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McLaren reacts to its decline

McLaren reacts to its decline

Third in 2020, fourth in 2021 and fifth in 2022. McLaren’s scale it has been sinking progressively, to hit rock bottom in 2023 which, much to its regret, has only just begun. After two races the Woking team has been unable to score a point and ranks last in the Constructors’ World Championship. And although it may seem too premature to draw conclusions in a contest in which there is still to be played all season, the evidence is too clear not to react to the signals. Or at least that is how they have understood it from the British factory, which has activated a process of organizational changes in which the head of James Key.

To the British engineer, who landed in the ranks of McLaren as technical director in March 2019, he was entrusted with the mission of developing an MCL35 that has not lived up to the new standards that Formula 1 has introduced. But the aggravating circumstance is that, together with the return of the Woking factory in 2015, it was expected the recovery of a legendary team dominator that continues to be unable to regain its place, despite having tried everything (Honda, Renault and Mercedes). After several attempts, the signing of Key, who arrived next to Andreas Seidl’s, Team manager now at Sauber, he promised that this time would be the right one and yet, the path taken by the papaya team shows how they have to continue looking for solutions.

The main one in this process goes through a restructuring in which McLaren will have a team with three technical directors. Peter Prodromou (with 32 years of F1 experience) will deal with aerodynamics, Neil Houldey (first joined the team in 2006) from engineering and design and David Sanchez, who arrives as Key’s replacement and will begin his work in January 2024, in car concept. The French engineer, leader of the SF23 concept, left Ferrari after a decade and voluntarily at the beginning of this month, to join the ranks of Woking, where he already served in 2007. His adventure in the aerodynamics department put a point and apart in 2012 and the move he executed leaving the scuderiaagrees with the British structure argument, which claims that this renovation project “started several months ago”.

Focused on the future

It is impossible to know the exact time, but not the function of a trio that will report directly to Stella all the information of a process, in which the name of the process also appears Giuseppe Pesce as director of aerodynamics. His mission will be to support the operation of the aerodynamic department that reports to Peter and along with these changes, Piers Thynne assumes the role of director of operations in F1. The appointments are intended, in a way, pass up a march that Stella has recognized: I would like to thank James (key) for their hard work and commitment.” But “looking to the future” the objective is “to bring McLaren back to the front in the championship” and within that mission, the British engineer no longer has a place.

“It is important now that we make sure we have a solid base as the next phase of our journey”, complements Brown, CEO of the team, with an allusion that is too direct: “It has been clear to me for a long time that our technical development has not moved to a fast enough pace to live up to our ambition to return to the front of the grid.” Hence, after “a complete review with Andrea” some changes arrive “that will ensure the long-term success of the team. They are necessary for McLaren to win again.”

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