October 22, 2014 6:09:48 pm
McLaren sporting director Sam Michael is leaving the Formula One team at the end of the current season to return home to Australia after 21 years in the sport.
A team spokesman said on Wednesday that the 43-year-old had tendered his resignation in March.
McLaren denied media reports in Italy that chief operating officer Jonathan Neale and technical director Tim Goss were also leaving.
Michael joined McLaren from Williams, where he was technical director, before the start of the 2012 season and was responsible for the development and management of the team’s trackside operations.
The spokesman said the highly-regarded Australian would be on the pit wall as usual at next week’s U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, and also be at the final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
The separation was understood to be amicable with Michael, who had long planned to return home with his wife and two teenage children, on good terms with McLaren’s overall head Ron Dennis.
Former champions McLaren have had a difficult season and have not won a grand prix for nearly two years, with Jenson Button’s 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix win their last success.
In 2013 they failed to finish on the podium for the first time since 1980.
Martin Whitmarsh was ousted as principal in January when Dennis regained control and Frenchman Eric Boullier, the former Lotus principal, was appointed racing director.
McLaren are starting a new engine partnership with Honda next year, ending a relationship with Mercedes that dates back to 1995, and have yet to confirm their driver lineup.
Double world champion Fernando Alonso looks set to join from Ferrari, with 2009 world champion Button out of contract at the end of the season. Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen is the other driver.
The team are also without a title sponsor.
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