Before starting work at McLaren, new team chief executive Jost Capito has named Fernando Alonso as the “best driver in formula one”.
Currently heading the motor racing programme for Volkswagen, the German said deciding to take up Ron Dennis’ offer had nothing to do with the diesel scandal.
“We began to negotiate in the summer,” Capito told the Spanish newspaper Marca, “before the diesel problems at Volkswagen began. I want to make that very clear.”
Asked if he simply needed a change, he explained: “No, I didn’t need it. It is something more sentimental.
“As a child I was a big fan of Bruce McLaren, how he founded the team and how Ron Dennis then ran the business. For me it has always been a model,” said Capito.
However, he is joining a world of F1 that is going through an intense period of naval-gazing, as the sport collectively looks at how to recapture some of the magic of the past.
“First I have to get in there and see how it is,” said Capito. “Formula one has many issues in different areas to solve, but I think the main thing in my case is to try to build a solid, strong, competitive team.
“The regulations do not have to be a problem, since it is the same for everyone. So it’s about getting the most out of it.”
Finally, when asked about working with Alonso, Capito said: “I do not know him personally, but I admire him a lot.
“Especially having followed what he did last season. He did not give up and kept encouraging the team, even though the results – for a driver like him – were frustrating.
“I must say that, for me, he is the best driver in formula one,” he added.