It has been sad—almost tragic, in fact—to watch how naked McLaren’s machines have become in recent years.
Competing with mobile billboards just a decade ago, the team have haemorrhaged sponsors left, right and centre to the point where their cars are now almost as bare as the backmarkers.
That long-term partners including Hugo Boss and TAG Heuer have ditched McLaren for rival teams—switching to Mercedes and Red Bull, respectively, in 2015—has only added insult to injury.
But the first cut was by far the deepest—and it is yet to be stitched up.
Following the end of McLaren’s seven-year relationship with Vodafone at the end of 2013, Dennis was determined to avoid settling for a quick fix, even suggesting the concept of title sponsorship was a thing of the past, per Autosport (h/t Eurosport).
Highly reluctant to undersell McLaren—to settle for anything less than the best deal for the team he had come to regard as his own creation—Dennis’ stubbornness arguably contributed to his downfall, but Brown should be far more accessible to potential partners.
In his previous role at Just Marketing International, the leading motorsport marketing agency, Brown was behind some of the biggest deals in the modern era—including Martini’s title sponsorship of Williams, Ferrari’s deal with UPS and McLaren’s agreement with Johnnie Walker, per The Inside Line’s Maurice Hamilton.
As reported by Autosport (h/t Eurosport), Brown fears he has arrived too late to find a new title sponsor—which, in stark contrast to Dennis, he believes is “crucially important”—for next year, with the American hoping to finally find a replacement for Vodafone in time for 2018.
That would broaden the team’s budget and, with any luck, signal the end of that bland, “mutant McLaren-Honda” colour scheme the team have used for the last 18 months.