F1's head of communications makes surprise departure

Sian Bradley's picture
by Sian Bradley
Norman Howell

Formula One's Norman Howell has unexpectedly stepped down from his role as director of communications. 

No formal announcement was made of the move; the motor racing giant has not distributed a press release about his departure or revealed who will be replacing him.

The news came to light only because Howell updated his own LinkedIn page, with the message that he has “now left Formula 1 after covering the digital and communication roles through the transition from Bernie Ecclestone’s FOM to the present ownership of F1 by Liberty Media." He added that he "will take a short break and some thinking time before plunging headlong once more into the very exciting and ever-changing world of content communications.”

Howell was promoted to the post in February 2017, after two years at the helm of F1’s digital team. 

Howell landed the role shortly after Liberty Media acquired F1 in a $4.6 billion deal.

Unlike his departure, Howell’s appointment was made with much applause. F1’s commercial boss Sean Bratches, whom Howell reported to, said at the time that he was “pleased to name Norman as Formula One’s new director of global communications.”

He added: “As we embark on an exciting new chapter in Formula One’s history, Norman brings a wealth of knowledge and perspective to the newly enhanced leadership team.”

Over his nearly 3 decade long career, Howell has also worked as communications director for auto racing’s regulator, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) as well as a similar role for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Howell began his communications career in the 1990s, when he was appointed head of communications at McLaren. Later, in 2003, he was recruited by Bernie Ecclestone. He subsequently went on to become editor in chief of the Red Bulletin, the sports magazine owned by energy drinks giant Red Bull.

 It now seems Howell is looking for a change in lane.