There has been a major change in leadership at McLaren.
Jonathan Neale, the acting Chief Executive Officer at McLaren Racing, has been promoted to the role of Chief Operating Officer of the entire McLaren Group. Replacing him will be Jost Capito, Volkswagen’s Director of Motorsport, who will be supported by McLaren’s current Racing Director, Eric Boullier.
Neale (pictured above left, with Boullier) has held the acting CEO role since the start of 2014, when he was installed following the ousting of then-CEO Martin Whitmarsh by McLaren Group CEO and chairman Ron Dennis.
“Jonathan has done an excellent job as acting CEO of McLaren Racing – and that experience, together with the expertise he has attained in non-motorsport industry positions previously, makes him ideally suited to such an important new role at McLaren Technology Group,” Dennis said in a media release issued by the McLaren team.
The incoming Capito (pictured right) has prior experience in Formula 1. The 57-year-old German’s motorsport career started when he raced motorcycles in his teens, winning a number of endurance and off-road championships. He later switched to trucks, winning that category of the 1985 Paris-Dakar rally.
At the same time, he was also studying engineering in Munich and after his graduation he was hired by BMW to join its elite motorsport team under the leadership of Paul Rosche. He started out as a development engineer working on its highly successful M3 touring car campaign.
In 1990 he moved to Porsche’s motorsport department and eventually moved to the top of its ranks before he was headhunted by the Sauber Petronas Engineering, which was designing a Formula 1 engine for the Malaysian oil company. That project fell through, but nonetheless, Capito joined the Formula 1 team and was made its head of operations in 1999.
He subsequently joined Ford’s motorsport strategy and global performance vehicle businesses – leading both operations – and stayed there until 2012 when he moved to Volkswagen Motorsport, spearheading its recent dominance of the FIA World Rally Championship.
“[Jost] is an extremely impressive, competitive and ambitious individual, who comes to us with a very wide range of automotive and motorsport experience,” Dennis added.
“From a motorsport perspective he has experience in not only the World Rally Championship but also sports cars, touring cars, motorcycle racing and Formula 1, about which he is hugely knowledgeable and infectiously passionate. I am certain that he will work extremely well with Eric and all at McLaren Racing, building on the very good work they have already done to take the McLaren-Honda programme forward towards grand prix victories and world championship successes.”
Images via Euro Car News and XPB Images