Former McLaren F1 Team boss Martin Whitmarsh is returning to Formula 1 in a temporary advisory role, helping the FIA to put effective cost control measures in place.
Whitmarsh worked in Formula 1 for over twenty years, and in 2009 took over the McLaren team from then-head Ron Dennis. In that 2009 season he turned the uncompetitive MP4-24 into the best car of the second half of the season, and edged Scuderia Ferrari to third place in the Constructors Championship by just one point.
Between 2010 and 2012 he was the president of the Formula 1 Teams Association (FOTA), replacing Ferrari’s Luca di Montezemolo as President, and was part of FIA-FOTA discussions on budget caps. These discussions ultimately broke down though, with four teams leaving FOTA at the end of 2011 and the association disbanding in 2014 with the signing of a new Concorde Agreement.
In 2013, following four consecutive years of Red Bull Racing domination, Whitmarsh was ousted from his team boss position at McLaren by predecessor Dennis. With no F1 job to go to Whitmarsh became the chief of the Americas Cup Land Rover BAR yacht racing team, before stepping down to an advisory position there last year.
Also last year he made his first foray back into motorsport, becoming a representative on Formula E‘s advisory board, and now, with experience of teams’ attitudes towards budget caps, he’s helping the FIA to put measures in place to “define financial regulations“.
“Whitmarsh has accepted an invitation to work with the FIA on a temporary basis in order to support it in defining financial regulations for fair and sustainable competition in the FIA F1 world championship,” said Matteo Bonciani, the FIA’s F1 head of communications, confirming Whitmarsh’s placement within the sport.
Whitmarsh’s experience of being a team owner facing a budget cap puts him in a unique position for the role, and speaking in 2013 he said that for any cap to work, all teams have to be behind it.
“If we want to do it [introduce a budget cap] we have got a way of doing it, but a minority will always be opportunistic or try to frustrate it,” Whitmarsh told Autosport at the time.
“There have always been and will always be ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, [and] the problem is that the ‘haves’ never want to deal with it. It is so easy to have unforeseen consequences and changes in a finely balanced situation.
“I think it can be done, but if there is not a big enough will…“