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Moving on – Jost Capito’s McLaren F1 exit officially confirmed
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Jost Capito
Posted By: Editor   |  07 Feb 2017   |  2:38 pm GMT  |  74 comments

Jost Capito has officially left his role as CEO of the McLaren Formula 1 team, it was announced today.

Capito, who was previously the boss of Volkswagen’s motorsport programme, had only been in his position at the British squad for a few months.

The 58-year-old German stayed on at VW until the arrangements for his replacement were in place and his first official race as a McLaren employee was at the 2016 Italian Grand Prix.

Jost Capito

Capito was hired by former McLaren boss Ron Dennis to work alongside the team’s racing director Eric Boullier and chief operating officer Jonathan Neale, but his position came under threat when Dennis was forced out of the Woking-based squad by his fellow shareholders last November.

Shortly after he was appointed, McLaren’s new boss Zak Brown called on the team’s senior management to work together to improve the team’s standing in F1, but Capito’s position was uncertain from the point of Dennis’ dismissal.

A McLaren statement confirming Capito’s exit read: “Jost Capito joined McLaren after four successful years at VW Motorsport, with a strong commitment to bringing success back to McLaren.

Fernando Alonso

“He wanted to build again a winning team and fully focus on making the McLaren Formula 1 car competitive, with the aim of winning world championships in coming years. Regrettably, we have not been able to find common ground with Jost with regard to what is and will be needed to make the team successful again.

“As a result, we have agreed that he will leave McLaren Racing and will now consider other opportunities. We wish him success in his future endeavours.”

Capito’s exit is another sign that McLaren is moving on from the Dennis era, which stretched back to 1981 when the Briton’s Marlboro Project Four Racing operation was merged with the squad founded by Bruce McLaren.

Since that year, every McLaren F1 car has had the MP4 tag used before the chassis number, a tradition that will not continue on into 2017. Instead, McLaren revealed last week that its new challenger would be called the MCL32.

McLaren 2006

There have also been signals that the team will return, in some form or another, to the orange livery it ran during its early years in F1 and has occasionally used during testing – although it has not done so since 2006. This was a move that Dennis was set against during the final years of his reign at McLaren.

Speaking in 2015, he said: “All of these people were saying, why don’t we make it orange – because that was the old colour of McLaren? Well, I say, ‘you just said it – it was the old colour of McLaren. Why the hell do we want to go backwards?’

“So what do you do? Do you create an aesthetically pleasing design? But for what purpose?”

The MCL32, which will be raced by Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne in 2017 will be officially unveiled on 24 February, three days before the start of winter testing.

In a separate development Dave Redding is leaving his post as team manager and will take up the role of sporting director at Williams under Paddy Lowe, as Williams continues its restructuring of senior roles after the departure of Pat Symonds. Steve Nielsen has held the sporting director role and will offer Redding a phased handover during 2017.

Claire Williams said, “From the start, our Sporting Manager, Steve Nielsen has always been clear about his desire to do less travelling following the end of the 2017 season and we fully understood and respected his request given he has been in travelling roles for over 30 years. Steve has done a fantastic job since joining the team in 2014, from restructuring the race team to the brilliant work in driving the turnaround of our pitstop performance. We can confirm that Dave Redding will join Williams as Team Manager later this year to work alongside Steve to ensure a seamless handover ahead of taking full responsibility for the race team in 2018.”

What do you make of the news that Capito will leave McLaren? Would you like to see McLaren return to its orange livery? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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1

Ron Dennis may have controlled the team for longer than Bruce McLaren was even alive, but it’s still Bruce’s name the team carries, and it’s out of respect for Bruce that I’d love to see a return to his chosen colour.

2

I personally think that the colour of the McLaren FI cars is very smart my only comment would be if a little more red could be add just to break up the main colours a little more.

3

Contd……… And I suppose the new owners will get rid of the Kiwi logos that Ron had cleverly intergrated into the paint scheme on the car and in the pit garages! I’m going off them more and more!
PK.

4

Yes it would be great to see the McLaren orange again, especially near the front of the grid! I think I’ll be seeing the McLaren team in a different light now that Ron’s gone, Up to now I’ve been an avid fan/supporter of McLaren and Ron through thick and thin, mainly due to my being a New Zealander, and also due to Ron being with Bruce almost from the beginning. I remember seeing Ron when he came to NZ for the Tasman Series with Bruce. Maybe these new boys, (and I understand they are foreiners) should just change the name altogether if they’re so determined to divorce themselves from McLaren as we know it!
PK.

5

This is going to be a wild prediction, but I think McLaren will try and bring Newey back… They need a CTO of the group to work alongside Zak Brown and it fits the bill perfectly for him.

He likes to work on road cars – tick, McLaren Automotive
He likes to work on technology projects – tick, Applied Technologies.
He grew frustrated with Ron – tick, he is outta here!

Also, why are McLaren taking so long to announce their partnership with BP/Castrol? Could it be title sponsorship? A new Castrol livery? It would make sense to announce this at their launch…

6

I don’t understand this changing of livery. When I saw the Singapore race last season the Mclaren had the best looking livery. Honestly hope they don’t change it. But I guess as long as it’s fast…

7

Orange accent colours rather than an all orange car – that would be my guess..

8

Orange accent and red Honda branding? Ew

9
Clarks4WheelDrift

A new orange livery, brilliant, got to have something for the Oz GP that’ll distract from the latest Honda dog.

Arrows was orange and black, and slow… so why not.

10

I find the removal of anything ‘Ron’ incredibly disrespectful. In terms of heritage, there was not a whole lot of success in f1 in the Mclaren Orange they seem to be hellbent on going back to. And the the MP4 badge has been on the vast majority of their cars so you would think there was more heritage in that.

Really not a fan on Ron and his management style and there’s no doubting that on track results and sponsorships have been few and far between lately. BUT he has almost single handedly transformed Mclaren into the powerhouse house it is today both on and off the track. I doubt anyone else including his fellow shareholders who have ousted him would have had the vision and determination it took to achieve this feat. Change is definitely needed and it would have been great if he recognised that himself. But the way they are removing any evidence of Ron is unwarranted, unnecessary and a tad disrespectful and a quite childish and vindictive.

11

This is what I hate about corporations. Dennis gets the boot and the new guy; regardless of whether it’s a good move or not, does everything to get rid of every last bit of Dennis’ influence. It’s the age old case of ” cutting of your nose to spite your face”. Getting rid of Capito is clearly a decision based on the single fact that he was hired by Dennis, and nothing else.
I worry that McLaren is now in the chaos that Ferrari are making for themselves. Both teams simply can’t make decisions.
I think if I was an employee of McLaren I would be letter bombing my CV to Williams and try and get in on the Paddy Lowe team. The development of Williams is going to be exciting to watch with its extra backing from Stroll and the teams new staff.

I hope for Mclarens sake I’m wrong.

12
Clarks4WheelDrift

That is, if Mercedes allows their Williams customer engine and software to be anything close to what is running in the works team 😉

Is it Engine minus customer performance plus Bottas for a year minus Paddy’s factor equals a good midfield puppy dog as previously..? Or do they dare break the mould and allow Williams extra boost to take points from Ferrari!

13

Seems like JC was pretty much Sh@fted. However it seemed to me like the race team at McLaren had stagnated and had lost its way. A reshuffle might just be what is needed. With Team Willy on the rebuild and Team Enstone looking to be on the up this could be the start of new era.

I would also love to see RD in some capacity around the paddock.

14

@ J A B…Maybe one day we”ll get to know what the real story was. in the meantime though, we are all left with nothing concrete to base our opinions on which leads to speculation. Corporate politics can be seriously volatile and changes often occur for all the wrong reasons, which in hindsight, should’ve been avoided. I have first hand knowledge of a situation where a corporate president was summarily despatched on bad advice and personal dislikes. The new appointee, from outside this specialist field, then proceeded to reach out globally to all the international CEO’s /SVP’s for knowledge and support. When that was complete they were all fired and new executives that would then see the newly incumbent president as ‘fit for purpose’, appointed. This move cost the corporation many mega millions in terminations and business interruptions. The new president was summarily dismissed with 6 months! The whole point being that before any huge changes make sure you have all the key people on side and tied in to a common goal that is quantifiably justified.

15

UK electric car registration record. 4.2% market share in January. Weren’t we just recently talking about how awesome electric is at 1% share in 1/5 the time it took hybrid? With spikes like this, electric will be in double digit share by 2018 if products and supply is able to keep up with customer demand.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/06/new-uk-car-sales-electric-vehicle-drives-12-year-sales-high

How does this impact Formula 1 and hybrid PUs the market is less and less interested in? As some of you know, I couldn’t be less interested in the PU that is possible mainly because of the braking forces found in F1 that can’t be replicated in real life.

16
Clarks4WheelDrift

I dunno, the wifes been known to drive off without the handbrake fully disengaged. If only there was a recovery system on it then…

Agree with you though. Plus you’d enjoy James May’s electric test in the final Grand Tour episode. The pressure of monitoring distance left on remaining battery charge plus lawn more sized emergency petrol tank, coupled with wondering where the next charging station is, and will it validate ok, and how much charge will it give if you hang about for a full hour, just as the car limits the speed to 56mph on a 70mph motorway as the battery hits 15 percent. 😉

17

The negativity here is understandable to some degree, it’s been a frustrating period for fans of the team, and also the sport itself because a wounded McLaren isn’t beneficial overall. But I am surprised at how despondent everyone is about the upheaval, and that it can only end in disaster. None of us are to know the inner politics of the team, and what goes on behind the scenes. All I know is, it wasn’t really working until now. McLaren have made some positive moves – like Honda, in my opinion, even if it takes a few years – and appointing some fresh blood in Zak Brown. As long as key staff are retained, like Prodromou, Boullier etc, I see enough personal to tailor a team around. I think that has been their problem, that there are too many staff not aligned to a singular philosophy. For years they would tear up car design every year and start from scratch. Already, they have switched to a philosophy approach, and it may take a while to get there with Honda too. But I would reckon it could yield the benefits longer term. Ron Dennis was and always will be a huge figure in McLaren’s history, but I think there is too much evidence that his approach was hindering too many things. McLaren lives on, but must evolve and update. There is no magic bullet, but I am eager to see what the future holds.

18

McLaren are unpicking all the links to Ron Dennis. Could there be a couple of people working their way around Woking, putting in ‘wrong’ coloured floor tiles, replacing straight lines with wobbly ones, moving the museum cars into odd angles, ordering staff to grow beards, etc.

19

@ James…Any word from the mafia about what ron dennis is up to? It seems as though he just disappeared without a trace. I would hope that he’s in attendance when the racing starts. People love to diss on him but he is an F1 legend and he shouldn’t be ostracised for what is a political reshuffle of his former team.

20

Ron has only been gawn for 5 minutes. Martin Whitmarsh disappeared for 2 years after Ron gave him the boot.

21

While it would appear as if the new management is sweeping away much of the Ron Dennis era, I guess we should not forget that Ron Dennis led this once great Team into this downward spiral and something new is needed to ensure better competitiveness and an environment in which sponsors can enter (remember Ron’s “rate card”!).

However one “remnant” of the Ron Dennis era which cannot be swept away right now is Honda!! You can’t fault Ron’s logic in going with Honda (exclusive “works” deal with a manufacturer), but let’s hope and pray they come good otherwise McL will either have to revert to a “customer” engine deal which may give them occasional race victories but never a Title. Otherwise if McL decide to find another exclusive deal with a manufacturer – another 5 years of pain ie ahead? I do believe McL enter a crucial time in their history – it could go either way. But let’s give the new management a chance as clearly Ron was not the man to usher in a much needed new era for McLaren.

22

Just a small point. Honda was signed to Mclaren by Martin Whitnash, not Dennis.
He just ousted Whitnash and took over the team.

23

Thanks for the correction – perhaps I was thinking too much of a beaming Ron describing the then to be launched Honda engine as a “piece of jewelery”! Here’s hoping Honda manage to produce something good this year.

24

I’m not 100% sure, but I believe it was Martin Witmarsh that did the Honda deal, not Ron.
James, could you confirm?

25

I’m not sure about the nostalgia for orange, but I would like a white and red McLaren. 🙂

26

I was a little surprised when it was announced that Capito was joining the Team. I thought that maybe Eric Boullier was then on the way out. I never trusted him after the Enstone problems when he lied to the world’s press/media about paying their drivers. Capito didn’t really have current F1 experience, so a little strange appointment.

We all talk about musical chairs with drivers, but it seems sometimes it is more interesting in the movement of key people behind the scenes than the drivers.

Interesting to see that Stefano Domenicali has turned up as the CEO of Lamborghini, and in a statement, he said they will look – maybe – at an engine for F1.
Capito was VW and so was and is Domenicali.One wonders if Domenicali is totally finished with F1, or will he be back in one form or another, and what or where will Capito turn up. He has a good track record, so will be soon tapped up somewhere in motorsports.

27

Worth bearing in mind that a certain Jean Todt had zero experience when he was hired by Ferrari. He organised the team completely.
If I was Ferrari I’d be chasing Bob Fearnley. But maybe Capito would be a good addition too

28

You are right, and that is an interesting idea of Bob Fearnly turning up at Ferrari. Given what he has to work within his current position – lack of money and doggy owners, both of them. He seems to be getting result above what his budget should allow him to get. But the downside is that he talked to the EU about unfair payments, and pointed the finger at Ferrari, That could be the killer, but they have new senior management so could overlook it….He would shake up the team as that little Frenchman did

29

It’s also been announced today Dave Redding is leaving for Williams.

Morale has to be a bit low – time to bolt Fernando.

30

I thought the original orange livery was from the Gulf Oil sponsorship, not really from McLaren itself.

31

Everyone seemed so positive about Jost. It felt as if it was the start of a new era. I would like to know the cause of this lack of agreement. One wonders if it was a new broom, sweeping away all remnants regardless of use, or perhaps loyalty on his behalf after the way Ron was treated. Have you any publishable suggestions as to why, James?

I have been a fan of McL F1, and obviously Dennis, since the start of MP4. I’m pleased they’ve changed the name. My loyalty has survived the downturn in the team’s fortunes but this is a new team, one I don’t recognise. I’m moving on.

32

Geez, who would have thought that McLaren would take a leaf out of Ferrari’s bed and become a political hotbed!?

I bet Fernando wishes he played a bit harder for that Mercedes seat.

33

Can’t see McLaren making the strides needed to keep Alonso 2017. They’re at least 3 years from being in a position to mount a title challenge I reckon. Question is will Alonso retire or move on?

34

James said this would happen after Ron’s exit. No disrespect to Jost, I’m sure he was great at his job and probably had a few good ideas for McLaren, but I find it hard to feel concerned when non-technical staff leave their teams. Now, if the news was “Peter Prodromou edges closer to sensational Red Bull return”, then I’d have a couple of sleepless nights.

35

McLaren board must have had same amazing dream FIAT board did… the wonderful things a full house cleaning did for a certain team in Maranello. That MCL should mirror the Scuderia’s astounding success. It just turned them around immediately, and suddenly they were winning all the races! Sadly, it’s just a dream… and reality is that they are arguably in a worse position now than before the house cleaning. And another heritage team continues siphoning off it’s heritage.

36

Paint the car any colour you like but unless it’s quick it won’t make any difference.
As for getting rid of Capito – seems a bit odd. He can hardly have been particularly loyal to Dennis as he’d barely started when they eased Ron aside and if he was previously head of VW Motorsport then he must know a thing or two. Who are they hoping to replace him with who will be any better? Is this just intended to give the impression that things are changing or will it actually make a difference ? Who knows?

37

But what did Capito actually do? Boullier runs the F1 team, Prodromou designs the car, Neale runs the business side and that leaves no space for Capito. Certainly they can all report to him, but that leaves him as little more than a talking head to report to Mclaren’s board, the other three a quite capable of doing that themselves, or hopefully letting the results do the talking.

38

To be honest I don’t know what he did – but he certainly knows about racing and race teams and I would have thought he was a useful sort of guy to have around. It seems McLaren feel differently and have let him go. It doesn’t really bother me as I’ve never been particularly fond of them, I’ve always preferred Williams 🙂

39

@ C63…From my perspective there were a few reports that there was confusion between the three of them. Depending on the line of authority, no doubt encapsulated in their contracts, friction seemed to be on right from the start with bouillier not accepting that he reported to capito which was inferred. Somewhere the lines became blurred and bouillier survived. By all accounts he is very good at his job. Will he survive though?

40

You would expect Capito learned enough about Mclaren to be an asset elsewhere on the grid so not really too bad from his point of view.
Was he brought in by Ron in a typical make the other guys uncomfortable ploy?
In fact considering the massive story of ron leaving there has been little written
about him and nobody was too worried as they went mad for the rosberg exit.

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