With Honda power, the once-great British team had an abysmal three years to 2017, but for this year McLaren has switched to customer Renault power.
Team executive Brown is even predicting possible race wins.
“Last year was the worst in the history of McLaren,” he told CNBC, an American broadcaster that has joined McLaren as sponsor.
“The last three years have been very painful,” Brown added.
The American is a sponsorship expert, and he has explained that ending the dire Honda relationship was necessary in order to try to compete again with top F1 team budgets.
“It’s an expensive sport — we’re not able to compete financially with the top two teams,” Brown admitted.
“We’re still definitely one of the top four teams. We need to continue to improve there to put as much resource into our race team as possible.
“If we can get all of that right we’re going to start to move up the grid significantly.
“I think you’ll see us leap to the front in Australia,” he said.