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Key out, Sanchez in as McLaren restructures F1 team

McLaren has announced a major restructuring of its Formula 1 team, which includes the departure of technical director James Key and the arrival of former Ferrari engineer David Sanchez.

James Key, Technical Director, McLaren, in the team principals Press Conference

Off the back of a disappointing start to the 2023 campaign, with the squad having yet to score a point in the opening two grands prix of the season, McLaren has revealed a revamp of its technical department.

As Key, who joined the team in early 2019, departs the outfit with immediate effect, McLaren has opted for a new structure.

The team is to move away from having a single technical director, and will instead put in place a team of three key specialists who will report directly to team principal Andrea Stella.

This trio will include former Ferrari head of vehicle concept David Sanchez, who recently resigned from the Italian squad.

The Frenchman is currently on gardening leave, so cannot join McLaren until 1 January 2024, but will eventually have the position of technical director of car concept and performance.

Sanchez will work alongside Peter Prodromou, who moves into the role of technical director for aerodynamics.

Neil Houldey is being promoted into the newly created role of technical director for engineering and design.

As well as the creation of the new technical executive team, McLaren has announced other changes within its organisation.

Giuseppe Pesce has been promoted to director of aerodynamics & chief of staff, to support the running of the aero department. He will report directly to Prodromou.

Piers Thynne will also be moving into an expanded role of chief operating officer for the Formula 1 team, where he will help support Stella in lifting the standards at the team.

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Stella, who took over as team principal over the winter, felt that the team needed to shake up its technical department ahead of facilities like its new wind tunnel and simulator coming on tap later this year.

“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 about Key.

“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.”

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Sanchez, who previously worked at McLaren from 2007 to 2012, said he was looking forward to rejoining the squad.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

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