Los Angeles-born motorsport marketer Zak Brown turned down the opportunity to take over some of Bernie Ecclestone’s commercial duties under new Formula One owners Liberty Media to join McLaren instead, reports the BBC. Brown joins the McLaren Technology Group as its new Executive Director—but curiously, not as a replacement for Ron Dennis as its CEO.
Brown’s appointment as an Executive Director is part of a restructuring effort that will align McLaren’s strategic and commercial operations behind one goal, according to McLaren’s press release: succeeding at Formula One. It’s about time.
Brown and Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Neale will work closely together to ensure this whole “stop sucking at F1" thing happens. They will both report directly to the McLaren Technology Group Executive Committee under the new structure.
Brown was previously mentioned as a possibly replacement for Dennis in the open CEO role, however, that search will continue, McLaren confirmed today. Brown is a former Formula Three racer and the founder of motorsport marketing agency Just Marketing International, which has worked with McLaren and a number of other high-profile clients to form sponsorship deals and partnerships that ultimately keep pricey F1 efforts running.
McLaren has not had a lucrative title sponsorship deal since Vodafone left in 2013. Thus, Brown may be just the man they need right now.
That leaves one big question over at McLaren: who’s replacing Ron Dennis? Or will he be replaced at all. Dennis is synonymous with the McLaren name, having brought the Formula One team out of oblivion to 10 drivers’ championships and seven constructors’ championships during his time leading the team.
He’s not one to let go easily, either. While he is “no longer actively engaged” in his duties as chairman and CEO per the BBC, he still has his 25% ownership stake in the McLaren Group.
Dennis is reportedly considering taking legal action against the other shareholders over his forcing-out, notes the BBC. However, the High Court already rejected one bid that would have prevented them from putting him on “gardening leave,” so we’ll see if that goes anywhere.