Zak Brown joins McLaren

To be fair to the Formula 1 press, they’ve been bird-dogging the departure of Zak Brown from CMS/JMI for a few weeks and had all but placed him at Liberty Media or McLaren and that’s a job well done on their part because it was announced yesterday that the former marketing guru would be joining the folks in Woking sans Ron Dennis. Zak said:

“I’m immensely proud to be joining McLaren Technology Group,” said Brown.

“I have the utmost respect and admiration for what the business has achieved to date, and I look forward to contributing to the next important phase in its development.

“Having worked closely with McLaren for many years, I’ve been struck by the talent and ambition of the entire workforce, and I very much look forward to complementing the business’s many existing strengths, and building on them to drive future success in everything we do.”

Before you get the impression he’s running the entire ship, that’s not exactly what is happening. He’s head of marketing and racing but the owners are still searching for a CEO for the group. 

That makes sense as Brown is key to dig in to bringing McLaren back to the forefront of racing and brand appeal. I think it would be difficult to blame Ron Dennis or others at McLaren for the lack of a title sponsor in the range of $50M but then again, if you were looking for that, there’s no one better than Zak to find one. 

The appointment is all part of a major restructuring the company says it is going through and that smacks of Ferrari’s words after firing much of their senior management including it’s CEO, Luca di Montezemolo. I still feel that Zak would have been good as the CMO for F1 new owners but in reality, they may have their own person in mind for that and being a part of a fantastic team like McLaren is not a bad gig if you can get it. 

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Tim C.

Zak is a good addition to McLaren. Any team on the grid (aside from maybe Ferrari) would welcome him and his talents. Great choice. Wouldn’t it have been interesting to see Ron and Zak at McLaren next season.

Paul KieferJr

“Major restructuring”? That smacks of Chapter 11 reorganization. O_O!


I guess we’ll never know the politics and manoeuvres that have happened behind the scenes, but Zak Brown has been involved with McLaren for at least 5years running their cars in the GT series, and for who knows how long through his marketing business. A couple of things come to mind, 1) if there is a big sponsorship opportunity out there for McLaren, why hasn’t Brown been able to find that acting as a consultant? And 2) who approached who about Brown joining McLaren and partially replacing Ron Dennis, and when did the discussions start? Yes! Ron-gate, the truth must… Read more »

charlie white

It seems the only way for an American to break into Formula-1 is through the management route now.


The more I think about this, the more I’m convinced that Zak Brown is exactly the person that McLaren needs. You can’t go racing with empty sidepods forever, not even if you’re McLaren, and no one knows the motorsports marketing game any better than Mr. Brown. Jakobusvdl brings up a good point about why he hasn’t been able to provide one so far if he’s been a consultant for McLaren, but it all depends on what the level of involvement was with the team. Finding a primary sponsor at the level required for Formula 1 is a serious amount of… Read more »