Formula One

Brown: McLaren undermined by ‘total lack of trust’ before my arrival


McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown has revealed how he he found a team inhibited by internal trust issues when he arrived at Woking at the end of 2016.

From the boardroom to the work floors of the McLaren Technology Center, an atmosphere of wariness pervaded McLaren back then according to Brown.

An internal strife between former CEO Ron Dennis and long-time partner and shareholder Mansour Ojjeh had descended into acrimony while on the track, McLaren’s ill-fated partnership with Honda had reduced the team to a pale shadow of its former self.

“In terms of morale, there was a total lack of trust within the organisation,” remembered Brown.

“Everyone was kind of guilty until proven innocent from internal ways of working. So there wasn’t any teamwork.

“I think it started at the top in the sense of there was so much going on at the board level, that there wasn’t any adult supervision on the F1 team, because everyone was trying to buy each other out.

“So I think it didn’t have the leadership.”

Brown had initially been hired by Dennis as an executive director entrusted with McLaren’s marketing department.

But the Briton’s demise and exit in January 2017 eventually prompted Mansour Ojjeh and the team’s majority shareholders to give the reins of the team to Brown.

“I don’t think that was any one person’s fault,” said Brown, referring to the power struggle that took place in the boardroom between Dennis and Ojjeh.

“It was just more a situation where you have a board that’s not getting along, and that’s going to roll down the hill quickly. But there was a lot of lack of trust and confidence.

“I knew there were a lot of world championships and race wins within the racing team. And it was just about getting everyone collaborating and working together and believing.

“That took a little bit of time, and now we’re at a really good place in essence.”

Brown says the McLaren Group and its racing and road car divisions now sit on a stable and solid foundation, with a lot of positive interaction between the two affiliates.

“It’s very clean, very clear,” he commented. “You have a racing board, and a group board. The racing board makes the racing decisions, and the group board makes the automotive decisions.

“Michael Leiters, who’s the CEO of automotive, and I get along. He came from Ferrari. We sit on each other’s board meetings. So the collaboration between automotive and racing is excellent.

“It’s also clear I report to the executive chairman Paul Walsh, who’s also the executive chairman of automotive. And on the racing board, we now have very experienced people that know sport and know motor racing.

“They are the type of board you’d want to have as a CEO, because they understand how quickly the sport moves, how quickly you need to make decisions, and how the game works.

“So I feel extremely supported. Anything that I’ve needed from the board they’ve supported me on. The way it works is very, very good.”

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Brown: McLaren undermined by ‘total lack of trust’ before my arrival

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