Zak Brown Hopeful McLaren Will ‘hit the ground running’ in Formula E

The start of McLaren’s adventure in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship is just two weeks away, with the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team having enjoyed a solid week of pre-season testing at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia.

McLaren are continuing to widen their presence in the world of motorsport, with Formula E being the latest championship that the British manufacturer has decided to join. The side have entered the all-electric series at the start of Gen3, with McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown seeing the start of the new era of the sport as a “bit of a reset”.

Gen3 is certainly the perfect time for McLaren to have joined the sport, given that all the teams have gone back to square-one in the championship. McLaren will be a Nissan customer side for 2023, with the outfit using powertrains from the Japanese manufacturer, which looked very much up-to-standard in Valencia.

There will be a real sense of optimism around the new team, with their driver line-up of rookie Jake Hughes and the returning René Rast being one to watch. McLaren’s FE outfit also have a great team behind them, with the side having taken the vast majority of employees from the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, that left the sport at the end of Season Eight. McLaren have effectively taken Mercedes-EQ’s place in the sport, as well as Mercedes-EQ Team Principal Ian James.

With all that in mind, Brown sees Formula E as a “great opportunity” for McLaren, with the American hopeful that the team can “hit the ground running”.

“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Brown told mclaren.com.

“Mercedes was choosing to exit the sport and we’re now at the start of what is Formula E’s Gen3 – its third generation. So, we felt like there’s going to be a bit of a reset. Of course, we still have a lot to learn but the opportunity to acquire a team that’s won the last two championships, keep that team intact – led by Ian James, who’s very successfully led that team to those titles – was a great opportunity for us to hit the ground running with a team that already knows how to win.

“We’re so excited to be able to have the Mercedes employees now be McLaren employees. I think given our history with Mercedes, it was a nice way to transition from the Mercedes family into the McLaren family. So, I’m excited to work with all the men and women on the racing team.”

Credit: Sam Bloxham courtesy of FIA Formula E

Pre-season testing was very promising for McLaren, with Rast and Hughes having featured in the top ten for the vast majority of the week in Spain. Hughes in particular was exceptional, and was the only driver who was capable of getting amongst the DS Automobile-powered cars consistently. The former Mercedes-EQ reserve driver even won a mock-race during the week of testing, highlighting how well he’s settled into the McLaren setup.

Brown is seemingly very pleased with the team’s line-up for next season, with Rast being a “champion” and Hughes being rated very highly by the side’s Team Principal.

“With Rene, he’s a champion,” Brown added.

“He’s recognised as an extremely fast racing driver with a lot of experience. He’s been in Formula E before so we were very happy to get him on-board.

“Then there’s Jake. He has a great history with the former Mercedes team as their Simulator and Reserve Driver, so that was someone Ian felt he and the engineers knew well and they had done a lot of development work – he earned his opportunity. It’s great – I’m looking forward to seeing both of them on the grid next year.”