Antony Sheriff, McLaren Automotive’s managing director, says the phrase “It’s all just common sense” rather a lot.
He drops it in frequently when talking in his rapid-fire way about the specification of a new McLaren, his company’s attitude to marginal warranty claims, or the way manufacturing will be organised in his soon-to-expand Woking factory.
For Sheriff, you sense logic has always provided opportunities. He believes the most challenging situations can be boiled down until the sensible approach appears — and that’s the one you adopt.
This philosophy has become a part of McLaren Automotive, not least because four-fifths of its 500-strong staff has been hired since 2003, when Sheriff rather unexpectedly took the job. You can see it in the way people get things done: quickly. You can also see it in the practical qualities of the new MP4-12C.
Six years ago, aged 40, Sheriff abandoned a promising career in the Fiat Auto hierarchy — notably the enormously influential position of director of product development for Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia and all the commercial vehicles — because here was a chance to do everything, to be in at the ground floor in a new firm.