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.
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.
“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.
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.