McLaren are wary about setting specific targets for F1 2018 but made clear „we need to get back to the front“ with Renault engines.
Having terminated their Honda engine deal after three painful seasons with the Japanese manufacturer, McLaren are starting afresh from this year with a supply of Renault power and are eyeing a return to podium contention.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1, Brown says it is imperative that McLaren re-establish themselves as front-runners.
„We are one of the big teams, we need to get back to the front,“ he replied when asked if anything but a top-four Constructors‘ Championship finish in 2018 would be a failure.
„We haven’t, and certainly won’t publicly, set any expectations because that’s dangerous.
„We are coming off ninth in the championship so I can promise you we’ll be doing better than that but that’s the ball park we need to be.
„We expect to be challenging towards the front.“
He added: „We think we’ll have a competitive race car so I think you’re going to see Fernando [Alonso] and Stoffel [Vandoorne] racing each other hard – which will be exciting as long as they don’t take each other off! – and hopefully we’re fighting for podiums. I hope that’s the top step.“
But McLaren, whose last race win came over five years ago, accept that breaking the race-winning dominance of F1’s three leading teams is „going to be very difficult“.
„Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull are awesome teams that have significant budgets which hopefully will get addressed in the new deal [from 2021], but that’s still a few years away,“ said Brown.
„So we’re going to chase them hard and hope that we’re spraying some champagne.“
McLaren broke with recent livery tradition for 2017 by revealing a striking scheme which featured orange on their cars for the first time since 1971.
But speculation that the more traditional papaya orange McLaren colour, the one used on Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-branded Andretti car for the Indy 500 last May, could return for 2018 has since swirled.
Brown is promising a different look for the latest car, in addition to the arrival of several sponsors.
„I think they [the fans] are going to like what our car looks like,“ he predicted. „We’ll have some new partners on board.
„We’ve signed a few and we will start announcing in January, But the car won’t look like it did [in 2017].“