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Red Bull have ‘ruined a few great drivers’, McLaren chief claims

Zak Brown, the chief executive of McLaren, has accused Red Bull of being “a bit brutal” on young drivers and “ruining a few” that had the potential to succeed in Formula 1.

Max Verstappen secured his first F1 world title in 2021 having progressed through the ranks at Red Bull, following the achievements and career path of four-time drivers’ championship winner Sebastian Vettel.

While Daniel Ricciardo would also be counted as a success of Red Bull’s driver development program, helmed by Helmut Marko, Brown believes that the team has been detrimental to a number of promising young drivers.

Mexican driver Pato O’Ward is now a highly-competitive youngster in IndyCar with McLaren, and Brown thinks that O’Ward warranted greater opportunities than those afforded him by Christian Horner and his team.

“[Pato O’Ward] definitely slipped through the cracks,” Brown said to The Race.

“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.

“But they won the championship last year, we didn’t, so I can’t say they don’t know what they’re doing.”

Expanding on his comments, Brown feels that the atmosphere at Red Bull could be a contributing factor to a high driver turnover.

“They’re a bit brutal,” Brown explained. “Carlos [Sainz] 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. [Alex] Albon, [Pierre] Gasly. Gasly looks like a hell of a driver.

“They move through a lot of drivers.”

Verstappen’s triumph was Red Bull’s first since Vettel won the last of four consecutive titles in 2013.

McLaren claimed their most recent drivers’ championship in 2008 when Lewis Hamilton edged out Felipe Massa.

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