Capito leaves McLaren in man­age­ment shake-up

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

Newly re­cruited F1 chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer clears desk af­ter less than four months in the role, fol­low­ing a board­room reshuf­fle

Jost Capito has left McLaren Rac­ing less than four months af­ter be­ing re­cruited as CEO. The for­mer head of Volk­swa­gen mo­tor­sport started work at McLaren in Septem­ber af­ter be­ing signed by chair­man Ron Den­nis in Jan­uary 2016. It had taken Capito nine months to se­cure his de­par­ture from his pre­vi­ous role.

Capito, 58, was seen as a Den­nis hire, and fell prey to the board­room bat­tles that re­sulted in Den­nis him­self be­ing forced out. Capito’s exit be­came ap­par­ent be­fore Christ­mas, but there has been no for­mal conrma­tion from the team.

Den­nis’s con­tract as chair­man and CEO of the McLaren Group will not be re­newed when it ex­pires in mid-Jan­uary. He is a non-ex­ec­u­tive chair­man and a 25% share­holder but will no longer have an ac­tive role in run­ning McLaren.

Capito’s de­par­ture fol­lows the recruitment of F1 mar­ket­ing ex­pert Zak Brown as McLaren Group’s new ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. Brown and COO Jonathan Neale have been em­pow­ered to run McLaren on a day-to-day ba­sis by the new ex­ec­u­tive board, which car­ries nal au­thor­ity. This is com­posed of 50 per cent share­hold­ers Mum­ta­lakat, the in­vest­ment arm of the King­dom of Bahrain, and TAG’s Man­sour Oj­jeh – a long­time as­so­ciate of Den­nis, with whom he has now fallen out – who owns 25 per cent.

An­other ef­fect of the man­age­ment reshufe is that long-time McLaren mar­ket­ing chief Ekrem Sami will no longer have a place on the ex­ec­u­tive board, al­though he will re­tain his po­si­tion within the man­age­ment team.

Capito’s de­par­ture means rac­ing di­rec­tor Eric Boul­lier now an­swers di­rectly to Brown and Neale. This is un­likely to af­fect driver ar­range­ments, since Brown, Capito and Boul­lier are all in agree­ment that the team needs to keep hold of Fer­nando Alonso at the end of his con­tract this year. If Alonso de­cides he wants to stay on in F1 af­ter try­ing this year’s cars, he is likely to be of­fered a new two-year deal.

McLaren see the new rules as an op­por­tu­nity to close the gap to the front-run­ning teams, and their man­age­ment re­vamp will give the re­struc­tur­ing of the team, un­der­taken by Boul­lier over the past three years, the rst real chance to prove its worth. How­ever, their com­pet­i­tive­ness will de­pend to some ex­tent on the new en­gine Honda are de­vel­op­ing for the 2017 sea­son.

F1 Rac­ing has learned that the re­vised Honda, which is ex­pected to fol­low the Mercedes de­sign of us­ing the com­pres­sor and tur­bine out­side the vee at op­po­site ends of the en­gine, is even more com­pact than the pre­vi­ous one. Honda’s tar­get is to match Mercedes for out­right per­for­mance in 2017, but in­sid­ers cau­tion that this is un­likely to hap­pen at the start of the sea­son.

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