Mclaren poach Volkswagen rally chief
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.