Saudi billionaire Mansour Ojjeh, a major force behind the McLaren team’s success in Formula One, has died aged 68, the British team announced on Sunday. Born in Paris, Ojjeh bought into McLaren in 1984 and with former partner Ron Dennis established it as one of the major forces in F1. “It is with deep sadness that McLaren Racing announces the death of Mansour Ojjeh, shareholder of McLaren since 1984,” McLaren announced ahead of Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
“Mr Ojjeh passed away peacefully this morning in Geneva, aged 68, surrounded by his family, to whom the team sends its most heartfelt condolences.”
McLaren chief executive Zak Brown said his death “had devastated everyone” at the team.
“Mansour has been etched into the heart and soul of this team for nearly 40 years and was intrinsic to its success,” Brown added.
“He was a true racer in every sense. Ultra-competitive, determined, passionate and, above all, perhaps his defining characteristic: sporting.
“No matter the intensity of the battle, Mansour always put sport first.”
With Mansour on board McLaren won seven of their eight constructors world titles since 1984 and 10 of their 12 drivers’ crowns.
Lewis Hamilton, who won the first of his seven world titles at McLaren, said before the start of Sunday’s grand prix in Baku: “I carry a heavy heart into the race after the loss of a close friend, Mansour Ojjeh.
“He had the biggest heart and always carried the biggest smile. I am so grateful to have known such a man. This man loved unconditionally. Rest in peace brother, love you always.”
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