McLaren: Zak Brown says he owes position to Ron Dennis

Zak Brown of McLaren talks to F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone
Brown was seen chatting to F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone during first practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
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New McLaren boss Zak Brown says he owes his position to Ron Dennis.

Executive director Brown said Dennis initiated his arrival before he was forced out of the company.

"Ron at the end of the day is the one who recruited me," said Brown at his first official engagement for McLaren at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

"The last couple of years he left the door open. He turned up the volume in pursuit of me. I wouldn't be talking to you right now if it wasn't for him."

Dennis, who retains the roles of chairman and chief executive of McLaren for now, has been put on gardening leave pending the end of his contract in mid-January.

From that point, Dennis's only involvement will be as a 25% shareholder and board member. He will have no active role in running the company.

Brown left his role as boss of the sports marketing agency JMI in September and chose the McLaren role over one working for new F1 owners Liberty Media, who are in the process of taking over the commercial rights of the sport.

Ron Dennis and Fernando Alonso
Dennis (right, with Fernando Alonso) has been placed on gardening leave pending the end of his contract

Brown said he chose McLaren because he had been a lifelong fan and his task was to "be part of a team that gets back to winning world championships".

He said saw McLaren's task as three-fold - attract more fans and more sponsorship and thereby raise the money needed to succeed.

Dennis' failure to find a title sponsor for the last three years was one of the reasons for his departure, but Brown has a reputation as F1's foremost sponsor-finder.

He said he and chief operating officer Jonathan Neale were jointly responsible for "the collective efforts of running the F1 both commercial and motorsports operations".

"I have more of a commercial background. Jonathan has a technical background," Brown said.

"The two of us are working very closely together on the phone and we report to the executive committee, which is made up of Sheikh Mohammed and Mansour Ojjeh."

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That makes him senior to McLaren Racing's new chief executive Jost Capito, who joined the company in September from his former position as head of Volkswagen Motorsport.

There are reports of friction between Capito and McLaren's racing director Eric Boullier, but Brown said it was too early to say whether any changes were needed.

"I have not started yet," Brown said. "I don't know what I don't know.

"Jonathan is much closer to the technical side so we are going to be sitting down and working out what's the best way for McLaren to get into the winners' circle."

Brown said he had "no idea" how long it would take McLaren to return to winning ways but "I just hope it is sooner rather than later".

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