Marketing boss Ekrem Sami has become the latest high-profile name to leave McLaren Honda Formula One Team in the wake of their restructuring under the management of Zak Brown, though he insists the decision is entirely his own.
Sami will remain as CEO of McLaren Marketing until late March, ending a career that has spanned most of Ron Dennis’ reign. He has played a crucial part in all of the team’s commercial and sponsorship agreements during that period of time, but had already resigned his directorship in December, making it apparent that now is the right time to leave.
“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,” he said. “But now is the right time.
“However, I’ll continue to work on the projects with which I’m already engaged, and I expect to formalise my departure some time in late March.
“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.”
McLaren’s new executive director Zak Brown has praised Sami. Both men have worked closely together before on deals between the team and Brown’s marketing agency.
“Whatever Ekrem chooses to do with the rest of his professional life, I’ll always regard him as a McLaren man through and through,” said Brown.
“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.”