McLaren 'bullish' about 2017 prospects, says Zak Brown
New arrival Zak Brown eyes repeat of team's 2015-16 winter leap
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 15/12/16 3:38pm
McLaren are in "bullish" mood heading into Formula 1's 2017 rules refresh, according to new chief Zak Brown.
F1's once-mighty superpowers are targeting a move back towards the front-runners next season after four years without a victory, believing the overhaul of the aerodynamic rules present them with the chance to make up significant ground.
Brown, McLaren's new executive director, started work at Woking this month and is encouraged by what he has seen so far about the team's plans for next season's MP4-32 car.
"Everyone is very excited," the American told Sky Sports.
"I've been walked through the car in detail, and now seen all the reports from this year's car and where they have found areas of improvement, so everyone is feeling very bullish going into next year."
McLaren finished sixth in this year's Constructors' Championship, an improvement of three places on 2015's disastrous campaign, but are still yet to finish on the podium since reuniting with Honda.
But Brown is optimistic the step forward of last winter can at least be replicated this time round.
"They [the team] showed great progress this year," he added.
"The last couple of years have been difficult, but this year they had a good race car. Honda is putting out some good power and if we can make the same leap from 2015 to 2016 to '16 to '17, we are well on our way."
Brown, whose background is in marketing, identified bringing an end to McLaren's long search for a title sponsor as one of his key priorities when he spoke to the media on his first appearance with the team at the Abu Dhabi GP.
He has targeted 2018 as the year for a deal to come into place and says initial discussions with potential backers are proving positive.
"I'm in talks with lots of people," confirmed Brown. "2017 is not realistic but 2018 is not far away by any stretch, so we're going to focus on big companies, brands, like-minded companies and we certainly have some great conversations, but early conversations."