McLaren appoint James Key in technical director role

Hungarian Grand Prix – James Key has left Toro Rosso to join McLaren as Technical Director, continuing the shake-up of team structure at the British team.

According to Thursday reports in the BBC, James Key has departed Toro Rosso for a period of gardening leave and will join McLaren in the role of Technical Director afterwards. The report says that the length of gardening leave is not yet known.

McLaren have been going through a tumultuous period this year, with the departure of Eric Boullier last month from his management position. Chief Technical Officer Tim Goss, having replaced Paddy Lowe in this role in 2014 and having worked with McLaren since 1990, also left two months ago. Matt Morris, having joined McLaren in 2013, has also departed, according to the same BBC report.

Along with the new appointment of James Key, Gil De Ferran was named as Sporting Director with Andrea Stella becoming Performance Director.

McLaren have been going through this revolutionary period after a poor start to 2018. Having struggled their way through the last three years with Honda power, they dropped their supply agreement with the Japanese manufacturer prematurely in order to become a Renault customer. Out of the three Renault powered teams on the grid, McLaren have been the slowest so far this year. Honda, having been picked up by Toro Rosso, have shown distinct improvement for the first time since re-entering the sport with McLaren back in 2015 and have since signed a supply agreement with Red Bull Racing – the front-running team apparently convinced that they can be a championship challenger with Honda.

With clear signs that the team are not yet on the road to recovery, CEO Zak Brown has initiated change. James Key, having worked with Jordan initially before their transitions between Spyker, Midland & the early days of Force India, left to join Sauber in 2010 before taking over as Toro Rosso’s Technical Director in 2012.

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Thomas Maher

Co-owner, Chief Editor and a journalist for - Ireland's only accredited F1 & Formula E website.

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