Current Volkswagen motorsport Chief Jost Capito will start his new role as the McLaren F1 team’s CEO in time for the Belgian Grand Prix (at the end of August).
Capito was actually signed up by the Woking team to be its new chief executive in January, but he said he would only leave his role as VW’s racing chief once a successor is appointed.
German Capito, 57, is in Monaco this weekend, triggering speculation he might now be ready to start work.
Speaking at the FIA Sport Conference in the old Fiat factory in Turin, outgoing Volkswagen motorsport director Jost Capito revealed that his move to McLaren is more imminent than previously believed.
“This year,” Capito said. “It will be the end of August, beginning of September, something around that region. I’m looking forward to the switch; otherwise I wouldn’t have done it!”
For the moment, Capito’s focus remains on his current role. “The job at VW is such a big job. It’s not only WRC, it’s rallycross in the US, it’s TCR… As long as I’m there, I’m doing a proper job there.
“Motorsport is never finished, and you always have to look for the next step. Look at WRC – coming in and winning three years in a row and this year in a good [position] to win it again, with a high chance. I think that is something achieved. But we just started this year in TCR, with customer support and doing this there is always something that has to be improved, that has to get better.
“We have then the rallycross in the US. [We have to improve this championship], to improve the TCR, so there’s a lot of jobs to do. It’s not just for the success of me just coming there and sitting there. Also next year in WRC the competition gets higher with Citroen being out this year, fully focussing on next year so they have an advantage in development for next year. Same for Toyota, coming in with no testing restrictions and it’s a tough job for us to keep up with the competition for the years after.
“Everybody who is not in the full championship they have no testing restrictions so they can go to Mexico at high altitude, and they have no limited test days where we have limited test days. As Hyundai have unlimited test days – they have a certain advantage, and that means we have to work very efficiently and very hard. Because we are in this year’s championship and have to develop next year’s car with limited days to do so.”
Despite remaining firmly concentrated on his ongoing work with Volkswagen, Capito was asked to talk about the changes in Formula One since he left the role of chief operating officer of Sauber. “When you come in the paddock you still see the same faces, just older,” Capito joked. “But I don’t see that because I’m older too! I don’t see a lot of changing; of course the cars change, the technology changes, but it’s still Formula One.
“I think Formula One is always attractive for manufacturers. Manufacturers always look into it, but we have to look at the whole world situation, and it might be a situation of where Formula One is in the future. It depends on the manufacturers, on their strategies – a lot of things have to come together for a manufacturer to take the decision and the risk to get into Formula One. For a manufacturer it’s a very proud decision to go into Formula One if you’re not established there.”
Response from McLaren race director Eric Boullier
At the end of last month Boullier said: “I don’t know when exactly he will officially take up his duties.
“But in my view everything is simple. Ron Dennis has the highest position in the McLaren Technology Group. I am race director at all of the races.
“But McLaren Racing has more than 600 employees, and with 20-21 races each year then I’m away from them for about four months of the year. As a race team we have 80 people but more than 500 are at the factory and need to be managed,” Boullier added.
“Therefore responsibilities are divided between me and Jost Capito, who will also be responsible for the development strategy of McLaren Racing,” he said.