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Formula 1 Australian GP

Stella: New McLaren technical structure will “unleash” potential

McLaren Formula 1 team principal Andrea Stella says that the new technical structure at the Woking team will "unleash" resources that were not being fully utilised.

Andrea Stella, Team Principal, McLaren

Erstwhile technical director James Key has departed McLaren, leaving a three-pronged new arrangement headed by three technical directors, namely Peter Prodromou (aerodynamics), Davide Sanchez (car concept and performance) and Neil Houldey (engineering and design).

Stella suggested that under the previous structure the contribution of Prodromou in particular had been restricted.

“I think there were some limitations somehow associated with the model,” said Stella. “In aerodynamics, we wanted to have a technical director that leads aerodynamics. Full empowerment to this technical director.

“And we wanted to unleash a very strong resource that we had internally, and that, for some reasons was under-utilised, like Peter Prodromou, one of the most competent experts in F1 in relation to aerodynamics.

“And this wasn't happening as efficiently as it should have happened, let's say, so this is something we wanted to fix.

“And it perfectly fits the model at the same time by giving aerodynamics clear leadership, clear guidance as to the concepts that we wanted to develop and lead to the car.”

Stella stressed that the focus was on combining science and common sense in order to to make the car faster.

“Part of the model as well was the approach to performance,” he said. “We wanted to improve in terms of definitely being strongly scientifically based, but at the same time, F1 is a quick game, and fast. You need to be pragmatic sometimes, to utilise calm common sense. And I don't think we were very good at doing that previously.

“And another thing we wanted to improve is empowerment. We have senior members in aerodynamics, the senior members in the technical department, these guys, they need to unleash their expertise, they need to be able to make decisions.

“This makes the whole team move faster. And this is also something that we needed to address from a model point of view and, if you want, in particular through the restructure and the appointment of leaders.”

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Stella hinted that under Key’s technical leadership there was a cap on ideas.

“I think there's a misunderstanding when it comes to decision-making in F1,” he said. “I think people think that you are there all the time with somebody making a decision. But in reality, it's much more about creating competitive ideas, because this is what leads to natural decisions.

“This is the position in which we want to put McLaren in the future. We don't want to be at a very comfortable table with somebody in charge making all the decisions, but very uncompetitive in terms of the ideas we bring to the table.

“Or with the one actually being in charge kind of setting an upper limit to the level and the quality of the ideas the group generates.”

Stella also acknowledged that the team has to run with a temporary structure until former Ferrari man Sanchez joins in January.

As part of that McLaren veteran Neil Oatley, who has recently been working on non-F1 projects, has been recalled to action.

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“We are creating some measures to compensate for this vacancy,” said Stella. “There are groups that will report to David, like the vehicle performance group, some other performance analysis, competencies that we have in race engineering. They will kind of step up in terms of contributing to the concept and to the performance analysis.

“I'm even more involved myself in supporting the technical exec from a car concept point of view. And we have also deployed Neil Oatley to help in this transitional phase.

“So we have stronger resources available at McLaren. In the short term, we are going to make  a bit of a tactical usage of these resources, while the long term is a strategic foundation, obviously.”

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