After the departure of team boss Andreas Seidl, who assumed the role of CEO at Sauber, Stella and McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the organization’s leadership structure. This evaluation resulted in the immediate departure of executive technical director James Key, who has since joined Seidl at Sauber. To fill the void, McLaren implemented a three-part system that encompasses aerodynamics, car concept and performance, as well as engineering and design.
Peter Prodromou was promoted to head the aerodynamic division, while David Sanchez was recruited from Ferrari to lead car concept and performance. Initially, Neil Houldey was elevated to oversee engineering and design, but when Red Bull’s chief engineering officer, Rob Marshall, became available, McLaren swiftly appointed Marshall, leading to Houldey assuming a deputy position.
Stella acknowledges that McLaren’s new structure bears resemblance to Red Bull’s complex system. Red Bull’s technical team, led by Adrian Newey, consists of Pierre Wache, Paul Monaghan, and Ben Waterhouse.
Stella asserts that McLaren’s previous setup did not lack experience or clear leadership, but the aim now is to introduce more diverse and competitive ideas to aid their ascent in the standings. When asked to explain the reorganization, Stella emphasized the importance of generating competitive ideas rather than focusing solely on decision-makers.
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / F1 Flow Images
Stella stated to F1Flow.com, “I believe this configuration is robust because it’s not about who makes decisions, but rather about how we can generate competitive ideas to bring to the table. What McLaren lacked was not decision-makers but rather the ability to generate competitive ideas for building a fast car. This is where we have faced challenges. We believe this new structure addresses that.”
McLaren had previously faced criticism for having an excessively complex management structure during a period of uncompetitiveness. For the 2015 season, when McLaren reestablished its engine partnership with Honda, former team principal Eric Boullier oversaw another three-pronged technical team. Tim Goss (technical), Matt Morris (engineering), and Prodromou (aerodynamics) collaborated on the MP4/30, which led the team to a ninth-place finish in the championship.
Stella, a former engineer, explains that the latest arrangement has been designed to foster synergy among the leaders in each department. He emphasized the importance of covering the necessary technical functions in modern Formula 1, which, according to him, include aerodynamics, performance, and concept. Stella also highlighted the significance of planning for the future, such as the 2026 new engine regulations, and the need for leaders who excel in each area to bring their expertise to the table.
He stated, “At McLaren, we have adopted a conceptual approach: aerodynamics, performance and concept, engineering and design. We then made the decision to select the most capable leader in each of these areas.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about F1 technical leadership overhaul
What led to McLaren’s F1 technical leadership overhaul?
Following the departure of team boss Andreas Seidl and a major review of the leadership structure, McLaren implemented the overhaul to bring in new ideas and expertise.
Who were the key personnel changes in McLaren’s technical leadership?
Executive technical director James Key left the team, while Peter Prodromou was promoted to lead the aerodynamic division and David Sanchez was recruited from Ferrari to head car concept and performance. Rob Marshall, previously with Red Bull, was swiftly appointed as well.
How does McLaren’s new structure resemble Red Bull’s?
Both teams have adopted a complex system with leaders overseeing specific areas. McLaren’s structure focuses on aerodynamics, car concept and performance, and engineering and design, similar to Red Bull’s setup with Adrian Newey leading the technical team.
What was the motivation behind the restructuring?
McLaren sought to introduce more competitive ideas to improve their performance. They aimed to generate fresh ideas and perspectives, emphasizing the importance of ideas rather than solely focusing on decision-makers.
Has McLaren faced criticism for its previous management structure?
Yes, McLaren previously faced criticism for having an overly complex management structure during a period of uncompetitiveness. The reorganization aims to address these concerns and streamline the leadership approach.
How does McLaren plan for the future with this new structure?
McLaren’s new structure takes into account future considerations, such as the 2026 new engine regulations. They emphasize the need for leaders who excel in areas like aerodynamics, performance, and concept to shape the team’s approach to future challenges.