Zak Brown makes advance for Max Verstappen’s key ally

Zak Brown looks to have been laying some groundwork with Adrian Newey, the most renowned engineer in F1 history, with the two pictured out for dinner. The Red Bull man was sporting a McLaren cap during the evening, while Brown returned the favour.

The 64-year-old was part of the McLaren set-up for eight seasons between 1997 and 2005, contributing to the title-winning 1998 and 1999 cars as Mika Hakkinen rose to the summit of F1 with the team.

After years of contractual debates, Newey left the team for the new Red Bull project in 2006 and has stayed there ever since, helping design the cars that have lifted both Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen to their first and subsequent world titles.  

However, if Brown has anything to say about it, Newey could be heading back to the Woking-based outfit. The American posted pictures to his social media channels on Sunday while he was enjoying a dinner with the legendary engineer, who was wearing a McLaren cap.

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Brown captioned his post: “Great meal with some real legends to wrap up Monterey Car Week! CEO of Ford @JimFarley98, 9-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen and the man in the McLaren cap who knows a thing or two about car design. 

“It’s a good fit, Adrian! He was very thoughtful to get me a cap in return! Looking forward to racing again with @mclarenf1 and @arrowmclaren next weekend!”

The McLaren CEO will be desperate to watch his cars return to action next weekend at the Dutch Grand Prix as they continue to close in on Ferrari and Aston Martin in the Constructors’ Championship standings. 

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McLaren have now breached the 100-point mark for the season thanks to Lando Norris’ impressive recovery drive at the Belgian Grand Prix with podiums in Britain and Hungary, as well as Oscar Piastri’s sprint race P2 at Spa helping the team to rapidly close the deficit.

While the papaya team have little chance of making serious dents into the advantage of the incredible, Newey-designed RB19, the team are currently battling with Mercedes for the honour of the second-fastest car in the field. 

It won’t be all smiles for Brown though. The 51-year-old has been caught up in the middle of contractual drama with reserve driver Alex Palou, who was meant to drive for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team next season alongside his F1 testing duties. However, the Spaniard has since backed out of his agreement, leaving the team in a difficult spot.

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