Brown expects 'substantial' gains with Renault
12 January 2018 – McLaren chief Zak Brown says the operation can expect a "substantial difference" in performance this season amid its alliance with new power unit partner Renault.
McLaren has ditched Honda after three years plagued by a lack of reliability and performance to link up with Renault, as it strives to move up the Formula 1 grid.
Speaking at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, Brown expressed optimism that Renault has addressed the issues which influenced its 2017 campaign, and is expecting to profit from its gains.
"Renault has got the power, [they had] some reliability issues when they turned the power up," he said.
"Mexico was a setting issue, Max [Verstappen] did win the race in a pretty dominant fashion, so they've got a fast engine.
"They've identified a few areas of reliability weakness, I think the engine race is very close between all three, I don't think engines are the biggest issue in Formula 1.
"The top three are pretty close and have all won races last year so they're clearly not that big of a deficit between those three – Honda has some catching up to do – but we're pretty confident.
"We're not perfect, we certainly have room to improve, our pit stops aren't good enough, we need to be top three, so we have some areas we can improve.
"But the lack of power was our single biggest area of weakness so I think when we get the Renault in the back we should see a substantial difference in Australia."
Brown also denied suggestions that Fernando Alonso had issued an ultimatum over engine partners, and asserted that no promises have been given to the Spaniard over 2018 expectations.
"There was a lot of talk about him giving us ultimatums but that was never the case," he said.
"He just wanted us to be competitive [and] I think he would have stayed if we felt we'd been competitive staying where we were, I think he would have bought into that.
"He really enjoys the team, he pushes everyone, when he comes into the garage everyone raises their game.
"We haven't made him any promises other than we want to get back to the front, he knows that, he knows what we're capable of.
"He has great history with Renault, we want to get back to the front, our interests are aligned."