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McLaren appoints Ben Priest as vice president, Americas to push commercial efforts in the U.S.

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The McLaren Group has announced the appointment of Ben Priest as its new vice president, Americas – Partnership Development to spearhead the company’s focus on commercial interests in the United States.

McLaren is currently going through a period of change following the resignation of long-running chairman Ron Dennis at the end of last year.

Dennis spent 35 years at the helm of McLaren, but was replaced by American commercial expert Zak Brown, who became executive director.

On Thursday, McLaren announced the arrival of Priest in a new role, having previously worked with Brown at marketing agency JMI.

“Based in New York and reporting to CEO Ekrem Sami, Ben joins the Partner Development team at McLaren Marketing, the global sports and technology brand’s dedicated in-house activation agency,” a statement from McLaren reads.

“Tasked with developing innovative partnerships for McLaren throughout his territory, with a particular focus on Silicon Valley as the spiritual heart of the US technology and innovation industry, Ben brings to McLaren his considerable marketing agency expertise.

“Most recently Vice President of Business Development at a leading New York agency that represents many iconic athletes, Ben has spent the majority of his career in motorsport.

“After co-founding his own agency, he previously led the North America Partnership Development division for JMI, the largest global motorsport marketing agency, and was involved in consulting the entry to motor racing for several of the most prominent new brands in recent years.

“His appointment forms a key part of an ambitious global marketing strategy aimed at utilising the global reach and power of McLaren as an iconic sports and technology brand that now includes its fast-growing McLaren Applied Technologies business.”

“I’d like to welcome Ben to McLaren as part of our ambitious global marketing strategy,” Brown said.

“He brings with him considerable expertise that will help us unlock new business in the US and, in particular Silicon Valley, where there are fantastic, untapped opportunities for our brand.”

“I’m extremely excited and proud to be joining the team at McLaren,” Priest added.

“I have a great deal of respect for the company both as a race team and, increasingly, as an exciting technology brand with innovation at the heart of everything we do.

“North America, and the US in particular, presents a fantastic growth opportunity for us, and one which I’m already very focused on exploring.”

Brown recently spoke to NBC Sports about the need for Formula 1 to grow its presence in the United States, believing that a second race would help its efforts to crack into a market brimming with potential.

Priest’s appointment marries up with Brown’s focus on the United States, and comes at a time when McLaren is lacking a title sponsor that could add an injection of cash to its F1 efforts.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.