Formula One: Sporting director Michael to leave McLaren

LONDON (REUTERS) - McLaren sporting director Sam Michael is leaving the Formula One team at the end of the current season to return home to Australia after 21 years in the sport.

A team spokesman said on Wednesday that the 43-year-old had tendered his resignation in March. McLaren denied media reports in Italy that chief operating officer Jonathan Neale and technical director Tim Goss were also leaving.

Michael joined McLaren from Williams, where he was technical director, before the start of the 2012 season and was responsible for the development and management of the team's trackside operations.

The spokesman said the highly-regarded Australian would be on the pit wall as usual at next week's U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, and also be at the final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

Former champions McLaren have had a difficult season and have not won a grand prix for nearly two years, with Jenson Button's 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix win their last success. In 2013 they failed to finish on the podium for the first time since 1980.