McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh has admitted that the Woking team will definitely miss the effort and input of long-serving head of race operations Steve Hallam, who has announced that he is leaving the team at the end of the 2008 Formula One campaign.

A veteran of 18 seasons at McLaren, and plenty more before that with Lotus, Hallam has landed an undisclosed role in the very different world of NASCAR, following the rarely trodden route last traversed by former Jaguar F1 boss Gunther Steiner, who took Red Bull money to transfer from the grand prix scene to the drinks brand's inaugural Cup Series campaign in the USA.

"Steve had been with us since 1990 and remains a hugely respected member of our team," Whitmarsh said, "I understand his desire to spread his wings, and I wish him well, but he will nonetheless be hugely missed."

There was a new face in the garage at the Italian Grand Prix, however, as McLaren continued to strengthen its technical team ahead of 2009.

"Monza was the first race for our new head of vehicle design, Andrew Bailey," Whitmarsh confirmed, "He has considerable engineering and technical expertise, grounded in marine technology, and I'm sure he will help strengthen the design department during a critical period of development within the sport."