McLaren’s Sam Michael to quit F1

F1 Racing - - F1 INSIDER -

The team’s sport­ing di­rec­tor an­nounces his de­par­ture after 21 years in F1, as McLaren’s re­struc­ture con­tin­ues

Re­struc­tur­ing at McLaren con­tin­ues as the team seek to make the changes nec­es­sary to re­claim what they feel is their right­ful place at the fore­front of F1.

Now it tran­spires that sport­ing di­rec­tor Sam Michael is to leave the team at the end of 2014, hav­ing ap­par­ently handed in his no­tice in March with the in­ten­tion of leav­ing For­mula 1 and mov­ing back to his na­tive Aus­tralia with his fam­ily. McLaren were keen to em­pha­sise that Michael was still on good terms with both the team and chair­man Ron Den­nis, but that he was leav­ing of his own vo­li­tion, hav­ing de­cided it was time to move on.

“It’s been an awe­some 21 years in F1,” said Michael. “I’ve loved ev­ery minute of the rac­ing and the peo­ple but it’s time to go home and start the next chal­lenge.”

Michael, who started work at McLaren in 2012, was orig­i­nally hired by for­mer team prin­ci­pal Martin Whit­marsh, with a view to him be­ing a fu­ture re­place­ment. But ques­tions were asked about his role in the wake of the re­cruit­ment of Eric Boul­lier as rac­ing di­rec­tor.

The an­nounce­ment of Michael’s de­par­ture co­in­cided with re­ports in Italy that tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Tim Goss and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Jonathan Neale were to be sacked. McLaren de­nied this, say­ing: “They are not leav­ing and there are no plans for them to leave.”

Goss’s role has been in doubt fol­low­ing two un­com­pet­i­tive sea­sons for the team, with the ad­mis­sion by in­sid­ers that McLaren were miss­ing for­mer tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Paddy Lowe – now at Mercedes.

Neale is also un­der scru­tiny, hav­ing held a se­nior role through­out McLaren’s slide from com­pet­i­tive­ness. He has this year been fullling the role of act­ing CEO, a new role cre­ated by Den­nis, which has yet to be lled on a per­ma­nent ba­sis.

Fur­ther move­ments at McLaren in­clude the ac­quis­tion of for­mer Red Bull head of aero­dy­nam­ics Peter Pro­dro­mou – Adrian Newey’s right-hand man for many years – who started his new role as McLaren’s chief en­gi­neer in Septem­ber. The team are keen for him to have as much in­put into the de­sign of the 2015 car as pos­si­ble.

McLaren re­main on the look-out for fur­ther high-cal­i­bre recruitments, hav­ing missed out on James Al­li­son last year. Al­li­son opted to move from Lo­tus to Fer­rari be­cause he felt in­ter­nal com­mand lines at McLaren were fuzzy.

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