Former F1 driver Emanuele Pirro departs McLaren Driver Development Programme

Lando Norris driving his McLaren down the pit lane in Bahrain
Photo Credit: McLaren Racing
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Emanuele Pirro has left his role managing the McLaren Driver Development Programme.

The Italian spent just a year in the position, at the helm of an academy with plenty of talent.

Pirro said in an Instagram post: “After a year of hard and satisfaction, I will be leaving the McLaren DDP.

“Together with the Formula 1 team, I was able to put in place a structure to help develop young, talented and hard-working drivers into future McLaren champions.”

The academy was restructured in 2023 to create a better pathway for drivers to move from karting up the ladder to Formula 1. 

It features IndyCar race winner Pato O’Ward, GB3 and FRECA driver Ugo Ugochukwu, F1 reserve Ryo Hirakawa, F1 Academy’s Bianca Bustamante and Italian F4 driver Brando Badoer who has a one-year option.

Pirro continued: “To the best of my ability, I carried out this task, scouting and signing young stars which I truly feel can carve their names into the history books.

“I trust that the internet resources who will run the DDP will continue on my path and help the programme grow, giving the type of unique support developing drivers need alongside the professionalism and experience of the great teams they are all representing.”

Photo Credit: McLaren Racing

Control of the academy will now come under F1 business operations director Stephanie Carlin as they bring the young driver programme in-house.

“I have done my best in transmitting the lessons and the mistakes made in a life motorsport and now I step aside and let the programme walk on its own legs, grateful for the opportunity that has been given to me.

“I wish all the best to Gabriel, Ugo, Bianca, Pato, Ryo and Brando, along with the future drivers with whom a collaboration has already begun. With all of you and your competitors, your future of the sport I have grown to love so much is in safe hands. I am now ready for new challenges.”

McLaren has restructured within the F1 team too, as Rob Marshall takes over the role of chief designer as former Ferrari engineer David Sanchez departs the team by mutual consent after a ‘misalignment.’