There has been some shifting around of roles at McLaren in recent times and the opening up of new horizons with a new base being established in the Middle East.
McLaren is moving forward in the aftermath of its split with Mercedes and now the company is on its own and trying to forge ahead as a car maker as well as a leading F1 team, the one trading off the other.
Chairman Richard Lapthorne, who was drafted in from industry after the scandals of Spygate and particularly Liegate, has stepped down and Ron Dennis has taken back overall chairmanship of the Group, which means he is back in the management of the race team. He is also chairman of McLaren Automotive.
Meanwhile Martin Whitmarsh has two newly defined roles in addition to his position as team principal of the F1 team. He is CEO of the group and Deputy chairman of the automotive company. His main focus should be the race team, but he is interested in the car side and is clearly a highly trusted colleague by Dennis. But with his commitments as president of the team’s association, FOTA, there is always a risk of him spreading himself too thin or of getting distracted, something the sponsors of the F1 team will not wish to see. He will rely heavily on Jonathan Neale in helping him run the team.
The less well reported news this week is that McLaren has also opened a base for its automotive business in Bahrain. It will act as the regional hub for the sale of the MP4/12C and future McLaren models.
The Bahraini royal family’s investment vehicle Mumtalakat owns 50% of McLaren Automotive. It also owns a 42% stake in McLaren Group, which also owns the McLaren F1 team, along with Ron Dennis and Mansour Ojjeh.
The MP4/12 C is the first of a series of F1 inspired sports cars from McLaren. It is priced at around £150,000 to take on the Ferrari core market. The next car will be a more high end vehicle, more costly and with a smaller production run. After that will come a more affordable model likely to come in at below £100,000.
McLaren F1 team took an impressive 1-2 finish in the most recent Grand Prix in China and, according to Lewis Hamilton, the team is in a very good place now, after a troubled 2009 campaign,
“It feels like the team is really firing on all cylinders – everybody in this team, every single last person, is working better than ever to get us these results, and it’s really starting to pay off,” he said.
“The atmosphere within the team is fantastic – we are a strong group now, and we know what it takes to win more races. We are hungry for it. China was good – but we want more of those results because they always make us feel so good.”