Ben Ainslie team sign ex-McLaren F1 boss Martin Whitmarsh

Martin Whitmarsh celebrates with Lewis Hamilton
Whitmarsh (left) was team principal at McLaren Mercedes between 2009 and 2013

Sir Ben Ainslie has recruited former McLaren Formula 1 chief Martin Whitmarsh to help him win sailing's America's Cup for Britain.

Whitmarsh, 56, has been appointed chief executive of Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) before the challenger series opener in Cagliari on 4 June.

"Martin came highly recommended by many figures in the motorsport industry," said Ainslie, BAR's team principal.

Ainslie, 38, won the America's Cup with Oracle Team USA in 2013.

Ainslie's team was already working with Adrian Newey, the chief technical officer of F1 team Red Bull.

"When we first started to put together the plan for BAR, McLaren were one of the aspirations," said Ainslie, a four-time Olympic sailing champion.

Whitmarsh left his role as McLaren team principal in July 2014.

"After 25 years at McLaren, it's great to be able to turn my energies and experience to such an exciting sporting and technical challenge," he said.

"I hope that my experience will help BAR in its aspiration for a sustainable business model, along with the clear goal of winning the America's Cup and bringing it back to British waters."

The America's Cup first took place off the Isle of Wight in England in 1851 but a British team has never won it.

Each winner decides the format and venue of the next event, which takes place every three to five years.

It has traditionally begun with a challenger series - the Louis Vuitton Cup - to decide which team gets to take on the champions, but qualifying races have been shortened and reorganised for the next competition in 2017.

The opening round, which starts in June, will feature a number of teams, to be whittled down to four.

These four will then go on to another series of races to decide which one gets to challenge Oracle Team USA in the 35th America's Cup.

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