Brown: McLaren technical department reshuffle “had been in the works for some time”

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McLaren has recently announced a number of major personnel changes as the team looks to improve their form in the near future. The team struggled to find pace in the opening rounds of the 2023 season, failing to score points until the Australian Grand Prix.

Photo credit: McLaren Racing

Following the departure of James Key, McLaren has opted to move away from a single Executive Technical Director role in favour of an interconnected Technical Executive Team, made up of three divisions that will be reporting directly to team principal Andrea Stella.

Some of the notable names involved include Peter Prodromou (Technical Director, Aerodynamics) and Neil Houldey (Technical Director, Engineering and Design). Ex-Ferrari senior technical figure David Sanchez (now Technical Director for Car Concept and Performance at McLaren) will be returning to his former Woking-based employer, set to officially start from January 2024 after a period of gardening leave.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown dismissed the idea that the technical department reshuffle is a panicked reaction to the lacklustre performance of the MCL60, explaining that it’s simply part of an ongoing planned restructure.

“We started [2022] with some challenges in testing with the brake ducts. The car was okay.

“Then we had our driver-related issues that we were working through which took the attention, the headline.”

McLaren found themselves in the spotlight during last year’s silly season after the team decided to part ways early with Daniel Ricciardo, signing rookie Oscar Piastri. The move attracted significant media attention, which Brown claims overshadowed the structural and personnel changes that had been in the pipeline.

“Meanwhile, 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 look at the pace of development with some of the other teams where they started and where they ended, versus where we started and where we ended.”

Andreas Seidl’s move to Sauber ahead of the Audi rebranding kicked off a series of changes, with internally-promoted Andrea Stella taking over as team principal.

“We started 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 to take a look at the team and that’s exactly what he did,” said Brown.

“And obviously, him having been there meant he wasn’t starting from ground zero and ultimately came up with a model that makes total sense to us and those internally and went about starting to put those plans in place.”

“So when we made the announcement, that’s something that had been in the works for some time and was coincidental to our poor start to the season.”