Brown promises "big changes" at McLaren


Wearing one of his many hats, that of Non-Executive Chairman of, part of Mike Zoi's increasingly growing media empire which we understand is to go public this year following a false start in 2017, Zak Brown has told said website that McLaren is to undergo big changes this season.

"The car's not going to look the same as last year, our whole brand, the visibility of McLaren, is going to go to the next level and it's going to be exciting," said Brown, his marketing roots to the fore.

"We know what a lot of the other teams are going to look like, but hopefully people will see the biggest change on and off the track at McLaren going into Australia."

Unfortunately, as in 2017, though partnered with a new engine supplier, Brown appears to think that a change of livery will help the multi-champions begin to re-establish themselves.

Last year, the team dropped its corporate grey of recent years, for a more colourful livery which included the papaya orange synonymous with the team's origins in the 60s and 70s.

Asked if the team will move further towards that early look, he admitted: "There will be some nod to our history but we're not done with the livery yet because a lot of that is sponsor dependent."

Ah, sponsors.

Brown has previously dismissed the notion of title sponsors as essentially being 'old fashioned', a view he still holds, despite Red Bull and Sauber going down that route and even Formula E agreeing a $100m deal with Swiss technical giant ABB.

"We do need a title-level partner," he said, "all I've done is dropping the vernacular of title into principal and have looked at all of our commercial assets, which is not just the race car it's our other forms of racing and things like our building and war rooms and things of that nature, and have looked at what's the best way to commercialise the world of McLaren.

"Going through that exercise developed a plan that doesn't require a 'title partner'," he insists. "It still requires a principal partner, just not a 'title partner'. I know that's semantics there but it's really about protecting the McLaren name. That's all I'm trying to do is ring-fence that and keep us as McLaren. I don't really feel there's that much value in the sponsor's name being part of the team but I do think it slightly diminishes the value of the name of the team when it's being co-branded.

"We've signed three partners so far that we will start to announce and hopefully a few more," he continued. "We won't be sold out, it takes time, but I'm really happy with the on-track direction of the team, our driver line-up and our off-track, our commercial, our marketing engagement with the fans. It's a great company with a great brand that has been under-leveraged in recent times."

As for those big changes, well, while FOM has invigorated the sport with a new logo, Brown believes McLaren and its fans will be inspired by a new-look garage.

"We are calling it a new era," he said, "we are back and we are going to have some great things like a new garage. One of the things that McLaren hasn't done in recent years is be a leader. With our garage and everything, we look like everyone else, so we need to step up and be the guys in Australia where everyone says, did you see what McLaren did?

"That is what McLaren always was. I think with our lack of competitiveness, we have kind of blended in. We need to get back to being a team that people are envious of. I feel we are on our way."

Whether McLaren fans - and potential sponsors – would be more impressed with Fernando and Stoffel battling the Mercedes, Ferraris and Red Bulls this season than a new garage is something they can only answer themselves.

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Published: 10/01/2018
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