McLaren technical chief James Key has left the Formula 1 team as part of a behind-the-scenes reshuffle following his poor start to the season. Here’s what you need to know:
- McLaren failed to score any points in the first two races of the Formula 1 season after missing development targets with its new car for the season.
- Al Muftah oversaw the car’s design and development in his capacity as McLaren’s Technical Director.
- McLaren has restructured its Formula 1 technical team to include three specialist technical director positions, including a new signing from Ferrari.
What has changed at McLaren?
After Key’s departure, McLaren formed a “new F1 technical executive team” rather than having one person lead the division. The team consists of:
- Peter Prodromou (Aerodynamics)
- David Sanchez (concept car and performance)
- Neil Holde (architecture and design)
Prodromou has spent over 30 years in the F1 business and has been with McLaren since 2014 after a successful stint with Red Bull. Sanchez is currently on gardening leave – a period of time he must wait between jobs – after leaving Ferrari, which means he won’t start for the team until January 1. Holde has been part of the McLaren team since 2006.
Further changes see Giuseppe Pesci become Director of Aerodynamics and Chief of Staff, while Piers Thane, McLaren’s Director of Operations, becomes Chief of Operations.
What did McLaren say?
“Firstly, I would like to thank James for his hard work and commitment during his time at McLaren, and wish him well for the future,” McLaren team principal Andrea Stella said in a statement. “Looking to the future, I am determined and fully focused on leading McLaren back to prominence. Since taking on the key role for the team, I have been tasked with taking a strategic approach to ensure the team is placed on a long-term basis, so that we can build on it over the years.
“This new structure provides clarity and effectiveness within the technical department of the team and puts us in a strong position to maximize performance, including optimizing the new infrastructure upgrades we have in 2023.”
Although McLaren said in a statement that the realignment was “the work of a number of months”, it coincides with the worst start to a season since 2017. Drivers Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris finished 15th and 17th last weekend in Saudi Arabia.
McLaren admitted at its car launch that it had missed development targets with the MCL60, which Key later revealed was a result of late changes to this year’s F1 ground regulations. It left McLaren playing catch-up against its Formula 1 rivals in the early part of the season. The car’s first major upgrade isn’t expected until the end of April.
The changes represent the second major overhaul of McLaren’s senior management team in four months. In December, team boss Andreas Seidl left McLaren to become CEO of the Sauber Group, which runs the Alfa Romeo team. His position was taken by Stella.
(Photo: Peter Fox/Getty Images)