22 Jun 2022

By: Sport Industry Group

McLaren Racing has announced that Goldman Sachs Group Inc will become an official partner of the McLaren Formula One team in a partnership that will centre around the British motor racing team’s commitment to accelerate progress toward its net zero goals.

We sat down with McLaren Racing CEO, Zak Brown, to discuss the new partnership, what it means for the team, and the progress McLaren and Formula One are making to become more sustainable.

Zak Brown was named the CEO of McLaren Racing in April 2018. A former racing driver who never passes up the opportunity to get behind the wheel, nowadays strategic and commercial partnerships have become a crucial aspect of his responsibilities.

The new agreement with Goldman Sachs is the latest in a long line of relationships that the Formula 1 team holds, which includes expansive partnerships with the likes of Dell, Unilever, Coca Cola, and Google.

“Ultimately it got started when Goldman attended Austin (United States Grand Prix) a year ago and had me speak at their event,” says Brown explaining how the racing team’s latest link up came about. “I think they started to recognise the excitement that Formula One creates for their client base. They saw that they had demand from their clientele, an excitement to be around Formula One. They were recognising that having an involvement in the sport creates better experience for their clients.”

Eight months later and the initial enthusiasm from the American investment bank’s clients would eventually lead to the conclusion of a multi-year partnership between Goldman Sachs, with the deal officially announced by both parties on 21st June 2022. 

Somewhat surprisingly, Brown says that a key focus of the partnership between “one of the greatest brands and financial institutions in the world” and the historic Formula 1 team is sustainability.

Sustainability is very important to McLaren,” says Brown highlighting the team’s ambitions to become carbon neutral by 2040. “Goldman Sachs is a leader in helping clients grow their business and I am very much looking forward to working with them, to help make a more sustainable future while doing it fiscally responsibly.”

McLaren’s net zero target may sound like a lofty ambition to some, but Brown is clear in his strategy and has plans already in place to make progress in the short-term. “One of the biggest areas we will be working on immediately is how we reduce our energy costs at our factory. We have an awesome factory and reducing energy costs is crucial.

Looking ahead, how can we move to a 100% renewable energy? Goldman have lots of expertise, but the areas that we're focusing on with them now is around renewable energy and energy costs. And then, within our network of relationships, how can we work with the right partners and suppliers?

“Because sustainability is not just about decarbonisation of what McLaren produces, it’s also about who are we working with and how are we working with them. So that's going to be our initial areas of focus. Ultimately Goldman will help us work with the right partners and suppliers to create opportunities, to be able to enhance our progress.

To illustrate the commitment to more sustainable racing, Brown’s stewardship of McLaren has also seen the team enter new electric racing series, with positive moves made in the off-road series Extreme E, spurring on the team’s decision to commit to Formula E for season nine of the competition.

“We entered Extreme E because we really like the platform,” Brown explains. “Extreme E is very much focused on climate, but also a huge champion of gender equality, because it includes male and female racing drivers. In a very short period of time, it was well received by our partners, our fans, and our employees. So, we felt that entering Formula E would turbo charge, forgive the expression, our commitment to sustainability.”

Brown points to these recent commitments to greener racing, alongside the release of McLaren’s 2021 Sustainability Report and having received an FIA three-star Environmental Accreditation for the ninth year running, as a key factors for organisations looking to become involved with the team rather than others on the grid.

“To have Goldman Sachs, a company that has not historically participated in sports partnerships, feel that Formula One is a platform for them is great.

“It’s very much just like Google. Google has not historically been a company that has participated in sports partnerships either. So, to be able to bring on partners like Goldman Sachs and Google is a privilege,” he exclaims.

Asked to look beyond the McLaren’s own ambitions and consider Formula One as a whole, Brown says that the sport’s position at the forefront of innovation will be key to its future sustainability.

“Formula One has always been a leader in technology, and I think we're in the early days of hybrid, electrification and biofuels. Even hydrogen is being discussed now. What's great about Formula One is that it helps develop these technologies and sits at the forefront of technology.

“I don't think anyone yet knows what the ultimate solution will be. I would predict that there's going to be multiple solutions. I don't think we're going to be in an all-electric world or an all-hydrogen world or an all-hybrid world. I think it will be a combination of all these aspects.

“What I do know is that Formula One will lead the way in a more sustainable future on power output.”

Find out more about the new partnership between McLaren Racing and Goldman Sachs here.