Formula 1 is in mourning. The coronavirus has taken one of the key characters of the Great Circus in its history. Perhaps it was not well known by the general public but behind the scenes, it made it what it is today.
This is John Hogan who died this past Sunday as F1 itself made public and endorsed by people like Zak Brown and others. Hogan was instrumental as Marlboro’s head of sponsorship eventually getting nearly 40 percent of the grid sponsored by that brand something unthinkable today. Partly because of this, he made a small firm compared to other tobacco companies to become famous throughout the world.
But this Australian was much more than that. He helped many drivers reach the top discipline of motorsport, revitalized McLaren and was even a top executive at Jaguar in 2003. In fact, his hand is still felt in Ferrari as Phillip Morris is still present in the ‘Scuderia’, although less conspicuously by global anti-tobacco laws.
The oceanic emigrated to London in the sixties and worked for the marketing and advertising of several important firms such as Coca-Cola or Nestle. In fact, there he helped a young F3 driver named James Hunt, who would later become F1 world champion. Hogan became close friends with Ron Dennis, who was then a mechanic in an F2 team, Rondel. Hogan came to Phillip Morris-Marlboro in 1973.
The brand was already in F1 with BRM, but with him, he went to McLaren and reinvigorated its transformation. They signed Emerson Fittipaldi and won the title with Hunt. The team changed forever. His ideas impressed Bernie Ecclestone, who always held him in high regard. Hogan was able to get Marlboro to invest more and more. Until they had enough money to unite Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at McLaren.
Or for Ferrari to also wear its logo since 1984. He is considered the ‘discoverer’ of Mika Hakkinen, later two-time champion, as he also helped young talents grow. He was with Marlboro until 2002. Then, he spent just one year at Jaguar, as sports director. He was officially retired but kept up to date and visiting the ‘paddock’ from time to time. His way of seeing the business changed F1.