Then came a lateral move to Sauber, specifically Sauber Petronas Engineering, which moved Proton beyond its initial technical alliance with Mitsubishi. Capito led the development of a new 2.0-liter engine, and although this did not make his production skills noticeable, he was named COO of the Sauber F1 team in 1998. He was the man who registered a young Finn named Kimi Räikkönen.
But then Ford came up with an offer Capito couldnt refuse. “Martin Leach approached me, they wanted ST and RS to launch correctly, to bring them back,” he recalls.
The problem was that the first Focus RS had already been developed for the most part by the time Capito joined in 2001, and was over budget and overdue. Sales were not good enough to guarantee the cost of developing a version of the Mk2, so Capito found a way to cut Fords cautious decision making. “We made the five-cylinder Focus ST and it was a success,” he says. “But he knew that if he said he wanted to make an RS it would be no. So I told him I wanted to make an ST Plus, to build on what was already a success. Then when we developed the car, we said, ST Plus is not a big name, we should call it RS.
Its role expanded to become global. The Ford F150 Raptor and Mustang Shelby GT500 were developed under his supervision and became increasingly involved in motoring, especially the WRC. “In 2006 and 2007 we won the manufacturers championship, but that was with an outside team,” he says, recalling the success of M-Sport. “The next step was obviously to do it with a team, and thats when Volkswagen approached me.”
Capito led the WRC team during a period of domination, with four consecutive drivers and builders championships. “It was like a dream,” he admits. “I think it was the most rewarding moment of my career, of all.”
It also led to another radical change in direction, with Capito recruited by McLaren to lead the Formula 1 team in 2016. It should have been the pinnacle of his career, but after three months he left.
“I had agreed what I was going to do with Ron [Dennis],” Capito says. “But then he left and it didnt make any sense. People thought she was very close to Ron. He wasnt, I just liked working with him and we had a good plan to get the team back to success. The other guys had a completely different opinion, and I said, I can only take responsibility if I can be in charge.