McLaren appoints new executive director as part of shake-up

FILE - In this Friday, March 12, 2010 file photo, McLaren Automotive executive chairman Ron Dennis looks on, during the second training session at the Formula One Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain. Dennis, the veteran head of the McLaren Formula One team, has been forced out following a boardroom dispute. The announcement on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 brings to an end Dennis' 36-year stay with the British team, relinquishing his position as chairman and chief executive of one of Formula One's most successful teams. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)
Luca Bruno/AP

WOKING, England (AP) A man considered one of the commercial experts in Formula One has been hired as executive director of McLaren as part of a shakeup of the British team following the departure of Ron Dennis.

McLaren announced Monday that Zak Brown, an American who founded marketing company JMI and is an ex-Formula Three racer, will take up his new role next month.

Dennis, McLaren's chairman and chief executive, last week failed in a bid at London's High Court to stop the team's board from placing him on gardening leave until his contract expires in January.

McLaren said Brown's appointment ''will be a significant part of a restructuring program that will align the group's commercial and strategic operations relating to achieving success in Formula 1.''

Brown said his work at JMI, a large motorsport marketing agency, meant he dealt closely with McLaren and allowed him to develop relationships in the company.

The team is continuing its search for a new chief executive to replace Dennis, who has been with McLaren for 36 years. Dennis stood down as McLaren team principal in 2009 but returned as chief executive five years later.

Dennis oversaw the historic tussle for the F1 title between McLaren drivers Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in 1988 and 1989, before Mika Hakkinen clinched back-to-back championships with the Woking-based team in 1998 and 1999. Lewis Hamilton also won his first title in only his second year in the sport as a McLaren driver in 2008.

McLaren's success has dried up in recent years, and its renewed relationship with Japanese engine manufacturer Honda has failed to provide a return to winning ways.