McLaren: James Key has left the team

McLaren have ‘released’ James Key from the role of the team’s Formula 1 Executive Technical Director in the wake of a woeful start to the season for the once mightiest team in the sport, last in the F1 constructors’ standings when much more was expected this season.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown said in a team statement: “It’s important now that we ensure we have a solid foundation as the next phase of our journey. 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.

“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,” declared Brown.

McLaren Statement on James Key departure and restructure

The team has taken the decision to move away from a single Executive Technical Director role, overseeing the whole technical operation. Instead, it will be introducing an F1 Technical Executive Team comprising of three new specialised Technical Director roles, reporting directly to Team Principal Andrea Stella. James Key, Executive Technical Director has left the team as part of this restructure.

The F1 Technical Executive Team includes Peter Prodromou, who moves into the role of Technical Director, Aerodynamics. Peter will lead the whole aero function, using his experience gained in 32 years of Formula 1 and a strong track record of winning world championships.

David Sanchez returns to McLaren as Technical Director, Car Concept and Performance after a decade at Ferrari, and brings significant expertise and innovation to the team. David will join the team on 1 January 2024.

Neil Houldey is promoted into the newly created role of Technical Director, Engineering and Design. Having first joined the team in 2006, Neil has grown within the organisation, becoming a highly respected technical leader.

Giuseppe Pesce is promoted to Director, Aerodynamics & Chief of Staff, to support the running of the aero department reporting into Peter.

Alongside these changes, Piers Thynne moves into the expanded role of Chief Operating Officer for the Formula 1 team. This new role will support the Team Principal in the mission of innovating and elevating the standards at McLaren, to be strongly positioned to be competing at the front of the grid.

Stella: I’m delighted to welcome David Sanchez back to the team

This reorganisation has been the work of a number of months and takes place ahead of several new key infrastructure projects which are due to come online in phases throughout 2023. Additionally, the team has been undertaking a sustained recruitment campaign to increase the technical capability, with some senior appointments already made.

This strategic approach, based on organisational restructure, new infrastructure, and expansion of the workforce, creates the foundations for a stronger and more innovative Formula 1 team to enable future success.

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren Formula 1 Team, commented: “Firstly, I’d like to thank James for his hard work and commitment during his time at McLaren and wish him well for the future.

“Looking ahead, I am determined and fully focused on leading McLaren back to the front of the field. 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 maximise performance, including optimising the new infrastructure upgrades we have coming in 2023.

“Alongside Peter and Neil, I’m delighted to welcome David Sanchez back to the team to complete an experienced and highly specialised Technical Executive team, with the collective aim of delivering greater on-track car performance.

“I’m looking forward to continuing working together with Piers, who will play a fundamental role to define and deliver the plans to create an innovative and effective F1 team.”

David Sanchez commented: “I’m excited to be returning to the team in Woking and look forward to working alongside Peter and Neil and the rest of the team to achieve our performance objectives. McLaren has always had an extremely talented group of people and alongside the new infrastructure upgrades coming online this year, we have an exciting prospect ahead that I’m delighted to be a part of.”