Mclaren poach Volk­swa­gen rally chief

F1 Racing (UK) - - NEWS -

For­mer Sauber and Ford Mo­tor­sport man Jost Capito to fill the long-va­cant CEO role at Mclaren

Capito is the head of VW’S highly suc­cess­ful rally team, who have won the last three world ti­tles. He is likely to leave VW for Mclaren in April or May

Mclaren will have a new CEO of their For­mula 1 op­er­a­tion be­fore long, fol­low­ing their re­cruit­ment of the head of Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport Jost Capito.

Capito, 57, does not yet have a start date, but will be­come chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Mclaren Rac­ing, re­port­ing to chair­man Ron Den­nis, once he is free of his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to Volk­swa­gen. This is ex­pected to hap­pen in April or May.

Eric Boul­lier re­mains in his po­si­tion as rac­ing di­rec­tor, the de facto head of the F1 team at races. Capito’s role will be to en­sure that Mclaren, as a com­pany, are in a fit state to al­low the team to re­turn to the top level of F1.

His po­si­tion is con­fir­ma­tion of a role that Mclaren said they would fill as long ago as early 2014, fol­low­ing the coup in which Den­nis ousted for­mer team prin­ci­pal Martin Whit­marsh – whose many ti­tles in­cluded the one Capito will now take on. Jonathan Neale, who had filled the

role on a tem­po­rary ba­sis, is now chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of the Mclaren Tech­nol­ogy Group.

Capito is the head of VW’S highly suc­cess­ful rally cam­paign, which has clinched the last three world ti­tles. Be­fore that, he held se­nior po­si­tions at BMW, Porsche, Ford and the Sauber F1 team.

Den­nis de­scribed him as “an ex­tremely im­pres­sive, com­pet­i­tive and am­bi­tious in­di­vid­ual, who comes to us with a very wide range of au­to­mo­tive and mo­tor­sport ex­pe­ri­ence”.

As test­ing started, Honda’s Ya­suhisa Arai (left) was re­placed by Yusuke Hasegawa (right)

But re­turn­ing Mclaren and Honda to win­ning ways will be his big­gest chal­lenge yet. VW’S suc­cess in ral­ly­ing was al­most a given. They had the best car, the best driv­ers and the big­gest bud­get, al­though Capito un­doubt­edly played a role in en­sur­ing that was the case.

Mclaren lack noth­ing in their driver line-up of Fer­nando Alonso and Jen­son But­ton, but they are at the start of a so-far rocky re­la­tion­ship with Honda and are still re­build­ing af­ter pro­duc­ing un­com­pet­i­tive cars in 2013 and ’14.

Fur­ther man­age­ment changes have been made at Honda, with the un­der-fire head of their F1 pro­gramme, Ya­suhisa Arai, be­ing re­placed by Yusuke Hasegawa. The changes come as Arai nears the man­age­ment re­tire­ment age of 60.

His other mo­tor­sport ac­tiv­i­ties will be taken over by head of R&D Kenji Ohtsu, while Yoshiyuki Mat­sumoto has been ap­pointed the su­per­vis­ing di­rec­tor of the F1 pro­ject.

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