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Formula 1 Australian GP

Brown: Seidl departure helped with "aggressive" F1 technical review at McLaren

McLaren CEO Zak Brown says the change of team principal over the winter helped to foster the "aggressive" review of the technical structure at the Woking outfit.

Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing

After the Saudi Arabian GP, the team announced that technical director James Key had left and that a new arrangement had been put in place headed by three technical directors, namely Peter Prodromou (aerodynamics), Davide Sanchez (car concept and performance) and Neil Houldey (engineering and design).

Brown says that the changes were motivated by the lack of development of the 2022 car, and that the departure of former team principal Andreas Seidl at the end of last year and the appointment of Andrea Stella in his place helped to give the latter a mandate to undertake an in-depth review.

"Obviously, we started the year with some challenges in testing with the brake ducts," Brown said of McLaren's 2022 season.

"The car was okay. And then of course, we had our driver-related issues that we were working through, which kind of took the attention, if you like, and kind of the headline.

"Meanwhile, kind of underneath the surface, I wasn't happy with the pace of the development of the racing car.

"That was the second half of last year, if you're going to look at the pace of development of some of the other teams - where they started and where they ended, versus where we started and where we ended.

"So you start having conversations, and of course, we had a team principal change towards the end of the year, which allowed me the opportunity to be more aggressive in working with Andrea to give him the mandate of taking a look at the team. And that's exactly what he did."

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Brown stressed that having been at McLaren since 2015, Stella was better equipped to undertake such a review than a newcomer to the organisation.

"Obviously, him having been there meant he wasn't starting from ground zero," said Brown.

"And ultimately we came up with a model that makes total sense to us, and those internally. And we went about starting to put those plans in place.

"And so when we made the announcement, that's something that had been in the works for some time, and was co-incidental to our poor start to the season."

In dropping Key, Brown showed he's not afraid to make big decisions in order to move the team on, having parted company with Daniel Ricciardo last year.

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"Ultimately, my job is CEO, the buck stops with me," he said when asked by Autosport about the recent major calls that he had overseen. "These big decisions, you never take alone. You always consult your leadership team. So there's nothing on the technical front or within the racing team that Andrea and I don't discuss and aren't aligned on.

"But it's a competitive sport. When you aren't performing at the level you think you should, you need to make decisions to change course. And that's what we've done. And I'm confident with the direction where we're headed now."

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