Ahead of today's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, McLaren Racing announced the death of Mansour Ojjeh, long-time shareholder of McLaren, who has been involved in the team's operations since 1984.
In 1975, his Syrian-born father Akram Ojjeh founded TAG Group, an acronym of Techniques d’Avant Garde, as a holding company for his many investments. The Ojjeh family and TAG Group first became involved in motor racing in 1978. That same year, Saudia Airlines sponsored the Williams team, and several other Saudi-related corporate names soon appeared on the car, including TAG.
In 1979, TAG Group became a main Williams sponsor, with Mansour as the company’s familiar representative in the paddock, along with his younger brother Aziz.
Although he enjoyed being part of the success as a Williams sponsor, Mansour’s vision and ambitions for TAG Group helped build what McLaren is today. With an investment to fund the development of a new turbo engine, TAG Turbo Engines was created. The TAG engine first appeared in the back of a McLaren in a grand prix in August 1983, with Niki Lauda urging Porsche and the team to fast track its development.
By the end of the 1984 season, Ojjeh had scaled down TAG’s involvement as a sponsor of Williams and agreed to invest in McLaren, and he became a major shareholder.
Ojjeh passed away peacefully this morning in Geneva, aged 68, surrounded by his family.
"Mansour has been etched into the heart and soul of this team for nearly 40 years and was intrinsic to its success. 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.
"Mansour was a titan of our sport, yet modest, unassuming and disarming to all he encountered. His easy manner, sharp wit and warm humour touched all those who were fortunate to know him. His love of this team was palpable for all to see and those of us privileged to work for McLaren will remember Mansour as an impressive yet humble, human, father-figure who showed us at the most individual, personal level how to fight 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 secure. It is woven into this team and perpetual. We race on as he would wish, our resolve stronger than ever, with his memory and legacy forever in our hearts and minds. All at McLaren Racing express their deepest sympathies to his entire family," concluded Brown.
I extend my most heartfelt sympathies to the family of Mansour Ojjeh as we grieve his loss. Mansour was, and will remain, a hugely inspirational figure to me and was a large part of the reason I joined McLaren. pic.twitter.com/vQqOFCKnQJ— Zak Brown (@ZBrownCEO) June 6, 2021
Figures from across the world of F1 offered their own tributes to Ojjeh, including F1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali. “I was shocked to hear that our very good friend Mansour has passed away," he said.
"He was someone with incredible talent, passion and energy and was a giant of our sport. I will miss him greatly and so will the whole F1 community. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Kathy and their beautiful family who he was utterly dedicated to and who were his real passion in life.”