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F1 Abu Dhabi GP: Zak Brown targets McLaren title sponsor for F1 2018

“It's not an inexpensive sponsorship but it is great value and global, so when you break it down it's money very well spent."
New McLaren Executive Officer Zak Brown is confident he can entice a new title sponsor to the McLaren-Honda F1 team by 2018, saying he believes the sport remains 'great value'.

The 45 year-old American is set to play an integral part in replacing outgoing CEO and Chairman Ron Dennis, whose 36 year tenure within the company came to an abrupt end last week when he was on gardening leave by fellow shareholders.

Set to assume his new Executive Officer position in January, Brown has already stated one of his primary objectives is to source a new title sponsor to McLaren as part of a cyclical process that will focus on increasing the brand's fan engagement.

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“I don't think there is a No.1 [job to focus on], I think there are three legs to the stool and we need all three to be successful,” he told media at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. “First is the fans, we as McLaren and F1 as a whole, could improve our engagement with the consumers.

“The more fans we get, the more sponsors we get, the more fans buying our sponsors products and services, and then the more sponsors we get the more money we get to put in our race team to go faster. Then the faster we go the more fans we get because they like them running at the front.

“I think all three of those are critically important and we need to get all three right. Getting just one right won't make the whole 'eco-system' work.”

McLaren has been without a title sponsor since Vodafone pulled its backing at the end of the 2012 season, while its revenue has been hit further by a drop in prize money on the back of uncompetitive recent seasons.

Despite this, Brown says he is convinced McLaren has the brand power to lure new backers going forward, even if he admits it may not see a title sponsor come forward until 2018.

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“It's a difficult environment for all of us,” he continued. “Red Bull had a title sponsor, they don't now. Ferrari go about things a little bit differently and then obviously Mercedes has been fortunate enough to have a title partner for some time. I think there are some serious headwinds out there in this world – whether it's Brexit or the US election – so it's a difficult environment.

“It's not an inexpensive sponsorship but it is great value and global, so when you break it down it's money very well spent. But I've not been on the inside, so I don't know how many near misses there have been and we've had a couple of close opportunities. So it's hard, it's very hard. By no means do I have a magic wand and think that having a title sponsor in 2018 is going to be an easy feat.

“I'm positive we are going to bring in new partners, we have for the last 22 years in motorsport and the last 12 in Formula One. I'd like to think the well hasn't run dry in our talent in doing that, but it's a competitive sport on and off the track so everyone at times talks to each other's sponsors and it's not unusual to see sponsors move. I don't think that will be any different moving forward.”

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