Speaking Thursday at the Autosport International show in Birmingham, Brown confirmed McLaren’s positive outlook.
“We’re very eager to get to Australia,” said the McLaren boss.
“We’ve obviously had a significant power deficit that we think Renault will fix for us and that should get us back towards the front of the field.
“What slot I don’t know, but it will be towards the front.
“We had a really good chassis last year. We know the majority of what we put on the chassis over the year correlated and worked,” added the American executive.
“The improvement that you saw over the year, the most significant part of that was our chassis development.”
Being powered by an engine which achieved three race wins last season – with Red Bull Racing – provides an obvious boost to McLaren’s prospects.
“They’ve got the power,” Brown said of Renault. “Though they’ve got some reliability issues when they turn the power up.
“Mexico was a setting issue, but Max [Verstappen] did win the race in pretty dominant fashion, so they’ve got a fast engine.
“I actually think the top three are pretty close, and have all won races last year, so there’s clearly not that big of a deficit between them.
“We have some areas we can improve, we’re not perfect, but the lack of power was the single biggest area of weakness, so I think when we get the Renault in the back we should see a substantial difference in Australia.
“We’re happy with our working relationship with Renault, and we should hopefully get back to where people are used to seeing McLaren at the front of the field.
“We think we can be on the podium, but it’s tough,” he said.