Zak Brown does not expect McLaren-Honda to return to winning ways during the 2017 Formula 1 season, but the US businessman believes the famed British team can taste victory again the following year.
McLaren has not won a race since a Jenson Button success at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, and its renewed partnership with Honda has yet to live up to expectations despite noticeable progress last year.
The Woking-based outfit has undergone a major management overhaul over the winter, with long-time group chairman Ron Dennis forced to step down while top motorsport marketing expert Brown joined as executive director.
Although racing director Eric Boullier recently hinted at “exciting changes”, Brown still envisions 2017 as the final phase in the team’s recovery.
"We've got the enthusiasm to be winning races and the championship, but I don't think we're there yet with our overall package,” McLaren’s new boss told American journalist Marshall Pruett.
“I think [team members] are all frustrated, as you can imagine, and eager to get back to our winning ways. I don't think our results the last couple years were something that the team is accustomed to. They don't like it. And they want to turn things around.
“At the same time, one step at a time. So while we're doing all the right things I think for success, we need to keep moving up the grid.
“But I would caution [that] we are not going to be winning any races [this] year, I don't anticipate. So we need to be measured on forward progress, as opposed to ultimate results in 2017.”
With Fernando Alonso’s three-year contract up at the end of the season, McLaren-Honda would better be delivering on its promise lest the two-world champion decide to call it a day and head to pastures new.