McLaren Formula 1 technical director James Key has left the team and will be replaced with a revised technical structure that includes David Sanchez joining from Ferrari.
After encouraging progress from its late-2010s nadir, McLaren’s bid to return to the front in F1 has stalled in the last couple of years.
It started the new aerodynamic ruleset in 2022 behind its leading midfield rivals and was beaten to fourth in the championship by Alpine.
McLaren has failed to score points in the opening two races of 2023 which, while exaggerated by some unusual circumstances, is at least partly down to having to start the season with an outdated car concept.
There is a significant upgrade due at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix that is the result of a development direction McLaren moved onto too late to have it ready for the start of 2023.
In response to these setbacks, McLaren has opted to revise its technical structure and move away from one single technical director.
Key leaves the team and in his place an “F1 technical executive team” is being installed, with three specialised technical director roles reporting to team principal Andreas Stella.
Peter Prodromou will be “technical director, aerodynamics”, Sanchez will return to McLaren after a decade at Ferrari next January as “technical director, car concept and performance” while Neil Houldey is promoted to “technical director, engineering and design”.
Elsewhere in the organisation, Giuseppe Pesce becomes director of aerodynamics and chief of staff “to support the running of the aero department” while Piers Thynne takes on an expanded role as chief operating officer.
Change was needed. We push forward! https://t.co/7XwH46d9aR
— Zak Brown (@ZBrownCEO) March 23, 2023
“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,” said Stella, who took over as team principal in December following Andreas Seidl’s move to McLaren.
“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.”