Mansour Ojjeh: a view from the top
Our long-standing shareholder and board member Mansour Ojjeh opens up about success, innovation, passionate customers and the future of the supercar.
Perhaps the single constant in the ‘modern’ McLaren story has been Mansour Ojjeh, the visionary businessman who has been our organisation’s loyal figurehead for more than 32 years. Although not often in the limelight, Ojjeh is one of McLaren Group’s main shareholders, and has helped develop our brand into the powerful entity it is today – renowned for a pioneering attitude to design and technology.
Ojjeh brought a strategic experience to bear, helping to position McLaren as not merely a successful Formula 1 team but also as a visionary technology company. He was instrumental in our first road car – the legendary McLaren F1 – and later in the formation of McLaren Automotive.
We ask Mansour how he feels about the company today – and where it might go next.
Q: Back in the days of the F1 car 25 years ago, did you have any notion of the company’s road car potential?
A: ‘I always thought we should continue [building road cars] but now I think what it has become is quite unbelievable. We have fantastic people, we have great vision, we have an unbelievable brand. I want every part of McLaren to be successful – we want the road cars to be successful, we want the F1 car to be successful, we want Applied Technologies to be successful. That’s what it’s all about – success and winning.’
Q: Do you see McLaren Applied Technologies as key to the expansion of the wider brand?
A: ‘Yes, absolutely. A lot of things that we are learning from Formula 1 can be applied to a lot of different things and different sectors, like transportation or medicine. We use fast prototyping, we use sensors, we use simulation, we are highly experienced in lightweight technology. We started the electronics company a long time ago – now it has become a world leader. We do all the ECUs for IndyCar, Formula 1 and Nascar.’
Q: What links all McLaren’s different activities?
A: ‘The brand. Everything we do has to contribute to the greatness of the brand. The McLaren brand is unique. It stands for excellence, it stands for achievement, it stands for success and for the people who have won championships with us. It stands for the cars, of course, but also for the way we do things. It stands for history as well – McLaren is an iconic brand.’
Q: Do you find that our customers tend to reflect our brand?
A: ‘Yes. It’s fun meeting our customers and seeing how passionate they are. I went to the 25th anniversary [of the McLaren F1 in 2017] and saw all the people who had brought their McLarens – they had flown them in from America, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, from everywhere, just to be there. These are serious fans of McLaren – we have got some incredible people who just love our brand.’
Q: What about our company makes you most proud?
A: ‘I’m most proud of the people who work here, and our culture. Our people are great in every way, from the top to the bottom.’
Q: Where do you think McLaren goes in the future?
A: ‘I hope that we will keep on being in Formula 1. I think that the technology side will get much bigger and I think the road car side will continue to make advances with different technologies. They are coming up: hybrid, electric and the rest.’
Q: Do you think that high-performance cars will always have a future?
A: ‘Yes I do. When you think about it, why are people buying cars with performance they can’t use on the road? It’s about passion – they like to have it, even if they need to take it to the track. Supercars are a tiny fraction of all the cars sold in a year – it’s a small market but it exists because people love cars. They love McLarens.’