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Former McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh breaks his silence on Formula 1

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Former McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh breaks his silence on Formula 1
Jun 22, 2016, 4:18 AM

Former McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh appeared at the FIA Sport Conference in Turin and spoke about F1 and future of motorsport.

Former McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh appeared at the FIA Sport Conference in Turin and spoke about F1 and future of motorsport.

The former McLaren chief has stayed away from discussion on the sport since leaving the team two years ago.

Whitmarsh, who is currently the CEO of the Ben Ainslie Racing America’s Cup team, described how he has been struck by sailing’s willingness to look at innovation in other sports as a way to improve its integrity, an approach he felt motorsport sometimes lacked.

FIA

He said: “I was humbled by how excited people appeared to be willing to learn about Formula 1 and learn from Formula 1. Sometimes we don’t always have that humility in motor racing to learn from other environments.

“I was also struck by a lot of conversations where people talked about the integrity of the sport and again, sometimes maybe the clamour for money or other things in motor racing, we lose that a little bit.

“It’s a fantastic sport – I was lucky enough to spend 25 years in motor racing and loved, not very minute, but nearly every minute of that 25 years.

“It’s such a vibrant environment but I think sometimes we could learn from other sectors, we could learn from other environments and have a bit more humility and think about the integrity of racing.”

Whitmarsh also believes the recent improvements in efficiency in modern Formula 1 are often overlooked among the focus on the speed of the cars.

He said: “People talk about speed, and speed is very important in life and in all sorts of different industrial environments. Speed is important, but you don’t get speed without efficiency.

Daniel Ricciardo

“I think that it is often over looked just how efficient Formula 1 cars are – how efficient they are at producing power, how efficient they are in creating grip and it’s that drive for efficiency that is so relevant to all sorts of walks of life and challenges outside of motor racing.”

The FIA is using the panel discussions at the conference, which is attended by representatives of 113 national motorsport federations from around the world, championship organisers, race promoters, teams, drivers, circuit owners, manufacturers, and suppliers, to debate how motorsport can learn from its past to best shape its future.

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Whitmarsh moved into the America’s Cup after he left McLaren at the end of the 2013 and he described how the sport was adopting F1-style analytical and simulation systems to try to reduce inefficiencies.

He said: “I’m not sailor, so moving to sailing was an interesting challenge indeed, but sailing is a much smaller sector than motor racing and I think we were used to developing products on the water, which is an expensive way to develop products and not necessarily a quick or efficient way.

“Motor racing has evolved and developed analytical and simulation techniques that are iterating things quicker, making things better and I think that is certainly something that I think we are now learning in the America’s Cup and I think that can make a difference.”

FIA

* Meanwhile the new CEO of McLaren Racing, Jost Capito, has confirmed that he will take up his post in the Autumm. He was announced earlier this year, but VW has held him to his contract as head of motorsport, to steer the WRC and other programmes before he leaves. The precise start date is not clear, but speaking in Turin at the FIA Sport Conference he said it would be the end of August/ beginning of September when he takes up his post.

What do you make of Whitmarsh’s comments? Should more be made of the efficient nature of modern F1? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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