Zak Brown, new head of McLaren: “We have to win again sooner rather than later”


Sound air of change in McLaren. The forced exit of Ron Dennis of the corporate positions of the team have meant the arrival of a new helm as executive director to the front of the McLaren Technology Group, Zak Brown. Their role, however, will not be a direct replacement for the work that Dennis exercised currently: in fact, its functions were limited to the aspect of competition, leaving the part of automotive technology and the Chief operating officer, Jonathan Neale.

Just 24 hours after they have been appointed, Brown, 45 years, has granted his first interview as Ceo of McLaren to the digital medium american Motorsport, which currently holds a role as chief executive, a job that, according to him, himself, focuses “in the aspect of business, not in the editorial”, thus ruling out any suspicion of conflict of interest: “is Only a conflict if you become one, and I do not intend to do so”.

For Brown, who defines himself as “a man’s McLaren” after having competed in GTs with their cars in your own team, join the Woking it is as if Christmas had come before, it is a fantastic feeling. I haven’t been so happy in a long time. I feel like a small child. For me, McLaren is the era of Senna, and after the era of Mika Hakkinen. was Always my team of Formula 1 favorite. In addition, Brown has spoken of the new opportunities that will open with your new status:

“a Lot of people here have done a lot of business in the last decade. It’s great to have the opportunity to lead the way with the which I think is the best team of Formula 1. Is a great time to join McLaren, are clearly on an upward trajectory. I’m excited for my role in the areas of contribution that I have been asked to do, I have a great relationship with the shareholders. Beyond the Formula 1, I am very happy with what McLaren is doing in the field of automotive. Although it is not my role nor my responsibility, the two go hand in hand, from the point of view of the brand.”

As could not be otherwise, Brown has only had good words for Ron Dennis, who claims to have a huge admiration so that he, and his entire team, have built. I Spoke with him recently and, as a shareholder, you will have a great interest in our success”. However, does not rule out the possibility of changing the team’s methodology in certain aspects: “I love the winning culture of McLaren, but when I have adapted and work closely with all, there may be some ways to work different“.

In that aspect, Zak Brown has had the opportunity to work closely in the past with the two visible faces of the project sporty McLaren, Eric Bouiller and newcomer Jost Capito. Of Bouiller has highlighted the achievements made by Lotus during their stay in the team, especially in 2012, and you qualify to Capito as a “winner in all”.

“I’m optimistic with Eric. cbecame acquainted with when he was chief of Lotus and had the sponsorship of Unilever with them. it Was the first time that I was able to see him work, and I was very impressed with what you did with Lotus, given the challenges they had. And people thought that Kimi was at the end of his career… turned and were third in the championship; the car was great, had a great team and culture that allowed Kimi to win again. Clearly, they hit above their weight, and Eric was the leader of the team. That has always impressed me. If you look at McLaren, they have gone forward since he arrived. From what I have seen, apart from my friendship, it has achieved results, and it seems that we are going in the right direction.”

“I Know Jost from more than 10 years ago. In fact, it was my customer at Ford. Has been a winner in everything that I have seen him do, I’ve been cool with it, and has a great passion with the brand. I think that is a type of extremely talented, so, from what I can see, we have many of the adequate resources. Now it’s about making progress and being together as a team.”

no one is aware that this change in the organizational structure of McLaren comes at a key point for the team, on the eve of a new regulation that will mark the future of Formula 1 during the next five years, and has acquired even more relevance to a McLaren, which builds up already four seasons without winning a Big Prize. Brown is aware of the historical emergencies of McLaren, but given their recent appointment, it is wet just right: “As in any business, there are to make progress as fast as possible. There has been good progress in the last 24 months, but I don’t know enough yet to start predicting positions on the grid. We have to win again sooner rather than later“.

And to do this, alignment of riders play a pivotal role. Brown does not skimp on praise for them, especially for Fernando Alonso: “We have three pilots incredible, and two of them are champions. The combination of the three is an alignment as powerful as anyone else’s. I don’t know well, Fernando, and I’m looking forward to doing so. I Am a great admirer of what he has achieved, is a competitor amazing. I would say that is as good as any, and I think a lot of people would agree with me. Stoffel (Vandoorne) is an amazing young talent, and was very impressive in the only Grand Prix that has been done, given the conditions. To Jenson (Button) if you know and have worked with him, and he is one of my favorites”.

His experience in the field of marketing applied to the vehicle business is one of its strong points, and it is expected that their incorporation implies a plus for that McLaren has an economic margin solid to be able to fight with warranties. In that regard, Brown notes that a main sponsor is one of the objectives, but not the only one, and relies on increasing the attractiveness of the team to add new commercial agreements with brands entity:

“it Is important that I sit and learn more, and I don’t think that you know more working with limited information. There is a lot of space in the car of McLaren that needs to be filled with major luxury brands. A primary sponsor will help us to go forward, but I don’t think that takes precedence over the other. We need partners and a lead partner is a key partner, so we have to become a proposition more attractive to business partners, but it is clear that there is a reason why they’re not winning as much as we should. That has to be addressed, but I haven’t identified where he is.”

Formula 1 goes through also an important change in the plot, and organizational and commercial the acquisition of the category on the part of Liberty Media, of which it expects will help to increase the attractiveness of the sport to the new generations, and maintain, at its time, a commercial aspect active. Brown is confident that McLaren can play an important role inside of a Formula 1 “innovative” in the commercial field:

“I Think all Formula 1 must think about trade agreements with a continued vision and to evolve in an innovative way, and I would like to see McLaren leading the way. The sponsors are more sophisticated than ever at the time of purchase, are more oriented to the results and the measurements. We have to be a team that suits how we go to market with corporate partners. McLaren has led the way, and has created what is the current Formula 1, and I would like to do it on the track and off of it.

finally, Brown also responded about the possible involvement of McLaren in other categories. Making it clear that Formula 1 is the highest priority, aims to maintain its supply agreements pbx to other categories, and does not rule out a return to the 24 hours of Le Mans, a race that McLaren won it in 1995. “it Would be very premature to talk about getting involved in other forms of motorsport, since the Formula 1 is the first, second, and third choice. But we are on the GTs, I worked with McLaren to close the agreement for the supply of switchboards with NASCAR, and we also do exchanges for IndyCar. Outside of the Formula 1, what would be Le Mans in the list of possible conversation? Absolutely, McLaren has won at Le Mans before. Maybe some day“.