F1: Sam Michael joins McLaren as Sporting Director
By LJ Hutchins
Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
The McLaren and Williams F1 teams have both announced this morning that Sam Michael will be moving to a senior management role at Woking.
Michael, who has worked for Williams in management positions for a decade, parted company with the Grove squad earlier this year (effective at the end of the season) after management changes and a run of poor form saw his star begin to wane.
However, he was not expected by many people to be seeking gainful employment for long.
And so it has proved. The Australian, who has an 18-year F1 pedigree and also worked for Jordan and the original incarnation of Lotus, is set to become McLaren’s Sporting Director for the 2012 season.
McLaren says his new role will involve joining the senior management team in addition to taking specific responsibility for the development and management of the team’s trackside operations.
The team said in its annoucement: “His vast experience and profound understanding of race operations will enhance the team’s on-track capability, adding significantly to its already impressive technical management strength-in-depth.”
Michael added: “I’m extremely excited to be joining Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. Being a racer my whole life, I know that McLaren is one of the all-time greats of Formula 1.
“I already know and respect many of the team’s senior technical management figures, and becoming a member of that excellent working unit was one of the prime attractions of this new position.
He said that he had spent some time closely observing McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, and that he admired them greatly, considering it an enormous privilege to be able to work with both of them.
“I’ve spent 11 seasons with Williams F1, have many fond memories, and truly wish them all the best.
“In the near future, however, I will become 100 per cent focused on Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, and will be aiming to ensure that the team’s famous rocket-red victory T-shirts will be seen many times over the coming years.”
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren Team Principal, said Michael would be an important senior addition to the team: “He’ll bring a very valuable blend of experience and expertise to our pitwall, and will also enrich the technical management we provide for our drivers.
“I’m certain he’ll work extremely well with our senior technical management team, which I firmly believe will now become the strongest in all of Formula 1.”
Sir Frank Williams, founder and Team Principal of Williams F1, said of the move: “I am delighted that Sam has found a new role that will enable him to continue to apply his energy, passion and experience to Formula One.
“On behalf of everyone at Williams I wish him a successful move to his new team. I would also like to thank Sam for his help in enabling a swift and smooth transition to our new technical leadership.
“Mike Coughlan and Jason Somerville are settling in very well and the restructuring will be complete when Mark Gillan joins us as Chief Operations Engineer on 19 September.”