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Zak Brown & Co. Dealt Severe Blow as McLaren’s Mastermind Leaves to Join F1 Rivals in Shocking Turn of Events

Published 06/07/2023, 9:30 AM EDT

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Just after McLaren announced the signing of Rob Marshall from Red Bull as their technical director for the 2024 season, In a surprising turn of events, a rival team has announced the signing of the team’s new F1 technical director, dealing a severe blow to Zak Brown and his team at McLaren.

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James Key, a former technical director at McLaren, will take on his new role at Alfa Romeo on September 1, replacing Jan Monchaux, as reported by This move marks a return to the Hinwil-based outfit for Key. He previously served as Sauber’s technical director between 2010 and 2012, where he played a significant role in the design of the successful C31.


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Key will reunite with former McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl, who is now the CEO of the Sauber Group. This partnership sets the stage for Sauber’s transformation into the Audi Works team when the German manufacturer enters Formula 1 in 2026. Both Key and Seidl expressed their delight in this reunion. They their shared vision for shaping the future of the team.

I am delighted to be returning to Hinwil to work with old and new colleagues at Sauber; I have very fond memories of my time there before,” said Key. Seidl added, “James’s appointment is a crucial step on this journey. He will lead the transformation process of the technical side of the team, giving us the tools and direction we need to tackle the future.”

After Flirting With Daniel Ricciardo for Months, Drive to Survive Star Turn His Back at the Driver in Waiting

While Alfa Romeo celebrates this significant addition to their team, McLaren finds itself grappling with ongoing struggles.

Lando Norris highlights the struggles of Mclaren


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Lando Norris, McLaren’s young and talented driver, expressed his frustrations after the Spanish Grand Prix in 2023. Norris admitted to the media, including The Race, “We’re slow; we have been all year. I don’t know; there’s nothing else to say.” He highlighted the team’s inability to match the pace of its top competitors and their continued struggle to finish in the top 10.

via Reuters

McLaren’s current performance doesn’t come as a surprise. The team had already realized their risk of not being ready for the start of the season. They openly admitted missing developmental deadlines during the car launch season, setting the stage for a challenging year. Norris’s candid remarks reflect the disappointment and frustration shared by the team and their fans.

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Watch this story: “F**ked It Up Again”: Lando Norris’ Frustrated Apology After Bad Luck at 2023 Monaco GP

The road to redemption will be arduous. But if there’s one thing that history has shown, it’s that McLaren is no stranger to overcoming adversity and emerging stronger on the other side.




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Vidhita is an F1 writer at EssentiallySports. Driven by her deep passion for motorsports and a love for the exhilaration of speed. Since 2016, she has been captivated by the world of F1 after watching a race with a relative, and her fascination has only grown stronger over the years.

Edited By: Akash Pandhare