F1 News: McLaren is ‘financially healthy’ again, insists Brown

McLaren Formula 1 team CEO Zak Brown insists that the company is back on track financially after a rocky first half of 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Woking outfit made it clear that it needed to secure extra financing in order to help it through the crisis, and also announced that it would trim its staff levels.

In June, the team arranged a loan from Bahrain’s National Bank, and in addition in recent weeks it has announced several new sponsorship deals, including a renewed arrangement with Gulf Oil, previously a partner of the team from 1968 to 1973.

Brown is bullish about the team’s commercial prospects, and insists that more deals will be done. 

“I think we’re in quite a good position now,” he said. “The bad news is behind us, as far as it relates to all the stuff that played out the last couple of months. We’re financially healthy.

“I think we’re benefitting from being aggressive and playing offence when COVID hit as far as recognising the severity of the issues it was going to cause for the sport and for us, and so we ran towards the problems to try and address them quickly, so we can kind of try and turn the page commercially. 

“We’ve just announced Gulf Oil and Iconix, we have are a couple of announcements coming up, so we’re now exactly where we want to be. Looking forward I think we’re sitting on a better business model for F1 and for McLaren for the next journey of F1. We’re in quite a good spot, and spirits are high.”

Brown insisted that recent sponsorship deals represent significant income, and said that companies still want to do business.

“All the deals that we’ve announced are real, substantial, the right size relative to the size of the arrangement,” he said.

“Otherwise I think if you do partnerships in place that aren’t healthy, then it kind of messes up your business plan and bites you in the ass in 12, 24 months time.

“We’ve got our plan, and we’re sticking to it. I think sponsorship is always hard, even in the best of times. I think next year will be soft.

“I am finding unlike the financial crisis in 2008 where everyone just stopped, that people now are dealing with COVID and recognising that we might have to deal with it beyond December 31, and therefore what I’m seeing is people are getting back to business, they’re doing business a little bit differently. Digital and social media, things of that nature, which I think we’re extremely good at, have become that much more important.

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