McLaren Formula One technical director James Key leaves in team restructure

Will McLaren's team restructure benefit their results on track? (2:32)

Laurence Edmondson reacts to James Key's departure from McLaren as technical director. (2:32)

McLaren have announced the departure of technical director James Key as part of a design team overhaul that will see the leadership of its technical department split between three people.

The news follows a disappointing start to McLaren's 2023 campaign, with the team failing to score a point in the opening two races after admitting it had missed its development targets over the winter.

With the departure of Key, the development of the car will now be overseen by a new "technical executive team" instead of the traditional single technical director.

Ferrari's former head of vehicle concept David Sanchez will be one of the three heads on the new technical executive team, returning to McLaren at the start of next year after a decade at Ferrari and taking on the role of technical director, car concept and performance.

Peter Prodromou, who rejoined McLaren from Red Bull in 2014 after being a part of the team's title winning years between 2010 and 2013, will take the role of technical director, aerodynamics, while Neil Houldey, who has been at McLaren since 2006, will be promoted into the newly created role of technical director, engineering and design.

The three new technical directors will look to reverse McLaren's fortunes at a critical time for the team as it prepares to start work in an eagerly-anticipated new wind tunnel later this year.

The overall direction of the team will continue to be overseen by new team principal Andrea Stella, who took over the role from Andreas Seidl at the start of this year, and McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown.

"It's important now that we ensure we have a solid foundation as the next phase of our journey," Brown said. "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. 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 added: "Firstly, I'd like to thank James for his hard work and commitment during his time at McLaren and wish him well for the future. Looking ahead, I am determined and fully focused on leading McLaren back to the front of the field.

"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.

"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.

"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."