Force India appointed Otmar Szafnauer as its new Chief Operating Officer after Simon Roberts, having completed his one year secondment, returned to McLaren.

Force India chairman Vijay Mallya appointed Szafnauer at the outfit’s headquarters here in presence of all staff members and McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

Otmar has a wealth of Formula One experience having worked as director of strategy and business planning for Honda Racing F1 Team from 2006-8 and operations director at British American Racing from 1998-2001.

Simon will return to McLaren Applied Technologies to take up a senior management role but will continue his involvement with Force India from the other side of the partnership.

“We are sad to see Simon go as he has been a crucial linchpin in the transition to the McLaren and Mercedes drivetrain and his dedication and professional stewardship has led the team to achieving its first-ever podium in F1,” Mallya later said.

“However, he was always on secondment and we knew we would have to let him return to the McLaren fold. We are confident that Otmar, with his wealth of F1 experience, will be a worthy successor and will continue the strong upward trend we have seen in the last half of the season,” he added.

Simon said he would continue to keep an eye on Force India’s performance and chip in from the other side of the fence.

“I am sad to leave Force India, a team that has welcomed me and is now achieving real success. I am delighted I will still remain involved in the team from the other side of the fence and look forward to providing all the support both McLaren, Mercedes and Force India require,” he added.

Szafnauer said Simons had set a benchmark and he would try his level best to maintain that.

“Force India is a professional outfit that is now achieving competitive and highly promising results. Simon has set a high standard to continue and I am eagerly anticipating getting stuck in to this latest challenge,” he said.

Simon will remain in his current position until November 2. Both Simon and Otmar will attend the Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to ensure a smooth transition period.

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