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Szafnauer to replace Roberts as Force India COO 15 Oct 2009

Otmar Szafnauer (USA) Vice President Honda Racing Development. Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday 8 July 2007. Simon Roberts (GBR) Force India F1 Chief Operating Officer. Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday 27 March 2009. Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Force India F1 VJM02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 4 October 2009

Force India's chairman and team principal Dr Vijay Mallya confirmed on Wednesday that Otmar Szafnauer is to join the team as its new chief operating officer. Szafnauer is to replace Simon Roberts, who was in place for a one year secondment from McLaren Applied Technologies as part of the technical partnership between the two teams.

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

“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.”

Szafnauer has held a host of senior motorsport management positions over the years, and was director of strategy and business planning for Honda’s Formula One team from 2006 to 2008 and operations director at British American Racing for three years from 1998.

The 45 year-old will now take over Robert’s direct responsibilities, including overseeing factory and trackside operations. In addition he will liaise with McLaren Applied Technologies and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines to strengthen the existing relationship.

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

Roberts, meanwhile, will return to McLaren Applied Technologies to take up a senior management role and will continue his involvement with Force India from the other side of the partnership.

“I am sad to leave Force India, a team that has welcomed me and is now achieving real success,” he said. “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.”

Roberts will remain in his current position until the season draws to a close in Abu Dhabi on November 2. Both he and his replacement Szafnauer will attend this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix and the Yas Marina event to ensure a smooth transition period.