Zhou Expresses Surprise Over Unexpected Key Signing for Alfa Romeo

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James Key’s dismissal from a similar position at McLaren earlier this year was a consequence of a reorganization of technical roles. Key’s subsequent hiring by former boss and current CEO of Sauber F1 Flow, Andreas Seidl, positions him to ready the Swiss firm for Audi’s arrival in 2026.

Key, who spent time at Sauber from 2010 to 2012, is slated to join the Hinwil team on the first of September. He takes over from former technical director Jan Monchaux, who is now on a gardening break.

Zhou admits he anticipated changes at Sauber due to Audi’s impending takeover but didn’t foresee such a significant acquisition so soon.

“I was somewhat taken aback,” Zhou remarked. “I had a sense that the team was evolving in preparation for 2026, but I did not anticipate the pace of change.

“I believe Andreas is assembling a team to welcome Audi. So, I am satisfied with whatever steps Andreas takes. I have the impression that he has the team’s best interest at heart.

“I hope that James will join the team and bring fresh ideas. This will allow us to maintain momentum and potentially advance further by the season’s end.”

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

Photo by: FIA Pool

When questioned by F1 Flow.com about the unusual move of hiring someone deemed unnecessary elsewhere, Zhou emphasized his trust in Seidl’s judgement.

“I’m unaware of the details at McLaren and the reason for his exit,” Zhou said. “However, I have heard that Andreas and James had an excellent working relationship.

“I understand that they were at McLaren during its challenges, its days at the rear, and played a pivotal role in transforming it into a race-winning car, achieving several podium finishes.

“I’m confident they both know their roles, and I am fully supportive of them and the decisions Andreas makes.

“I’m sure this move aligns with his vision for the team, both internally and externally. I’m comfortable with all of this.”

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In the meantime, Zhou underlines that the primary objective for the team is to reduce drag, noting the progress made with recent enhancements.

“Our long-term aim for the team is clear, to achieve less drag,” he stated. “This way, we wouldn’t have to resort to lower wings on numerous tracks to ensure we don’t face problems with top speed during the race.

“Each package indeed offers aerodynamic performance, but low drag doesn’t materialize overnight or even over a couple of race weekends. It’s more of a long-term focus, potentially extending into next year or later this year, to address these issues effectively.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Alfa Romeo Team Changes

Who is James Key and why was he hired by Alfa Romeo?

James Key is a renowned Technical Director in Formula 1 who previously worked at McLaren. He was hired by Alfa Romeo to replace their former technical director, Jan Monchaux. Key’s expertise and experience are expected to contribute to the team’s development and prepare for the arrival of Audi in 2026.

What is the significance of James Key’s appointment for Alfa Romeo?

James Key’s appointment is seen as a surprise move, indicating the team’s commitment to strengthening their technical capabilities. It demonstrates Alfa Romeo’s determination to be well-prepared for the future challenges and the impending entry of Audi into the sport.

How does Zhou feel about James Key joining Alfa Romeo?

Zhou expresses his surprise at the early signing of James Key and supports the decision made by Andreas Seidl, the CEO of Sauber F1 Flow. Zhou believes that Seidl is building a strong team for the future and expects Key’s arrival to bring fresh ideas and contribute to the team’s progress by the end of the season.

What are the team’s goals in terms of performance improvements?

The team’s main focus is on reducing drag to enhance their overall performance. They aim to minimize the need for lower wings on certain tracks to maintain top speed during races. The team acknowledges that achieving low drag is a long-term objective that may require time and continuous development efforts.

What is the opinion on James Key’s hiring considering his departure from McLaren?

Although the details of James Key’s departure from McLaren are not known, Zhou expresses faith in the partnership between Key and Andreas Seidl, emphasizing their successful collaboration in turning McLaren’s performance around. Zhou believes that both Key and Seidl understand what they are doing and supports the decisions made by Seidl for the betterment of the team.

More about Alfa Romeo Team Changes

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F1Fanatic22 June 16, 2023 - 2:28 pm

wow, didn’t expect James Key 2 join Alfa Romeo so fast! i think this means they serious about gettin’ ready 4 Audi’s entry in 2026. Zhou seems happy n supportiv, i hope Key bring sum fresh ideas!

RacingEnthusiast June 16, 2023 - 2:54 pm

So Key was hired by Alfa Romeo afta bein’ let go by McLaren. I don’t know the details, but it seems like he n Seidl worked well 2gether. They turned McLaren around, so maybe they can do the same at Alfa Romeo. Excitin’ times!

SpeedDemon123 June 16, 2023 - 10:00 pm

Drag reduction is the key 4 Alfa Romeo, they wanna go faster n not compromise on top speed. But it takes time, not somethin’ that happens overnight. Hopefully, they can figure it out by next year or the end of this season.

RaceTrackGuru June 16, 2023 - 11:22 pm

Interesting move by Alfa Romeo hiring Key. They must see somethin’ in him despite gettin’ let go by McLaren. Zhou seems supportive of the decision, so let’s see how it plays out on the track. Excited for the future of the team!


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