Capito leaves McLaren in management shake-up
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 conrmation 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 reshufe 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.