McLaren’s Sam Michael to quit F1
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 fullling 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.