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VW director Jost Capito to become CEO of McLaren Racing

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Volkswagen director of motorsport Jost Capito has been named as the new CEO of McLaren Racing following the promotion of Jonathan Neale.

Capito has headed up Volkswagen’s motorsport interests since 2012, leading the German marque to three straight FIA World Rally Championship titles.

However, the 57-year-old will now return to Formula 1 with McLaren following a management reshuffle at Woking.

Neale has been promoted from CEO to the Chief Operating Officer of McLaren Racing, freeing up the position for Capito, who worked for Sauber between 1996 and 2001.

Eric Boullier remains the team’s racing director, and will work in tandem with Capito, while Ron Dennis still oversees all of McLaren’s interests as group CEO and executive chairman.

As per the team’s statement: “The timing of these moves will be actioned in 2016 in agreement with Jost’s current employer, and a further announcement will follow in due course.”

Dennis revealed that he approached Capito regarding a role at McLaren last summer, and is pleased to have secured his services for the 2016 season.

“I first approached Jost last summer,” Capito said. “He is an extremely impressive, competitive and ambitious individual, who comes to us with a very wide range of automotive and motorsport experience.

“From a motorsport perspective he has experience in not only the World Rally Championship but also sportscars, touring cars, motorcycle racing and Formula 1, about which he is hugely knowledgeable and infectiously passionate.

“I am therefore delighted to welcome Jost to McLaren, and I am certain that he will work extremely well with Eric and all at McLaren Racing, building on the very good work they have already done to take the McLaren-Honda programme forward towards grand prix victories and world championship successes.”

Neale also welcomed Capito to the team, and is relishing the opportunity to take on an increased role within the McLaren setup.

“After 15 years in senior roles within McLaren Racing, most recently as COO and acting CEO, I am excited to be moving up to take on a wider remit, working directly with Ron to assist his leadership of McLaren Technology Group,” Neale said.

“I have enjoyed my time at McLaren Racing, and will of course remain closely involved in supporting Jost’s and Eric’s efforts to optimise the future success of the McLaren-Honda programme.

“But I am equally conscious of my new areas of responsibility and influence within McLaren Technology Group, and  I am particularly keen to bring to bear my wider industry expertise and experience to drive forward our strategy to grow each of our Group businesses.”

Volkswagen issued its own statement shortly after McLaren thanking Capito for his work over the past four years.

“We would like to thank Jost Capito for his exceptionally dedicated and successful work for Volkswagen in motorsport,” board member Frank Welsch said.

“The three World Rally Championship titles with the Polo R WRC represent the greatest sporting achievements in the history of the Volkswagen brand and underscore the technical competence of our company.

“With his transparent and far-sighted leadership, Jost Capito has been instrumental in this success.”

WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

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The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.

With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.

Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.

With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.

“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!

“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”

Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.

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