With less than two weeks to go until the start of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship season, Porsche’s LMP1 Technical Director, Alexander Hitzinger, has left the team. News reports claim that Hitzinger has handed in his notice to focus on projects outside motorsport.
To be honest, I find the idea of Hitzinger working on projects outside of motorsport pretty ridiculous. Previously employed as Head of Advanced Technologies for Red Bull Racing (2006-2011), with a year also spent as Technical Director for Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula One Racing, Hitzinger lives and breathes motorsport.
Alex Hitzinger: Motorsport Fanatic
Fascinated by motor racing since his earliest days, Alex Hitzinger studied mechanical engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Landshut, Bavaria before gaining an MBA from the University of Warwick. His first automotive job was as a development engineer with Toyota Motorsport in 1997. There he met Carlos Sainz, who he followed to Ford in 2000, where he was made Head of Ford-Cosworth World Rally Championship Development and later overall head of the Cosworth-Ford WRC programme, which was based in Northampton.
From Head of WRC, in 2003 Hitzinger became Head of Cosworth-Ford F1 Development, leading the team that built the Cosworth CA 2.4-litre V8, which became famous for peak revs of 20,000 rpm. In 2006, he was poached by Red Bull, where he stayed until 2011 and the move to Porsche.
Alex Hitzinger: Future Directions
In 2014, Hitzinger was voted the Rising Star for Engineering in the prestigious Automotive News Europe Rising Star awards. An interview for the awards PR asked Alex what job he really wanted to have in the future. “I am very happy with what I am doing right now,” he said. “This is what I always wanted: to have a challenging leadership role in a very demanding project in top-level motorsports. But I could also imagine changing directions at some point in the future, to broaden my horizons. I am entrepreneurial in everything I do, always seeking a challenge.”
Perhaps Alex Hitzinger has changed direction to find a new challenge. But to do it within weeks of the WEC season start and just days after pre-season F1 testing finishes? That is a heavy coincidence for one of the people best placed to bring real success to a struggling F1 hybrid programme. We could see a non-compete contract clause playing out before he pops back up in an F1 paddock. Whatever happens, his departure is a blow to the Porsche LMP1 team. The team has no immediate plan for Hitzinger’s replacement.
“On behalf of Porsche I want to thank Alexander Hitzinger very much for his huge contribution to the outstanding successes of the Porsche 919 Hybrid,” said Fritz Enzinger, Porsche’s VP of LMP1. “Alexander was one of the first people to come on board at the end of 2011. I appreciate his desire for a new challenge.”