McLaren look to Brown to throw away the blues

Executive director says sponsorship is key to success

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: If it is Formula One, winning is the only formula to survive. And nothing but sponsorship is what counts if you want to make the formula work.

Having roped in Zak Brown as executive director with the reputation of being the kingpin in the sponsorship industry, McLaren believe they could revive their fortunes in the fast lane.

To do that, Brown reckons McLaren needs to increase its fan base. “We need to be very engaging with the fans and need to have a massive base. We need more sponsors. The more sponsors we get the more money we can give to the race team and the faster it goes and then we will have more fans. We need to get all three of them right to propel us forward,” said Brown, who has a strong background with Grand Prix because of his stint at JMI.

McLaren are without a title sponsor for three years after Vodafone pulled out in 2012 and that has really hurt their aspirations.

“Absolutely, the brands we have on the cars are fantastic companies. But we need more of them. It costs a lot to go motor racing and we need to deliver value to our marketing partners and we need them to deliver value to us in growing our fan base and economics. So it’s critically important that we find a title or a major sponsor. We need some logos on the side part of our car,” said Brown, who is well aware it would be a tough proposition for him to rope in a title sponsor straightaway for the 2017 season.

“I’ve not been on the inside so I don’t know how many near misses they have had. We had a couple of close opportunities, so it is hard. Very hard. By no means do I have a magic wand and think having a title partner for 2018 is going to be an easy feat,” said Brown, who will be focusing fully on finalising sponsorship deals unlike his previous effort with JMI where it was not just about McLaren.

“I’ve not been looking for a title sponsor for McLaren as part of a day job. JMI were out there but we don’t look after any particular teams. What we tend to do is sit in front of corporations and understand what their needs are and then try to direct them where we happen to think is a good fit.

“So hopefully 100 per cent time as opposed to part-time will be the difference between us being able to deliver one as JMI and being able to deliver one as a McLaren employee,” said Brown, who is happy and upbeat about the team’s line-up of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.

“We have the best driver in the world in Fernando Alonso and I expect Stoffel Vandoorne to give him a run for his money. Stoffel is a future world champion and they are a great pairing. I’m very excited for our driver line-up,” he insisted.