McLaren F1 marketing chief Ekrem Sami to leave team

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McLaren has confirmed that marketing chief Ekrem Sami is to leave the team after over three decades at Woking.

Sami joined McLaren in 1981 following the team’s merger with Project Four Racing, a Formula 2 and Formula 3 operation run by Ron Dennis.

Dennis announced at the end of last year that he would be resigning as McLaren CEO and chairman following a boardroom struggle, marking the start of a period of change for the British marque.

McLaren Racing CEO Jost Capito left the team after just five months in the role, while American businessman Zak Brown has become executive director of McLaren.

Sami is the latest figure from the Dennis era to depart, announcing on Thursday that he would not be continuing in his role as CEO of McLaren Marketing.

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

“However, I’ll continue to work on the projects with which I’m already engaged, and I expect to formalize my departure some time in late March.

‘Over the past 35 years I’ve worked with some truly brilliant people, and I want to say thank you to them all. Our successes were a team effort in the most fundamental way.

“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 1.”

Brown added: “Whatever Ekrem chooses to do with the rest of his professional life, I’ll always regard him as a McLaren man through and through.

“His commitment and work ethic remain absolutely second to none, and I feel privileged to have worked with him for so long – not only recently as his McLaren colleague but also, over many years, as his close associate, during my time at Just Marketing International.

“Ekrem and I achieved a lot together, and I don’t mind admitting that I learned a hell of a lot from him. His commitment to the McLaren cause has never wavered, and you’d have to look very hard to find a man who works harder than he does.

“Bearing all that in mind, I’m confident that he’ll excel in whatever areas he next chooses to ply his trade. He and I will definitely stay in touch, but I’ll miss being his colleague. We all will. But we wish him well.”