Zak Brown: It’s a little awkward for me

McLaren executive director Zak Brown has revealed how Ron Dennis actively pursued him to join the organisation and when he did, ironically, it was to replace the team supremo who had been at the helm of for over a quarter of a century.

Brown told Sky, “Ron and I have known each other, and I’ve known McLaren, for over a decade now. The relationship got started around two sponsors we brought in, Johnnie Walker and Hilton, who are both still with the team.”

“We built a very good relationship over the years and Ron had always left the door open, certainly in more recent years, to come and join and I always had an obligation to JMI and CSM, which I sold in 2013.”

“As I was nearing the end of my agreement, I let Ron know and then those conversations went from pat on the back ‘why don’t you come and join?’ to paper and offers in front of me. That started in the early part of [2016] because I knew that I wanted to get back into motorsports full-time.”

“So ultimately Ron pursued me and it would have been working alongside him, under him. He then put me forward to the other shareholders and fortunately for me all three were unanimous in their support of it being a good idea for me to join the team. A lot of what I’m doing now, Ron asked me to do, so my job’s not a whole lot different.”

As for replacing the man who built McLaren and led the team to so much success, Brown admitted, “It’s a little awkward for me if I’m being brutally honest. I have a tremendous amount of respect for all three shareholders. I’ve got great relationships with all three shareholders. I’m proud to work for all three shareholders, so when they’re not getting along that’s not comfortable all the time because you want to make them all happy.”

“I figured the best way for me to do that is get my head down helping the team get back to being world champions, because while they may be having disagreements amongst them, they all agree that we need to win world championships.”

“So I’m going to keep my head down, keep my relationship with all shareholders. It’s very good with Ron. We speak often, so I’m in a good place but it’ll be a little uncomfortable at times.”

As for the future, Brown is optimistic, “Everyone is very excited. I’ve been walked through the car in detail, and now seen all the reports from the 2016 car and where they have found areas of improvement, so everyone is feeling very bullish.”

“The last couple of years have been difficult, but [in 2016] they had a good race car. Honda is putting out some good power and if we can make the same leap that we made from 2015 to 2016, to ’16 to 2017, we are well on our way.”