All change at the top as Dennis leaves McLaren

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

An in­terim man­age­ment struc­ture is put in place, with Zak Brown and Jonathan Neale tak­ing charge of McLaren’s day-to-day run­ning

McLaren face a pe­riod of man­age­ment up­heaval fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of Ron Dennis from his role at the helm of the com­pany.

Dennis, 69, tech­ni­cally re­mains as chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive, but has been put on ‘gar­den­ing leave’ pend­ing the end of his con­tract in mid-Jan­uary, and is no longer play­ing an ac­tive role in the run­ning of the com­pany. McLaren have ap­pointed Zak Brown as an ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and have an­nounced an in­terim man­age­ment struc­ture. Brown, who also has a non-ex­ec­u­tive role at Mo­tor­sport Net­work, F1 Rac­ing’s par­ent com­pany, at­tended the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with McLaren, but did not of­fi­cially start work for them un­til De­cem­ber.

McLaren are now run by an ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, made up of 50 per cent share­hold­ers Mum­ta­lakat, the in­vest­ment arm of the King­dom of Bahrain, and 25 per cent share­holder Man­sour Oj­jeh of TAG, who en­gi­neered Dennis’ de­par­ture. Dennis re­mains as a 25 per cent share­holder. Mum­ta­lakat and Oj­jeh have em­pow­ered Brown and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Jonathan Neale to run the busi­ness on a day-to-day ba­sis. This com­pli­cates the sit­u­a­tion of McLaren Rac­ing’s new CEO, Jost Capito, who joined the team in Septem­ber and whose con­tract dic­tates that he re­port to the chief ex­ec­u­tive of McLaren Group, Ron Dennis, who no longer works there.

Tech­ni­cally, Capito now re­ports to the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee but, as Neale put it: “I liken it to the cabi­net sec­re­tary role where there are per­ma­nent heads of their re­spec­tive func­tions and some­body has to co-or­di­nate the day-to-day ac­tiv­ity. So Zak and I have limited au­thor­ity from that ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, and can ful­fil those du­ties un­der gov­er­nance given to me by them.” So Neale and Brown run the McLaren Group to­gether, with Neale fo­cus­ing on tech­ni­cal and sport­ing mat­ters and Brown on mar­ket­ing and com­merce. Capito runs McLaren Rac­ing but will work with Neale on the sport­ing side, with Brown tak­ing charge of mar­ket­ing and money rais­ing, the lat­ter hav­ing been a prob­lem for McLaren in re­cent years. But Capito is plan­ning to re­or­gan­ise the F1 side, which may cause con­flict with rac­ing di­rec­tor Eric Boul­lier, who has been re­struc­tur­ing the team over the past two years.

Capito told the BBC: “Lots of changes have to be done, but with changes you al­ways have to be care­ful about how and when. I had talks with many em­ploy­ees, from the cleaner to the rac­ing di­rec­tor, and I think I know what has to be done, and mainly there has to be a cul­tural change. It has to be­come more of a race team again.”

Boul­lier struc­tured McLaren Rac­ing around the tech­ni­cal lead­er­ship of Peter Pro­dro­mou, Matt Mor­ris and Tim Goss. They work to­gether, with Pro­dro­mou over­see­ing aero, Mor­ris the de­sign of­fice, and Goss in charge of sys­tems and ad­vanced en­gi­neer­ing. But there is no over­all tech­ni­cal leader. Capito said it was “too early” to say whether he would change that, but it is be­lieved that he will. He also de­clined to give a date for when any changes would be an­nounced.

Capito said he ex­pected McLaren to make a step for­ward next year af­ter climb­ing from ninth to sixth in the con­struc­tors’ stand­ings in 2016.

“I ex­pect im­prove­ment on the car from McLaren and a big step from Honda on the en­gine,” he said. “It is a very good part­ner­ship and the Honda guys un­der­stand more what is needed from the chas­sis side and we un­der­stand more what is needed from the en­gine side. I ex­pect not just the im­prove­ment of each but also the im­prove­ment of the over­all re­la­tion­ship.”

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