Simon Roberts Leaves Force India, Returns to McLaren

Force India's Chief Operating Officer Simon Roberts will leave his position within the Silverstone based team at the end of the season to re-join McLaren Mercedes. The announcement was made by Force India F1 Team on Wednesday, as they also confirmed that Romanian-born American Otmar Szafnauer will take over the job from 2009 onwards.

Roberts came to Force India at the end of 2008 as part of the team's new engine partnership with Mercedes. Although he'll return to Woking after the Abu Dhabi finale, he will continue to attend the closing 2 rounds of the season in the Force India garage alongside Szafnauer. This way, the two officials will ensure a smoother transition at the helm of the team.

I am sad to leave Force India, a team that has welcomed me and is now achieving real success. I am delighted I will still remain involved in the team from the other side of the fence and look forward to providing all the support both McLaren, Mercedes and Force India require,” said Roberts.

Although born in Romania, Szafnauer established himself in the United States (Detroit) at the early age of 7. After racing in Formula Ford in the early 90's, he used his Masters Degree in mechanical engineering (at the University of Detroit) to land his first job in Formula 1 as Operations Director at British American Racing (1998).

In 2001, he was picked by Honda to help their engineers get up to speed with their Formula One operations.

Force India is a professional outfit that is now achieving competitive and highly promising results. Simon has set a high standard to continue and I am eagerly anticipating getting stuck in to this latest challenge,” said Szafnauer.

Otmar was selected by myself in full consultation with McLaren to replace Simon, who has now completed his secondment with Force India. We are sad to see Simon go as he has been a crucial linchpin in the transition to the McLaren and Mercedes drivetrain and his dedication and professional stewardship has led the team to achieving its first-ever podium in F1,” added team owner Vijay Mallya.

However he was always on secondment and we knew we would have to let him return to the McLaren fold. We are confident that Otmar, with his wealth of F1 experience, will be a worthy successor and will continue the strong upward trend we have seen in the last half of the season,” concluded the Indian billionaire.

With Roberts in the chief operating officer position at Silverstone, Force India scored their first pole position, podium and points in their Formula One existence.
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