BROWN SET TO TAKE OVER AT MCLAREN
Final win for German manufacturer as Porsche’s Jani, Lieb and Dumas seal title
Formula 1 commercial expert Zak Brown has accepted an offer to join Mclaren as its executive director.
Mclaren last week placed current CEO Dennis on gardening leave following weeks of boardroom turmoil between the firm’s major stakeholders. Dennis’s contract runs out in January, at which point he will leave the organisation, but will still retain a shareholding.
Dennis owns 25 per cent of Mclaren, with long-term business partner Mansour Ojjeh owning an equal measure and the Bahraini investment fund Mumtalakat owning the other 50 per cent.
Reports suggest the relationship between the Bahrainis and Dennis broke down following a failed takeover bid from Dennis and a consortium of Chinese investors.
Mclaren appears to have found a successor in the form of American businessman Brown, who is of particular interest because of his sponsorship successes in F1 through his former role at JMI (Just Marketing International).
Mclaren has lacked any form of title sponsor since Vodafone ended its contract at the end of 2013.
Brown, a former professional racing driver himself, also had an offer on the table to join new Formula 1 owner Liberty Media, but has opted for Mclaren. He will work alongside Mclaren chief operating officer Jonathan Neale.
Brown said: “I’m immensely proud to be joining Mclaren Technology Group. I have the utmost respect and admiration for what the business has achieved to date, and I look forward to contributing to the next important phase in its development.
“Having worked closely with Mclaren for many years, I’ve been struck by the talent and ambition of the entire workforce, and I very much look forward to complementing the business’s many existing strengths, and building on them to drive future success in everything we do.”
Audi bowed out of the FIA World Endurance Championship with a dominant one-two finish in last weekend’s Six Hours of Bahrain, as the Porsche crew of Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas sealed the drivers’ title.
Loic Duval, Lucas di Grassi and Briton Oliver Jarvis took their second WEC victory to claim second in the title race. Both Audi R18 e-tron quattros spent the majority of the weekend on top, with Duval leading the early stages of the race from pole ahead of the sister car.
Andre Lotterer took control after passing Jarvis following the first round of stops, but a slow pit stop later would set the number seven Audi back to second. A mid-race full course yellow allowed Audi to split its strategies, with Benoit Treluyer putting the number seven ahead again. But Duval opted to double-stint his tyres to the flag and caught and passed the sister car.
“There’s no sweeter way to end such a project than with a 1-2 victory,” said Audi Sport boss Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. “It was a very emotional race and the entire WEC made it very difficult for us to quit.
“Today, you could tell that we’ve grown into a big family over many years. What happened in the WEC will not repeat itself. These 18 years of the sportscar project have been a very important part of my professional life and I have been very fortunate to work alongside such fantastic people.”
Jarvis added: “We had a fantastic year and the weekend was very emotional and it’s the perfect conclusion to Audi’s sportscar programme. Now we’re leaving the WEC in the hands of two very strong teams – Toyota and Porsche. Audi will be missed by many, but the championship is incredibly strong nonetheless.”
Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber took third place in what was Webber’s final professional race before his retirement from the sport. Dumas, Jani and Lieb secured the title in sixth place, finishing three laps down after a collision with a GT car.
The two Toyotas took fourth and fifth to split the Porsches.
The Jota Sport-run G-drive ORECA fought from the back of the grid to win the LMP2 division. Alex Brundle, Rene Rast and Roman Rusinov lost their pole position to a technical infringement but recovered to win their third-straight WEC event.
Aston Martin’s Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen wrapped up the GT drivers’ title with victory in the GTE Pro class. The Proton Racing Porsche of Khaled Al Qubaisi, David Heinemeier-hansson and Patrick Long won GTE AM.
Brown has agreed deal
Champions Lieb, Dumas and Jani (L-R) Audi ended on a high with a one-two Second win of season for Audi