Key joining McLaren (Updated)


Toro Rosso technical director James Key is to leave Toro Rosso for a similar role at McLaren as the Woking team seeks to reverse its current fortunes.

The move makes sense, for while McLaren clearly needed a strong technical director – a role that hasn’t actually existed at Woking for some time - despite the limitations at Faenza, Key has consistently produced competitive, pretty cars.

In April, McLaren parted company with chief technical officer, Tim Goss, followed, earlier this month by race director Eric Boullier.

Now, following the news that engineering director Matt Morris has left Woking, aerodynamicist Peter Prodromou is the only 'original' member of the technical team assembled at the team’s previous technical reshuffle.

Confirmation of the move came several hours after rumours began circulating in the Hungaroring paddock, McLaren subsequently tweeting that it was "pleased to confirm that James Key will join the team in the role of technical director".

Key's F1 career began with Jordan, who he joined in 1998, first as a data engineer and subsequently as a race engineer.

A stint in the wind tunnel was followed by promotion to the role of head of the vehicle dynamics department, and in 2005 he was appointed technical director shortly before the team was sold.

Remaining with Jordan in its various subsequent guises, first as MF1, then Spyker and finally Force India, he moved to Sauber in 2010 before moving again in 2012, this time to Toro Rosso.

In recent times he has been linked with a number of teams including Williams and Ferrari, but now seemingly McLaren has made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

It is unclear when exactly Essex-born Key will join McLaren, for while it is claimed the announcement will be made in the coming days, there is certain to be a certain amount of gardening leave involved.

Currently seventh in the standings, following its costly divorce from Honda, McLaren has not made the progress intended. Indeed, despite the best efforts of Fernando Alonso the situation had appeared to be worsening.

Last year, the Woking outfit claimed that other than the issues it was facing with the power unit, the MCL32 was the best chassis out there, this year's performance, with a race-winning engine has blown that claim out of the water.

While good news for McLaren, Key's departure will be a blow for Toro Rosso and possibly Red Bull as the Briton had a year's head start in working with the Honda power unit that the Austrian team will be using from next season.

Check out our Thursday gallery from the Hungaroring, here.

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Published: 26/07/2018
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