Early Season F1 Disappointment McLaren Makes Major Changes
McLaren briefly revived its fortunes across 2020-21 but slipped to fifth place under new regulations last year.
In 2023, McLaren is one of only two teams, along with AlphaTauri, yet to score a point.
In a statement, McLaren outlined that a new technical structure has been in the pipeline for a number of months.
The McLaren Formula 1 team has announced changes to its technical leadership team, including the immediate departure of Technical Director James Key.
Key joined McLaren in 2019 after previous spells at Force India and its predecessors Sauber and Toro Rosso.
McLaren briefly revived its fortunes across 2020-21 but slipped to fifth place under new regulations last year and has begun 2023 slowly. It is one of only two teams, along with AlphaTauri, yet to score a point.
McLaren conceded at the launch of its MCL60 in February that it had already changed development direction with its car and the first of those upgrades is due to arrive at next month’s fourth event in Azerbaijan. But ahead of the introduction of that update package McLaren has reshuffled its technical team and Key has left the organization with immediate effect.
McLaren will not directly replace Key but instead will have a three-person structure that reports to team principal Andrea Stella, who took on the role in December following Andreas Seidl’s move to Sauber.
Peter Prodromou will hold the role of Technical Director, Aerodynamics, while Neil Houldey will be promoted to the newly-created position of Technical Director, Engineering and Design.
For the third position of Technical Firector, Car Concept and Performance, McLaren has recruited David Sanchez from Ferrari. Sanchez resigned from his role as Ferrari’s head of vehicle performance earlier this month and will return to the team he worked for from 2007 through 2012. Sanchez will not take up his new role until January 1, 2024, due to the period of gardening leave outlined in his previous Ferrari deal.
In a statement, McLaren outlined that the new technical structure has been in the pipeline for a number of months and has been undertaken in conjunction with an ongoing recruitment process of new technical personnel.
The team has also been working on new infrastructure for several years with its state-of-the-art wind tunnel, currently being calibrated at its Woking factory, expected to be operational in June. McLaren has repeatedly outlined 2025 as the year in which it hopes to contend for the title.
“It has been clear to me for some time that our technical development has not moved at a quick enough pace to match our ambition of returning to the front of the grid,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. “I’m pleased that, having completed a full review with Andrea, we are now able to implement the restructure required to set the wheels in motion to turn this around. These strategic changes ensure the long-term success of the team and are necessary to see McLaren get back to winning ways.
“We have everything coming into place now with our people and infrastructure and alongside an exciting driver line-up, I’m determined to see McLaren get back to where we should be.”
Added Stella: “Since taking on the team principal role I have been given the mandate to take a strategic approach to ensure the team is set on a long-term foundation, for us to build on over the years.
“This new structure provides clarity and effectiveness within the team’s technical department and puts us in a strong position to maximize performance, including optimizing the new infrastructure upgrades we have coming in 2023.”