The British Wonks At McLaren Will Now Be Led By An American

Photo credits: McLaren
Photo credits: McLaren

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.

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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.

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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.

Moderator, OppositeLock. Former Staff Writer, Jalopnik. 1984 "Porschelump" 944 race car, 1971 Volkswagen 411 race car, 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS.

DISCUSSION

So Ron Dennis refused to cut the McLaren rate card for sponsors, is Zak now going to go downmarket, is this the brilliant solution? I’ll admit, Sensodine is hardly a proud catch, but at least its a small sponsor, kept well with in proportion to is monitory contribution to the team. Will we soon see McLaren plastered with Jimmies Cheese Wiz on the rear wing, the top front of the car and on the end plates, for no more then a buck a race? Is this how Zak keeps his job?
I sense that Ron is in a deceptively strong position owning 25% of the whole enterprise, thorns of that size tend to flush out the folks that think they solved their problem.