Martin Whitmarsh at the 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix
29 April 1958
Whitmarsh was the CEO of McLaren Racing, a subsidiary company of the McLaren Group and Chief Operating Officer of that group, as well as being the team principal of McLaren Mercedes. Whitmarsh was also the chairman of the Formula One Teams Association and therefore had the responsibility of representing the F1 teams' interests, until the organisation was disbanded in 2014. In 2014, Whitmarsh was removed from his job of CEO of the McLaren Group, CEO of McLaren Racing and also removed from team principal of McLaren Mercedes. Ron Dennis replaced him in the two CEO posts and Eric Boullier replaced him as team principal of the F1 team.
Whitmarsh graduated from Portsmouth Polytechnic (now the University of Portsmouth) with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1980, and started work at British Aerospace (now BAE Systems) as a structural analysis engineer at its Hamble-le-Rice facility. He was promoted to an advanced composite structures research and development role and transferred to BAe's Weybridge facility. In 1988 he was promoted to the rank of Manufacturing Director and was put in charge of Hawk and Harrier airframe production. He left to join McLaren as Head of Operations in 1989.
In 1997, Whitmarsh was promoted to Managing Director, where he was responsible for McLaren Racing, the company's Formula One operation. This allowed Team Principal Ron Dennis to concentrate on other aspects of the McLaren Group. In April 2004, he was again promoted, this time to the position of COO of McLaren Group.
On 1 March 2009 Ron Dennis stepped down as head of McLaren Racing to take a role in McLaren Automotive as he planned to expand the company's operation in car manufacturing. In 2009, Whitmarsh became team principal as a result.
Having started 2009 with an uncompetitive car, McLaren improved as the year progressed, scoring more points than any other team in the second half of the season, to beat Ferrari to third in Constructors' championship by a single point.
McLaren did not win a world championship with Whitmarsh as Team Principal, although Lewis Hamilton was in mathematical contention for the drivers' title until the final race of the 2010 season, being 24 points behind Fernando Alonso going into the last race of the season.
Following an uncompetitive 2013 season, Whitmarsh was ousted from his position as CEO of McLaren Racing and McLaren Group and replaced by his predecessor Ron Dennis in January 2014. He formally parted ways with McLaren in August 2014 after 24 years with the organisation.
After leaving F1, Whitmarsh became chief executive of Olympic yachtsman Ben Ainslie's America's Cup challenge. He left that role in November 2017, moving into an advisory position.
He is also on the global advisory board of Formula E, the FIA's all-electric single-seater series.
In December 2017, Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, announced that Whitmarsh had been invited to act as a consultant to cut costs and help define "regulations for fair and sustainable competition".
During the BBC coverage of free practice two of the Belgian Grand Prix in 2011, Whitmarsh explained that he was colourblind making it very hard for him to read the weather radar during races. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Portsmouth in 2009. Whitmarsh has two children.