"Formula 1 is hot today without it"- McLaren boss feels the sport doesn't need American driver or team to gain popularity in US

F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Practice
McLaren Chief Executive Officer Zak Brown looks on in the Pitlane during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 26, 2022 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

McLaren team boss Zak Brown recently admitted that while he would be happy to have more American drivers and teams enter F1, the sport already has plenty of buzz around it in the United States. This was particularly evident in the success of the Netflix docu-series, Drive To Survive, which saw an incredible spike in viewing numbers and social media engagement in the US.

With this in mind, the 2023 season is set to host a whopping three races in the country, one each in Texas, Miami, and Las Vegas. However, it has been over a decade since any American driver has raced full time in F1, with the only recent potential contender being IndyCar driver Colton Herta.

As reported by Motorsport, Zak Brown confessed that F1's swiftly growing popularity in the US is not dependent on having an American driver or team:

“I think it would be great for both of them to happen, it would further enhance Formula 1 here. But we don’t have either today, and look how popular Formula 1 is now in America. So I’d love to see it happen, but I don’t think it has to happen. Because Formula 1 is hot today without it.”

The McLaren CEO continued by saying:

“We think a little bit differently. I think someone like Andretti could help make the sport grow. What we might lose out in the short term by sharing prize money will come back to us with more TV ratings, more sponsorship out of North America, etc. It’s a handful of teams that are trying to protect their own income and don’t see the bigger picture.”

Alpine "overachieving" in their fight against McLaren, says Fernando Alonso

Alpine and McLaren are in an intense battle to secure P4 in the 2022 F1 world constructors' standings, with the French outfit currently in the lead.

The Woking-based team started off the season on a strong note but have slipped further away with time and Fernando Alonso believes that Alpine are in a position where they are performing at a higher level than they had expected at the start of the year.

Reflecting on the 2022 season so far for Alpine, as reported by F1.com, the Spaniard said:

“Very impressive. I think we started a little bit worried in Bahrain and winter testing. We had some up and downs there in terms of performance. But I think from Australia or Jeddah onwards, the team has grown up a lot and the engine also is much better than last year. We had some reliability issues, but we have more power than last year, so we accept that. We are now fighting McLaren [in] the constructors’ championship and maybe that was a little bit of a dream at the beginning of the year, so I think we are overachieving compared to what we thought.”

Fernando Alonso further continued:

“I think we had a few races where we were not super lucky. Even in this run of points, Barcelona we started last, Austria the car did not start in the Sprint and we started last on Sunday, and we still even scored points in those races. But we need to have clean weekends, not have any problems Saturday and Sunday, and probably those will be better weekends in terms of points.”

18 points currently separate McLaren and Alpine in the constructors' standings.

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Edited by Upasya Bhowal
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