Zak Brown: F1 can learn from the Super Bowl

Flyover by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels prior to the start of Super Bowl 50 between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. Andrew Hancock for ESPN

McLaren's new executive director Zak Brown says Formula One should aim to turn each grand prix into an occasion as big as the NFL's Super Bowl.

Brown has experience in motorsport marketing and had been linked to a role with F1's incoming owners Liberty Media before taking his new job on the commercial side of McLaren last month. The Californian businessman believes the sport needs to do a better job of promoting itself in order to achieve the growth Liberty has in mind, and says F1 could learn a lot from the prestigious Super Bowl.

"I think we need to take a look at the weekend format and how F1 engages with the consumers in the grandstands, and how close can we get them to our teams on site," Brown said. "We go to these cities and it needs to be a big event leading up to it.

"The Super Bowl does an excellent job. When they put on a Super Bowl they have a high level of fan engagement, come in to town and take over the cities, the hotels and the airport. We've got 21 Super Bowls that we put on across the world, so I'd like to see that in market."

Brown hopes Liberty will also put more emphasis on expanding F1's digital content when it takes full control early next year.

"Then we have digital -- that we all talk about -- and it's a fast paced environment where what worked today may or may not work tomorrow. Given that Liberty has a media-centric background - specifically Chase [Carey, CEO] has a media background - I've got high expectations that they will do great things in the media space, which is ultimately how we reach the largest audience we can."

Had Brown taken a job with Liberty he may have been at the centre of such decisions, but even in his new role he is confident he will have an impact on the sport through its decision-making bodies. McLaren has a full-time seat on the Strategy Group, which exists to formulate the long-term direction of F1, and Brown is hopeful he can use that as a forum to get his views across.

"Hopefully now I'll have a louder voice [in F1] -- being an American everyone expects me to be loud - but it will be about just having a seat at the table and sharing my views. I think business, whether it's McLaren or Formula One, you can always improve and so I'm going to push areas where I think it will be better for all of us. I'm super excited about it, I think Formula One has tonnes of growth opportunity and I want to personally and professionally contribute to that."