Zak Brown: No conflict of interests

zak brown

Zak Brown has been in Formula 1 for some time now, toiling behind the scenes but he has come to headline grabbing prominence since he was appointed Executive Director at McLaren late last year while his involvement with a major motorsport news organisation has raised eyebrows.

He is now firmly entrenched as part of the management team at Woking tasked with leading the former champions back to the top in Formula 1.

However, perhaps less well known, is that he is also chairman of the fast-growing Miami-based Motorsport Network which has been accused of becoming “the grand colonial master of the motor racing reportage” with it’s aggressive expansion.

The multi-lingual media platform includes the Motorsport.com and Autosport websites, as well as F1 Racing magazine, Motorsport.TV and photographic archives going back to the championship’s early years.

It also has a stake in Formula E, the electric series in which McLaren Applied Technologies will be battery supplier from next year, and is building close ties to Formula 1’s new owners Liberty Media.

There is a school of thought that the overlaps pose a conflict of interest for Brown, who holds an executive role at publications that write about his team.

But he sees it differently, “I work and help the company on the business side, not the editorial side. If you look at Autosport, we’ve had good headlines and bad headlines. I’m not contributing to things editorially.”

“Is it a conflict that (Red Bull owner) Dietrich (Mateschitz) owns the Austrian GP? The sport loves finding conflicts or creating conflicts. Sometimes they are really there, sometimes they aren’t.”

The former head of CSM Sport & Entertainment introduced sponsors around the paddock in his former existence and is known as a dealmaker. That is one reason why McLaren, who have lost some key backers, brought him in.

“I’ve known (Red Bull team boss) Christian Horner for 20 years. (Mercedes motorsport head) Toto (Wolff) and I have done deals. I’ve done deals with Ferrari. (Williams chief executive) Mike O’Driscoll used to sit on my advisory board,” he said.

“I’ve got great relationships up and down pitlane … when I joined here I thought I don’t want to lose those relationships and I haven’t,” added Brown.

Big Question: Is Zak’s dual role as team chief and boss of a motorsport media organisation a conflict of interest?