McLaren shareholder Mansour Ojjeh has died at the age of 68, the British team has announced.
Ojjeh, who worked with Ron Dennis after buying McLaren in 1984, was a key figure in the constructor’s subsequent success in Formula 1.
In a statement ahead of Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, McLaren said: “It is with deep sadness that McLaren Racing announce the death of Mansour Ojjeh, McLaren shareholder since 1984.
Major McLaren shareholder Mansour Ojjeh has passed away at the age of 68, the British team has announced
Lewis Hamilton led tribute to Ojjeh, saying his friend ‘always wore the biggest smile’
Before the Azerbaijan GP there was a minute of silence in memory of Ojjeh and Max Mosley
‘Mr Ojjeh passed away peacefully this morning in Geneva, aged 68, surrounded by his family.
“Everyone at McLaren Racing mourns his loss, along with his family, to whom the team extends its deepest condolences.”
His first foray into motorsport came in 1979 when TAG – the company his father founded – became a sponsor of Williams.
It is with deep sadness that McLaren Racing announces the passing of Mansour Ojjeh, McLaren shareholder since 1984.
Mr Ojjeh passed away peacefully this morning in Geneva, aged 68, surrounded by his family, to whom the team offers its deepest condolences. pic.twitter.com/yAmp4apuYl
— McLaren (@MclarenF1) June 6, 2021
Ojjeh (right) worked closely with Hamilton at McLaren and the two men remained close friends
It was after their success that Dennis, then the McLaren boss, persuaded Ojjeh to invest in his team.
Ojjeh’s place on the boards of McLaren Racing and McLaren Group had already been taken by his son, Sultan, and he had stepped back from his duties following a double lung transplant in 2013.
His career at McLaren saw 10 drivers’ championship titles – with Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton as winners – as well as nine constructors’ trophies.
Mercedes superstar Hamilton paid tribute to Ojjeh before racing in Azerbaijan today, writing: “I carry a heavy heart in the race after the loss of a good friend, Mansour Ojjeh. He had the biggest heart and always wore the biggest smile.
Former McLaren driver Hamilton wrote his moving post ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix
“I am so grateful to have known such a man. This man loved unconditionally. Rest in peace brother, always love you.’
Lando Norris, a current McLaren racer, said he would race in Baku for Ojjeh, adding: “A legend within F1, but above all a good friend to me and many.
“I’m going to miss your jokes and our laughter. Condolences to all family and friends. RIP Mansour.’
McLaren CEO Zak Brown has also written an emotional tribute to Ojjeh, labeling the influential figure ‘a titan of our sport’.
“Mansour Ojjeh’s passing has devastated everyone at McLaren Racing,” said Brown.
Mansour has been at the heart and soul of this team for nearly 40 years and was intrinsic to its success. He was a true racer in every way.
Ojjeh worked with Ron Dennis (L) after buying McLaren and was a pivotal figure for them
‘Ultra-competitive, determined, passionate and above all perhaps its defining characteristic: sporty. Regardless of the intensity of the battle, Mansour always put sport first.
Mansour was a titan of our sport, but humble, humble and disarming to everyone he met. His easy demeanor, sharp wit and warm humor touched all who were lucky enough to know him.
“His love for this team was felt by all and those of us privileged to work for McLaren will remember Mansour as an impressive yet humble, human father figure who showed us on the most individual, personal level how to overcome adversity. and be resilient.
He will remain in death what he was in life: a constant inspiration to all of us at McLaren and beyond. Mansour’s legacy is safe.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown hailed Ojjeh as a ‘titan of sport’ as he paid an emotional tribute
“It’s woven into this team and perpetual. We race on as he would like, our determination stronger than ever, with his memory and legacy forever in our hearts and minds.
“All at McLaren Racing express their deepest condolences to his entire family.”
FIA president Jean Todt wrote a post of his own to pay Ojjeh his respect.
He wrote: ‘Deeply saddened by the passing of my friend Mansour Ojjeh, one of the legends of F1. He achieved huge successes with Williams Racing & McLaren F1.
“He was unique and a true gentleman. He will be truly missed and will always be remembered. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beloved family.”
Ojjeh’s illustrious career at McLaren saw the constructor achieve 10 drivers’ championship titles
Fernando Alonso, the two-time world champion now at Alpine, said: “So sad for this. One of the best people I’ve ever met in this sport and a man with a big heart. Will really be missed.’
A minute of silence was held before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix starts for both Ojjeh and former FIA chief Max Mosley, who passed away earlier this month.
Ahead of the race, former McLaren driver Martin Brundle and Sky Sports commentator expressed his sadness with the news.
“The nicest, most genuine and genuine person I have ever met in Formula 1,” added Brundle. ‘A quality man at every level. Condolences to his wonderful family and his many, many friends, of whom I am proud to have been one of them.”
Several other key figures in F1 have expressed grief after Ojjehh .’s peaceful passing
Williams’ team principal Simon Roberts believes Ojjeh’s tragic passing will be “felt across the paddock”.
“We are all deeply saddened to learn of Mansour Ojjeh’s passing,” Roberts said. Mansour was not only a successful businessman, but also a passionate racer, who had an incredible impact on F1.
“It was a privilege to work with him during my time at McLaren and I fondly remember not only his competitiveness and drive to succeed, but also his warm personality and the support he gave me.
“His loss will be felt throughout the paddock, and in motorsport more generally, and our condolences go out to his family and friends.”