Brown: 'Clear' that technical development was lagging at McLaren

© XPB 

McLaren boss Zak Brown says the extensive changes to the team's engineering department were justified by a technical development that was not moving in line with the outfit's ambitions.

Last year, McLaren lost out to Alpine as F1's top midfield contender, a regression of sorts for team papaya that was followed by a disappointing start of the team's 2023 campaign.

Notwithstanding McLaren's bad luck in Bahrain and Jeddah, the overall performance of its new MCL60 challenger has been no match for its usual midfield rivals.

McLaren announced on Thursday a significant restructuring of its technical and engineering departments that included the departure from the team of technical director James Key.

The Woking-based outfit will now function with a three-pronged F1 Technical Executive Team comprised of Peter Prodromou handling Aerodynamics, former Ferrari engineer David Sanchez assigned overseeing (from January 1, 2024) Car Concept and Performance and Neil Houdey supervising Engineering and Design.

All three technical directors will answer to McLaren F1 technical director Andrea Stella.

"It has been clear to me for some time that our technical development has not moved at a quick enough pace to match our ambition of returning to the front of the grid," explained Brown.

"I’m pleased that, having completed a full review with Andrea, we are now able to implement the restructure required to set the wheels in motion to turn this around.

"These strategic changes ensure the long-term success of the team and are necessary to see McLaren get back to winning ways.

"We have everything coming into place now with our people and infrastructure and alongside an exciting driver line-up, I’m determined to see McLaren get back to where we should be."

Stella underscored how McLaren's new technical structure provides "clarity and effectiveness" in the team's engineering department.

"Since taking on the Team Principal role I have been given the mandate to take a strategic approach to ensure the team is set on a long-term foundation, for us to build on over the years," commented Stella.

"This new structure provides clarity and effectiveness within the team’s technical department and puts us in a strong position to maximise performance, including optimising the new infrastructure upgrades we have coming in 2023.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella with Lando Norris

"Alongside Peter and Neil, I’m delighted to welcome David Sanchez back to the team to complete an experienced and highly specialised Technical Executive team, with the collective aim of delivering greater on-track car performance.

"I’m looking forward to continuing working together with Piers, who will play a fundamental role to define and deliver the plans to create an innovative and effective F1 team."

Sanchez initially joined McLaren in 2007 as a senior aerodynamicist, but moved to Ferrari in 2012 where the Frenchman headed the Scuderia's aero department before he was promoted to Chief Engineer- Vehicle Concept, leading the design and development of the 2022 Ferrari car.

Sanchez departed Ferrari last month and will assume his new role with McLaren from January 1, 2024 following a period of gardening leave imposed by Ferrari.

"I’m excited to be returning to the team in Woking and look forward to working alongside Peter and Neil and the rest of the team to achieve our performance objectives," said Sanchez.

"McLaren has always had an extremely talented group of people and alongside the new infrastructure upgrades coming online this year, we have an exciting prospect ahead that I’m delighted to be a part of."

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter