from Toto around the Nordschleife, so I think he will probably be quite competitive and ambitious.
Who would be the underdog? Who do you think might just clinch it right at the end?
AS: I don't know. I think Christian has some racing experience.
ZB: I think Toto and Christian are the only two to my knowledge that have racing experience.
So it'd be a fight between the three of you?
ZB: That could be your podium.
As kids, who or what inspired you? Or who or what inspires you now?
ZB: I get a lot of inspiration from different people. In racing, I've been fortunate to meet a lot of the uber successful people. Ron Dennis, an absolute legend of the sport, he and Mansour did an unbelievable job building what is McLaren today, so certainly, Ron and Mansour. Roger Penske, especially if I look at the way he's combined racing and business. He wins at everything that he does. He has great people around him and he knows how to use motor racing to build his business and he knows how to use his business to build his motor racing.
AS: For me, it's not necessarily specific people. I’m inspired by sports teams. I always wanted to be part of a sports team and that's something that still keeps me going today. I like to be part of a team. The special spirit you have within a sports team keeps me going.
Time for some quick-fire questions for you now. Did you pass your driving test first time?
ZB: In America? Yes. In England, no.
How many times here?
ZB: Three. It’s a nightmare.
Andreas, how about you? Did you pass your driving test first time?
AS: With a car? Yes. And that's all I want to say.
Race you're most looking forward to in the second half of the season?
AS: Spa and Monza.
What’s the best part of a race weekend?
ZB: The start.
AS: For me, the celebrations in the garage after a good race.
Describe each other in one word.
Favourite F1 era?
ZB: It'd have to be the one I grew up in, so 80s.
AS: For me, the 90s, because that's where I started to watch it with some great battles of Michael (Schumacher) against drivers also from McLaren.
Zak, would you get another tattoo?
ZB: Highly unlikely.
Andreas, would you ever consider getting a tattoo?
AS: Definitely not.
Is there anything that you would like to say to the fans before we head into the shutdown?
AS: Hello fans! We’re heading into shutdown now for two weeks. You have all seen the first half of the season was a challenging one with a difficult start, but we’re pleased to see, together with your support, how the team are coming back strongly. We can celebrate some highlights, including Lando’s podium at Imola, we brought some good upgrades to the track that put us in a more competitive position now. We’re looking forward to a strong second half of the season. We’re only four points away from P4 in the Constructors’ Championship - that's the goal in the second half of the season. I think we have everything together with Lando and Daniel to do that. And together with your support, I'm really looking forward to it. And I hope everyone is having a good break as well on your side. See you on the other side of the shutdown.
ZB: Just building on what Andreas said, you guys and gals are the best fans in sport. We listen to you, we hear you cheering for us. We know when we don't put together a good weekend that you give us some great, great support and encouragement. You hold us to a high standard, as we do ourselves and so we're going to keep pushing. The sport is not easy. As Andreas said, it was a bit of a difficult start to the year, but we we're catching up and there’s a lot of racing to go and we’re confident we're going to get that fourth place in the championship. This is a step in the journey of course, as our real desire is to get to the top step and compete for the world championship. That’s the goal.
Join the team
McLaren Plus is our free-to-join fan loyalty programme, bringing McLaren fans closer to the team with the most inclusive, rewarding and open-to-all fan programmes in motorsport.
Sign up now, or current members can amend their details in the form below if necessary.