PEOPLE: MARTIN WHITAKER

Name: Martin Whitaker
Nationality: Great Britain

From a fruit farming family in the west of England, Whitaker grew up playing rugby but gradually developed an interest in motor racing which led to him getting a job as a junior reporter on the British weekly racing magazine Motoring News. He worked his way up through the magazine to become its touring car reporter.

Whitaker did not, however, much enjoy the life as a journalist and in March 1985 he applied to be the press officer of the Royal Automobile Club Motor Sports Association - Britain's national sporting authority. He stayed with the RAC MSA for three and a half years and impressed FIA President Jean-Marie Balestre - who was looking for an English-speaking PR man for FISA (the FIA's sporting arm) - who lured him to a new job in Paris in 1988. In 1989 he ran the media operations at FISA but in 1990, wanting to go back to London, he took up the offer of a job with Bernie Ecclestone's FOCA Television.

At the end of that year Martin was approached by Ron Dennis of McLaren and asked if he would like to become head of McLaren's press and PR activities.

He remained with McLaren for just two years and then, after a brief spell when he looked like joining Sauber's new F1 team, he returned to the FIA under its new President Max Mosley. Martin remained with the governing body of the sport until the end of 1994 - including the very stressful period following the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger - before deciding that he was tired of leaping from job to job and wanted to build a career within one company.

He joined Ford Europe to work as head of motor sport communication under Peter Gillitzer and in April 1996 he was appointed as Gillitzer's replacement in charge of Ford's European motorsport programs. He remained in charge of Ford's F1, rallying and touring car activities until October 1999 when his bid to become the head of Jaguar Racing failed. He left Ford in 2003.

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