Sam Michael, Williams, 2011

Sam Michael joins McLaren as sporting director

2011 F1 season

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Sam Michael, Williams, 2011
Sam Michael, Williams, 2011

Sam Michael will join McLaren as their sporting director after the next race.

Michael resigned from Williams as technical director in May this year but continued to work for the team and will leave them after the Singapore Grand Prix.

His new role at McLaren will see him take responsibility for developing and managing their race operations.

Michael said: “I already know and respect many of the team?s senior technical management figures, and becoming a member of that excellent working unit was one of the prime attractions of this new position.

“Equally, for some time I?ve closely observed and greatly admired both Lewis [Hamilton] and Jenson [Button] as grade-one drivers, and therefore regard it as an enormous privilege to be able to work with both of them.”

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said Michael’s appointlemt is “an important senior addition to our race team.”

“He?ll bring a very valuable blend of experience and expertise to our pitwall, and will also enrich the technical management we provide for our drivers.”

Michael began his F1 career with Lotus in 1993, then joined Jordan two years later.

He moved to Williams in 2001 and became their technical director in 2004.

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Keith Collantine
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76 comments on “Sam Michael joins McLaren as sporting director”

  1. This can only be a good move for him and for McLaren. I’m sure he knows what he’s doing…

    1. Are you mental? He’s the most incompetent ‘technical’ person in F1 right now. Since he was TD at Williams their performance has gone steadily downhill. Most of which can be attributed to his (lack of) technical leadership. The technical design of the FW33 was pretty much all down to him and look how that is performing. How he managed to wangle that position at McLaren is beyond me. Bad move McLaren. At least he won’t be designing their car.

      1. The technical design of the FW33 was pretty much all down to him and look how that is performing

        What do you know?

        It’s been excepted by everyone from Frank down that was exactly the problem – he’s just had too much to do. It’s telling that in Williams technical shakeup 3 people have arrived while one has left.

        You certainly don’t last in F1 for 18 years by being incompetent.

        1. What do I know? Ha If only you knew.

          Ask anyone who works at Williams!

          It is a mystery how he’s survived this long. Maybey cos he can suck up to Frank so well. In his job as Technical Director he was utterly incompetent. I know. Trust me.

          1. Oh and more than one have left. Quite a few. Jon Tomlinson, the equally useless Cheif of aerodynamics also left. Thank god.

          2. Well then, tell US how you know this. Burden of proof is on you.

          3. Ok G ride… Then why are Mclaren grabbing him up with open arms and a healthy pay packet? If everyone at Williams knows this, surely Mclaren might as well?

            Complete rubbish. As it says in the article, Sam Michael is a valuable addition to any race team.

      2. So then if he is such a failure as head of car technical car development, it is a good thing that at McLaren he won’t be working on the cars themselves, but rather on running them over the race weekend.

        This year has shown that McLaren could use some fresh thinking (and common sense!) with odd strategies and not-too-fast pit stops, plus not always helping their drivers with the right info (hence Button helping himself, HAM failing …).

        At Williams Sam Michael had been responsible for that and the technical development for a time, maybe too much for him, but he has experience. And anyway, McLaren don’t have single team leaders like that, they seem to work with teams of people, none the single point of failure, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

        Very good for Michael and McLaren, I think.

        1. Mike, Perhaps you can enlighten me as to some good that Sam Michael has done in his F1 career then? By good I’m talking about helping create a successful, winning car?
          He certainly didn’t do that at Williams and not through lack of resources. He cannot lead, he cannot direct. He did not communicate at all well with the rest of his technical team at Williams. There is a clear distinction between things being ‘too much for him’ and being incompetent. I think people should realise this.

          At the end of the day his results speak for themselves.

          1. To be honest it sounds like you bear a personal grudge towards him. You’re still yet to prove how it is you know more about the situation than any of us.

          2. I am surprised that more of the Williams staff aren’t commiting suicide. For many years now the Williams cars have been junk and ofcourse we all know that any good team is the sum of its parts. The smartest thing he has done in his career is to get off the FW Titanic and bring his talents to one of the best teams in racing….

          3. Sam Michael built a championship winning car in 2003 – shame that Montoya and Ralf were driving it though.

            Sure, he’s not got the best track record on the grid, but he’s done okay with the financial difficulties at Williams and could do well at Mclaren.

      3. I agree, McLaren is doomed :)

        1. TED BELL you are confused. Sam Michael was the one at the wheel of that Titanic and was steering it into the icebregs.

          The future is now looking good for Williams. Much, much better engine and much, much better technical staff for next year.

          1. He was to blame for the engine as well ?

          2. So you offer no facts to support your posts? Don’t think i’ll be listening to you again!

          3. Sorry G Ride , I thought that Williams was hoping for a “miracle” to cure their unfortunate performance issues. Is it true that all team members work at the factory during the day with their fingers crossed??

      4. Technical directors don’t design the car anyway…

        …and if he was, as you state elsewhere, entirely responsible for designing the FW33, then more fool the Williams team for only employing 1 designer!!

      5. Absolutely correct.

  2. Hope this works out for all involved, Michael has landed himself a fantastic position there.

    1. And mclaren has landed the one of the best talents around.

      1. We shall see ;)

        Kind of hard to see his potential, given the current Williams situation.

  3. Glad for Michael that he’s not been completely left in the cold by Williams’ reshuffling.

    I really do hope Williams manage to get their act together though. Seeing them performing like they are these days in almost painful to watch.

    1. I don’t think he’s rubbish, or else he’d be out. Maybe he’s had some bad luck, and this is the occasion to prove himself.

      1. I think Sam Michael ended up getting far to much on his plate at Williams with both key staff leaving, for lack of budget and Head pulling out of the technical things more and more.
        I think he might be really good for McLaren, as they have shown lately, that they make too many mistakes in the planning of their weekends.

  4. Lotus 1993
    Williams post 2001

    NOT the best credentials. Hope it’s not a jinx and that he does bring positive inputs to Mc Laren

  5. I do hope the McLaren corporate machine can stop him spouting his rubbish about how the fans need to pay for the teams to survive…

    1. Sound_Of_Madness
      13th September 2011, 13:45

      Maybe you’re mistaking him with Adam Parr?

      1. D’Oh!! Yes, I believe I am…

        …oh that’s good then!!

  6. Well, at least he’s not actually in charge of anything that nobody else can fix when he inevitably screws it up …

    1. I’m sure he’s sat at home wishing that he had your extensive knowledge and experience…

      1. Isn’t everyone?

    2. Given what he’s in charge of, how would we notice him screwing it up? I don’t see Williams making the sheer number of avoidable mistakes made by McLaren on race weekends.

      1. Exactly that Ilanin.

      2. I don’t see Williams making the sheer number of avoidable mistakes made by McLaren on race weekends.

        Have you just not been paying attention for the past five years? Sam Michael is the man who has been peddling the “aggressive design philosophy” at Williams. So far, it has largely failed to materialise. And on the rare occasion that it has – this year’s FW33 being a prime example – the team has languished. At this race, they’re on track for ninth in the World Constructors’ Championship, their worst result since the days of fielding just one entry in 1978.

        1. That’s an engineering issue, a technical issue. That’s not what Michael is doing at McLaren, his job is to run the team on race weekends. Have you even read the article?

  7. So who is he replacing or are they creating a new position for him?

    1. Apparently, he’s taking on the role left by… Dave Ryan.

      It’s not a technical director, though, so this may play to Sam’s strengths more.

      1. But I would not be supprised if he grows towards a bigger role some time in the future. Who knows, maybe replace Withmarsh in a couple of years!

  8. I’d be very surprised if this turns out to be a “good” move, both for McLaren and for Williams.
    Sadly Williams are falling apart though, so I can see why.
    :(

    1. Sam Michael was a key instigator of Williams ‘falling apart’ as you say. He was/is useless in a technical role. Williams can only get stronger after this.

      1. Sam Michael seems to be well respected in the paddock and it does seem to be the belief it was only because he hadn’t the resources behind him that he didn’t succeed at Williams.

        But you have to cut through all the talk put out and agree with G Ride here as whatever the reason Williams was a disaster with him.

        1. I don’t know who is right or wrong in this but I do know that only FW or PH have total control of what happens at Williams so they must bear responsibility . If SM was as bad as Gride says they should have sacked him long ago, just as they sacked a string of Champion drivers.

        2. The key to any changes that will restore Williams to its former days of glory will be when rule changes will end the current generation of cars. Then everyone will have a clean sheet of paper and hopefully Williams will figure it out and get all the parts to the puzzle. Just as simple as that.

          1. Further thoughts about Sam Michael…If he is as bad as G Ride seems to know, then the proof in the pudding will be realized if and when McLaren starts their downhill slide and Williams starts scoring some points.

      2. I usually get a moderator warning for comments like this, but it’s the person I am.

        I like reading your comments G Ride, but there doesn’t seem to be any support here. Are you an ex-Williams staff let go by Sam Michael. Did you invent the Walrus-nose Williams add-on and it Sam Michael changed a key part of the original design and that’s why it didn’t work.

        You read like you are bitter – which usually means you have close connection, emotional ties and conflict. There’s a great story here. If you make a cuppa and then type it, I’ll promise to make a cuppa then read it.

      3. The fact that he isn’t in a technical role seems to have completely passed you by, doesn’t it?

  9. Ted Kravitz on Twitter:

    Sam Michael’s challenge will be to end the too-clever, over-complicated decisions that have cost McLaren wins this year (Monaco, Monza).

    So their solution to ending a run of too-clever and over-complicated decisions … is to employ the guy who invented the too-clever, over-complicated decision? That’s a bit like saying “So, Libya needs someone to run the place now that Muammar Qaddafi is gone – I wonder what Saddam Hussein is doing these days?”

    1. And what do you perceive as overcomplicated? A couple of CV joints isn’t exactly stretching the boundaries of engineering science.

    2. So perhaps he knows how to work on (not) fixing things, given McLaren’s budget?

    3. He is dead (Saddam, that is). Maybe you should have rather said lets give the job to Mugabe or Assad, or Bin Ali (ousted from Tunesia) instead.

      1. I know he’s dead. I deliberately chose him because he’s dead. It makes things funnier.

        1. HaHaHaHOHOHa

    4. I wrote in length about this “too clever” approach of Mclaren during the Monaco GP weekend and I believe that it is one of their biggest strategical weaknesses.

      Monaco GP was the best example this season of Mclaren sticking to a strategy which their in-depth analysis and supercomputer simulations showed to be the fastest over a race distance despite obvious and extremely costly drawbacks.

      Conceding track position with Button at Monaco was quite frankly a rediculous decision.

      1. Don’t forget the Octopus!

      2. I wrote in length about this “too clever” approach of Mclaren during the Monaco GP weekend and I believe that it is one of their biggest strategical weaknesses.

        There’s a simple sollution to McLaren’s strategic problems: driver faster than everyone else.

        Now, why aren’t McLaren employing me?

  10. Chemistry can count for a lot in a high-pressure working environment. For the drivers, though McLaren have amazingly good driver relations considering how close they are, they can improve. Hamilton is frustrated with the communication with the wall among other things. He has no rapport with the team during the race and it affects his racing. They have had some costly communication issues as far as pit timing, etc. Button needs to eradicate these occaisional lost weekends where he can’t get the car set up and languishes; he could use with a new technical interlocutor perhaps.

    I can’t understand those slating Michaels. Williams had a terrible run lately and he has a role in that. But from the time he showed up in 2001, they had some excellent cars. They went off the rails when they lost BMW and lost HP. If McLaren suddenly lost Mercedes and Vodaphone, they wouldn’t be challenging for race wins now.

    1. Would it help you understand if I said I am part of the Williams technical team and have been since before Sam Michael has been Technical Director? Since he took over that role from Patrick, Williams have been on a downward spiral. That’s not coincidence.

      1. No one man causes a team to head on a downward spiral. He may say play a part in the effect but it’s very degrading to say he has had to no accomplishments in F1. What about the Frentzen/Michael combination of 1999 where they won 2 grand prix (France and Monza).

        If he did not have the capabilities to perform in F1 then he would not be involved, there are many intelligent individuals waiting in the wings to snap a shot at the sport, including engineers. Quite frankly G Ride, your arguments sound childish with no foundation.

      2. While I personally love the idea of a disgruntled Williams employee signing on semi-anonymously to an Internet forum and ranting about former colleagues, I imagine there are clauses about this sort of thing in the contracts of most employees. Not very professional after all, is it?

        I call shenanigans. But nice try.

      3. Then I’d ask why you haven’t been fired, you sound at best entirely incompetent.

        Course, that’s assuming you are at least honest.

      4. Did you ever think that you might be part of the problem rather than the solution. Surely Patrick knew the direction he was going. Were you by any chance overlooked for the Tech Director position?

      5. Interesting.

        I think both the lack of money and Head pulling out had more to do with it then what Michael did or did not manage to get done, though.

      6. I seriously doubt you are a member of Williams F1. What you’re saying is libellous (since you’ve written it) and will severely affect sponsor relations. As an employer, i’d be well within my rights to fire you for comments like that.

        But it’s more likely you’re talking out of where the sun don’t shine :)

      7. lol, because my opinion holds as much weight as yours G Ride, I say it was you that caused Willams’ downturn.

        Sounds like sour grapes to me, assuming there’s ANY truth in your post.

        Good luck to both Michael and McLaren.

        On a side note, do I remember Lewis losing his chief race engineer (probably the wrong term, sorry) to Button at the start of the season, or was it last year? Just wondering if that’s a contributing factor to Lewis’ poor relationship with the pit wall of late?

        1. I actually was wondering the same, Do we have a happy Mc Laren employee member of F1 Fanatics forum?

      8. Clearly Wiliams have staffing issues on the techinal side, and I’m not talking about SM…

        1. I actually think the reason for Williams’ decline in performance is because some of their technical team would rather spend time on the Internet than working on the car. :D

      9. That’s okay. I’m really Frank Williams and your P45 is on it’s way… :-)

        (It’s about as believable)

  11. Would it help you understand if I said I am part of the Williams technical team and have been since before Sam Michael has been Technical Director?

    I feel you there buddy, I’m actually Barack Obama. Its a tough gig. Here’s a pic of my dog. He always cheers me up.

  12. Great news for both Mclaren & Sam,they both will be benefited from this.

  13. I can’t believe some people are actually making a huge point about how this guy isn’t any good. McLaren have taken him on, isn’t that proof enough? Unless you guys know better of course. Williams were left in the doldrums by BMW and that split has been the most noticeable turning point for the team in terms of lack of success.

  14. Public shareholders in Williams might demand this G Ride be identified. Sam at least displayed grace in accepting responsibility and during his work out period. It is the graceless team members that degrade team performance.

  15. I’m more than certain that if Sam Michael was so hopeless he’d have been gone long ago, F1 is not in the business of employing failures at any level.

    G-ride, if you really did work for Williams you’d know the real reason for their steady decline, Senna’s death and the rumours surrounding it still hurt Williams in the sponsorship stakes, money has been harder to come by for them, engine supply has been an issue since Renault left and lack of technical staff have all contributed.

    Williams are were they are due to lack of investment and of a long term Engine partner.

  16. Williams have always been known for robust personnel management. If Michael wasn’t any good, he would have been sacked ages ago.

    I’m not sure who you are ‘G Ride’ but I think it desperately unlikely you are at Williams.

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