Formula 1

McLaren’s James Key: “The last thing you want to do is copying your neighbour”

2 Mins read
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

James Key believes engineers should be looking at innovation and out developing their rivals rather than imitating and copying their designs, with a sly dig being aimed at the Racing Point F1 Team.

Racing Point raised eyebrows when they launched their RP20 ahead of pre-season testing due to its close resemblance to the 2019 W10 from the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, a car that took Lewis Hamilton to his sixth World Drivers’ Championship.

Whilst Racing Point has not broken any rules going down this route, Key, the Technical Director of the McLaren F1 Team, reckons engineers should be looking to find ideas that will bring the car more performance rather than copying those ideas that have been used previously.

“The last thing you want to do is copying your neighbour because you want to be out-developing him with better ideas,” Key is quoted as saying by  “The pictures tell the stories of these things and there’s been a lot of discussion but from our side we are much more concentrated on ourselves.

“Of course we have got to keep an eye on the competition and we can see Racing Point has clearly taken an enormous leap in performance, think we’d been silly not to recognise that and acknowledge it.

“From an engineering point of view as an engineer you want to go out and beat everyone else, that’s what motivates most people.” 

“I Like to Feel Responsible for the Performance Directly”

Key, who moved to McLaren after departing Scuderia AlphaTauri while they were still known as Scuderia Toro Rosso, says engineers are competitive beings, but it makes him feel good knowing he has come up with the ideas that make cars perform better rather than trying to copy a rival’s design.

Engineers are competitive people, we are, certainly when you work in F1, and you’re always up against competition from a company or another team,” said Key.  “What makes F1 unique is it’s teams versus teams as well as drivers versus drivers.

“And as an engineer you want to be the best on the grid at your particular discipline, that’s what motivates a lot of people, it’s certainly what motivates me.  It’s difficult to know how others feel about it but personally I like to feel responsible for the performance directly.”

James Key has had an influence on the design of McLaren’s MCL35 – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd
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