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Zak Brown confirmed as new Executive Director at McLaren

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Zak Brown will add another new title to his ever-expanding portfolio of motorsports projects, as he is set to take on a senior management role with McLaren Technology Group from 2017.

Brown has been confirmed as Executive Director, MTG, starting in a to-be-determined date next year. Figure it will be mid-January though at the earliest, because of his drawdown of one of his existing commitments and with Ron Dennis on gardening leave until the new year.

In a statement, McLaren confirmed Brown’s responsibilities:

In this senior role, Zak’s appointment will be a significant part of a restructuring programme that will align the Group’s commercial and strategic operations relating to achieving success in Formula 1.

Reporting directly to McLaren Technology Group’s Executive Committee, both Jonathan Neale (Chief Operating Officer) and Zak Brown (Executive Director) will jointly lead the businesses as part of the first step in the Group’s transition to a new and strengthened organisational structure. The process of identifying and recruiting a new Group Chief Executive Officer will continue.

“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,” Brown said in the release.

“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.

“As founder of Just Marketing International (JMI) – now the world’s largest motorsport marketing agency – I’ve often worked closely with McLaren as I say, and I’ve developed some excellent relationships across the company. Together we’ve delivered some great sponsorship deals, including Johnnie Walker, GSK, Hilton, Lenovo, Chandon and NTT.

“Best of all, in my new role I’ll be able to combine my absolute passion with my unparalleled area of expertise – respectively motorsport and marketing – while ensuring that the two stay totally aligned.”

The aforementioned combination Brown mentions is linked in his other business roles. He also serves as chairman of Motorsport.com (the website which has acquired a number of extra platforms in recent months, most notably the Autosport & Haymarket Media Group’s motor racing portfolio, and over the weekend, Motors TV, among others), and team co-owner and chairman of United Autosports, now takes on this role with McLaren.

He is founder/CEO of Just Marketing International (JMI), but JMI’s parent company Chime Communications confirmed in September he’d step down from Group CEO there at year’s end.

This latest role for Brown comes in the wake of McLaren’s managerial shakeup, with last week’s announcement Dennis would step down from his senior roles and go on gardening leave.

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.