Brown addresses social media backlash over McLaren driver contract disputes

Zak Brown appreciates McLaren’s current driver contract disputes across both Formula 1 and IndyCar are “not without some noise” after facing some fan backlash, but says the team is focused on “total performance.”

Brown addresses social media backlash over McLaren driver contract disputes

McLaren is aiming to give an F1 drive to Oscar Piastri for 2023 but the reigning F2 champion is engaged in a dispute with current parent team Alpine. A Contract Recognition Board hearing is set for Monday to rule on the matter.

Over in IndyCar, McLaren has signed a deal with reigning champion Alex Palou for 2023, but the Spaniard is also engaged in a contract wrangling with current team Chip Ganassi Racing, which has filed a civil lawsuit over an alleged breach. 

The contract sagas have led to some backlash from fans online and via social media over the moves, but McLaren Racing CEO Brown made clear the team’s focus was on securing the best drivers possible.

“The image of McLaren is always very important to us,” Brown said on Friday at Spa.

“I think we’re simply trying to put together the best driver line-ups in every single racing series that we compete in. We’re focused on total performance.

“I realise that it’s not without some noise. But hopefully we’ll get our programmes in place, our drivers in place, and we can get back to talking about going motor racing.”

McLaren is aiming to hand a seat to Alpine's Oscar Piastri for 2023 after deciding to replace Daniel Ricciardo.

McLaren is aiming to hand a seat to Alpine's Oscar Piastri for 2023 after deciding to replace Daniel Ricciardo.

Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images

McLaren confirmed earlier this week that Daniel Ricciardo would be leaving at the end of the season after agreeing terms to terminate his contract one year early, freeing up a seat for Piastri.

Ricciardo is one of the most popular drivers on the F1 grid, again making the nature of his departure something groups of fans online took issue with, particularly with the Palou dispute also ongoing.

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But Brown said earlier this week that McLaren had “handled things transparently” and “done the right thing” before addressing the backlash on social media.

“I think in today’s world, we’ve seen with the various campaigns and all the activity around social media, that unfortunately some fans, fortunately not most, are quite abusive on social media,” Brown said.

“I think all you can do is ignore it. You don’t have to like it, but those that choose to hate are really not the types of fans that you want in sport. Certainly people are entitled to their opinions and certainly don’t mind the cheering and booing that you get in sports, but some people do take it way too far.

“All you can do is ignore that and be grounded in we’re doing the right things for McLaren, our partners, our employees, our McLaren fans and just be grounded in doing the right things, and block out those people that are abusive on social media.”

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