until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

New McLaren investor looked at Williams and Racing Point too

by Edd Straw
4 min read

New McLaren Racing investor MSP Sports Capital had previously evaluated the possibility of investing in what is now Racing Point and the Williams Formula 1 team.

Jeff Moorad, founder of Moorad Sports Partners (MSP), revealed in a press conference addressing the £185million acquisition of a stake in McLaren Racing that could rise to 33% by the end of 2022, that the interest in investing in a F1 team has been long-standing.

Moorad has previous experience of motorsport team ownership with the Hall of Fame NASCAR team and had had dealings with Force India in 2018 during the phase before the team’s assets were used to form Racing Point under the ownership of a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll.

He also evaluated Williams earlier this year prior to its acquisition by Dorilton Capital.

“Given some of the history that our group has had – actually two of our partners have history around motorsports, I’m one of those – we’ve been interested in an investment in motorsports and frankly looked at a number of situations,” said Moorad.

“One of them was publicly reported and certainly that was Force India during its administration process.

Force India 2018

“It was a good education for us. Frankly, in retrospect, in getting to know the sport a bit, we had a much less serious interest in Williams but certainly took a look.

“I don’t think that we could have been more pleased with how this has turned out.

“Once our discussions began in earnest with [McLaren bosses] Paul Walsh and Zak Brown, we didn’t look back.

“This was the team that we were interested in. If there was a path to create a relationship and a partnership with McLaren, by far it was our first choice. So we’re quite pleased.”

Moorad explained that the investment in McLaren Racing grew out of a visit to the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Bahrain Grand Prix Race Day Sakhir, Bahrain

He was there as a guest of Mumtalakat, the sovereign wealth fund of Bahrain, which owns a majority stake in McLaren Group.

This led to Moorad and MSP partner Jahm Najafi meeting up with Brown, who he knew from his days in NASCAR, and the development of the idea of becoming involved with McLaren.

“We believe this is sufficient in order to take us to a place and win a championship” :: McLaren investor Jahm Najafi

“I was invited to the Bahrain race back in March of ’19 and attended as a guest of Mumtalakat,” said Moorad.

“And during a meeting with the Mumtalakat folks, it was Paul Scott [Mumtalakat chief investment officer] who asked if I would be interested in seeing Zak.

“And I said as a matter of fact, I’d knew Zak, I interacted with him when I owned a NASCAR team some years before.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying Day Abu Dhabi, Uae

“I said I’d enjoy getting together with Zak again. We did and that ended up kind of beginning this journey.

“Zak introduced Jahm and me to Sheikh Mohammed during his time as McLaren chairman, and I got to know Mohammed, which was a pleasure.

“We began dreaming at that point about what might be able to be put together” :: McLaren investor Jeff Moorad

“I visited with him separately on another trip to Bahrain and a couple of trips to London. And then when Paul Walsh came on board, Zak recommended that Jahm and I get on a call with Paul one day.

“So during COVID times is when we started, in the earlier part of this year – March, April, I believe. And Jahm and I spent some time with Paul, more time with Zak, by video call, and determined that there might be an arrangement or a partnership that could be evolved.

Zak Brown

“So we began dreaming at that point, and dreaming about what might be able to be put together and over the last six or seven months we were able to craft on the MSP side a deal a transaction that we thought made sense for both sides.”

Najafi expressed his confidence in the McLaren Racing business plan and the prospects for the team re-emerging as a championship-challenging force in the future.

McLaren is on target to finish in the top four of the constructors’ championship for the second consecutive season.

It could even beat Racing Point to third, although there is still the possibility it could slip to fifth behind Renault if the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix does not go well.

“We have been working with the team at McLaren Racing for a few months now and have gone through their overall business plan and the objectives of not only having a viable financial race team, but also a team that’s highly competitive and is going to be strong in a position to be able to compete for a championship,” said Najafi.

“And we believe in that business plan. We have looked at it very thoroughly and are very excited because we think that it’s real and it’s possible.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Practice Day Abu Dhabi, Uae

“We do not have any concerns about the financial capability, especially given the commitment that we’ve made to the team.

“And we believe this is sufficient in order to take us to a place and win a championship.”

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