Sam Michael

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For the Australian footballer, see Sam Michael (footballer).
Sam Michael
Born Samuel David Michael
(1971-04-29) 29 April 1971 (age 45)
Western Australia
Nationality Australian
Occupation Motor sports engineer and designer
Years active 1993–2014
Known for Formula One engineer and designer: (Lotus, Jordan, Williams, McLaren)

Samuel David "Sam" Michael (born 29 April 1971) is an Australian motor sports engineer and designer, most recently the sporting director at Formula One constructor McLaren until 2014.

Michael was born in Western Australia and grew up in Canberra.[1] After studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of New South Wales with a thesis on data acquisition systems for racing cars. During his studies, Formula Holden team owner Gregg Siddle employed Michael on a part-time basis, so that Michael could continue his studies.[2]

Michael was recruited by UK-based Lotus in 1993. After Team Lotus went bankrupt in 1994 Gary Anderson, the chief designer at Jordan Grand Prix, took Michael on to established the team's research and development department. Michael spent two years working in the Jordan factory on data acquisition, and installed a seven-post rig for simulating suspension movement and designing an active differential.[2]

In 1997, Michael joined the Jordan test team. In 1998 he was promoted to race engineer for Ralf Schumacher. When the German departed to go to Williams in 1999, Michael inherited Heinz-Harald Frentzen. The Michael/Frentzen partnership was successful, resulting in a win at the French Grand Prix at Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, and then again at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.[1]

In 2001, Sir Frank Williams brought Michael to Williams as Senior Operations Engineer. He took over the responsibility of managing the engineers at races and tests. In May 2004, Michael was promoted to Technical Director of Williams, when Patrick Head moved sideways to head the team's research and development division.[2]

Following the worst start to a season in Williams' history, Michael resigned from the team in early May 2011.[3] For the final five races he joined McLaren but did not become their sporting director until the start of 2012.[4][5]

At McLaren, Michael came under pressure following a series of failures during pitstops, during the introduction of new equipment and procedures.[6] Whitmarsh defended Michael's position,[7] and shortly afterwards the changes began to pay off.[8]

After Whitmarsh was removed from CEO position from the whole of McLaren Group in 2014 and replaced with his predecessor, Ron Dennis, Michael stated that he was moving back to Western Australia for family reasons, and would consequently exit from his position at McLaren.


  1. ^ a b "Profile". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "Sam Michael - Technical Director". WilliamsF1. Archived from the original on 21 April 2009. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  3. ^ "Sam Michael and Jon Tomlinson to leave Williams at end of 2011". F1 Fanatic. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Sam Michael to become McLaren sporting director after Williams exit". BBC Sport. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "McLaren Mercedes hires Sam Michael as Sporting Director". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "European Grand Prix 2012: it's the pits for McLaren and Lewis Hamilton after another costly error in Valencia". 24 June 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Martin Whitmarsh defends Sam Michael's job at McLaren F1 team". 4 July 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  8. ^ "Celebrating the fastest ever pit stop // James Allen on F1". 23 September 2012. Retrieved 2016-08-26.