McLaren CEO Zak Brown feels that Red Bull are too ‘brutal’ with their junior drivers and that they don’t give them enough opportunities.
Red Bull have had some extraordinary drivers come up through the ranks of their junior team. Sebastian Vettel’s career started within the Milton-Keynes outfit, and he went on to win four World Championships with them. Another example would be 2021 World Champion Max Verstappen, who at just 24-years old, has already been with the team for eight years now.
However, despite having some successful drivers making their mark, Red Bull also have a history of being impatient with some. McLaren’s CEO Zak Brown feels that Red Bull’s way of dealing with drivers is ‘very brutal’.
Over the last few years, they’ve had Daniil Kvyat, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon as one of their drivers. All of them started out at Toro Rosso (their sister team), before being given a Red Bull seat. There, they weren’t given enough time or support to show their true worth, according to Brown.
The American went on to cite Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniel Ricciardo’s careers as further examples. Sainz is one of the most consistent drivers on the grid, but had to leave Red Bull for Renault, because the former prioritized Verstappen.
Ricciardo had a decently successful stint with the Austrian team. He won seven of his eight races with the outfit, but still chose to leave ahead of the 2019 season.
Zak Brown talks about McLaren’s rising star Pato O’Ward, another driver who Red Bull neglected
Pato O’Ward is currently part of the Arrow McLaren SP team, and competes full time in IndyCar. After the last race in the 2021 season, he took part in the F1 young drivers’ test, and impressed. As a result, O’Ward has been linked to a future move to F1.
Before moving across the pond to compete in IndyCar, the Mexican driver was given a opportunity at Red Bull’s junior team. They found a seat for him in F2 and Super formula, but took part in just five races collectively.
Ahead of the 2020 season, FIA announced that the super license points he scored in IndyCar would not be enough for an F1 seat. As a result, Red Bull made the decision to drop him from their program.
“He definitely slipped through the cracks,” the McLaren boss said. “I think Red Bull, while he was there, they only gave him about three races (in junior categories).
“But if you look at Red Bull’s history other than Max, they have let a handful of great drivers slip through their hands. I think they’ve ruined a few that I think had it, but weren’t given enough opportunity,” Brown continued.
“They’re a bit brutal. Carlos is a great example. Daniel had already proven how good he was but he chose to leave. Vettel left. Max is a great story and someone that they found. Albon, Gasly. Gasly looks like a hell of a driver. They move through a lot of drivers.”