McLaren marketing boss Ekrem Sami departs F1 team as part of senior management shake up

Ekrem Sami is expected to step down in March

McLaren’s long-standing marketing boss Ekrem Sami has announced that he will step down before the start of the new season as the Formula One team embarks on a new era in his leadership.

Sami will depart his role as chief executive of McLaren marketing at the end of March, drawing to an end a 35-year career with the Woking-based team.

"I don't mind admitting that it feels a bit strange to be announcing that I'm moving on from McLaren," said Sami, "the company to which I've devoted almost all my professional life. But now is the right time.

He stated that he will “continue to work on the projects with which I'm already engaged” and revealed that he expects to formalise his departure in late March.

He added: "As for my own plans, I'm looking forward to broadening my professional outlook into the wider sports and entertainment sector, after being so immersed in the weird and wonderful world of Formula One.”

Sami's departure comes during a period of restructure for the Formula One team which has sustained a prolonged period of underachievement spanning four years without a race win.

Last year McLaren’s chairman and chief executive Ron Dennis, who is synonymous with the team’s success during the 80s and 90s, was forced out following a boardroom disagreement with Mansour Ojjeh, who, like Dennis, owns 25% of McLaren, and Mumtalakat, the Bahraini sovereign wealth fund, which owns the remaining 50%. This was followed by the departure of the team manager, Dave Redding, who joined rival team Williams.

American businessman Zak Brown was confirmed as McLaren’s new executive director in November and represents the new face of the team. Brown is a a familiar face in the F1 paddock due to the high-profile sponsorship deals done by his company JMI.

McLaren said their search for a new chief executive is ongoing and said Brown's arrival was part of a restructuring programme that would “align the group's commercial and strategic operations relating to achieving success in Formula One.”

The lack of success on track in recent years has dented the iconic team's marketing appeal, leaving Brown to admit that it is unlikely to have a title sponsor for the 2017 season.

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