James Key has left his role as Executive Technical Director of the McLaren F1 Team as part of an organisational reshuffle following a disappointing start to the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.
McLaren have failed to score points in either the Bahrain or Saudi Arabian Grand Prix leaving them bottom of the Constructors’ Championship, and Key has been relieved of his duties as a result.
As part of the reshuffle, Peter Prodromou will switch to the role of Technical Director of Aerodynamics, with Giuseppe Pesce being promoted to Director of Aerodynamics and Chief of staff.
David Sanchez will join the team as Technical Director of Car Concept and Performance next January after he ends his gardening leave having recently left Scuderia Ferrari, while Neil Houldey is being promoted to a new role of Technical Director of Engineering and Design.
Another move sees Piers Thynne move into the role of Chief Operating Officer for the Formula 1 Team, with the team admitting all the moves have been months in the making.
“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 Andrea Stella, the Team Principal at 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.”
Zak Brown, the CEO of McLaren, says it was important to switch things around to ensure they have a solid foundation at Woking, and he hopes the new set-up will be able to quicken their technical development, something he feels has been going to slowly under the previous team.
“It’s important now that we ensure we have a solid foundation as the next phase of our journey,” said Brown. “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.”