McLaren consider legal action in Red Bull row

2014 F1 season

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McLaren are considering legal action following Red Bull’s announcement that Dan Fallows will continue to work for them.

Red Bull stated earlier today Fallows will remain at the Milton Keynes team as their head of aerodynamics. However McLaren claim they have the rights to Fallows’ services having previously announced he had been hired from their rivals.

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier gave the following statement: “Dan Fallows has a legally binding contract with McLaren and the matter is now in the hands of our lawyers.”

Fallows originally joined Red Bull in 2001, when it competed as Jaguar. He left in 2005 but returned the following year, after the team became Red Bull.

According to Red Bull, Fallows also “left the team for a short time last year” before returning.

Boullier would not comment on when Peter Prodromou, Red Bull’s former head of aerodynamics whose hiring was announced at the same time as Fallows’, will be joining McLaren. Red Bull announced today he has gone on “gardening leave” prior to his departure.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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31 comments on “McLaren consider legal action in Red Bull row”

  1. What a mess, something’s really wrong in RBR kingdom

    1. On the contrary, I think this could be another failure at McLaren, something of a loophole in Fellows’ contract maybe, from the Martin Whitmarsh-era. (I consider the 2013 slump and the lack of success in pursuing a title sponsorship deal as such.)

      I just can’t imagine Red Bull not being their usual super-professional selves in any kind of matter, so I suspect they are right by the letter of the law.

      1. I really hope you’re right, nevertheless this kind of news don’t give the “peace” the teams needs right know

  2. I just can’t get around Boullier at McLaren, for me it feels like he doesn’t belong there. He is a captain that left a sinking ship and went to look his treasure somewher else. I also don’t like him.

    1. Everybody who had the opportunity to leave will have leapt at the chance.

      It doesn’t make sense to stay at a falling team which has sponsorship and debt issues outwith your control. The World Champion driver left, the head of pitwall left when they got half a chance.

      I’m also aware of one mechanic ‘drone’ who worked in the garage that left from Lotus to join Mercedes this year. I’m sure he’s not the only one from hundreds of anonymous Lotus staff members who decided to take job security and try their luck at another team.

  3. It seems a desperate move by RBR to prevent Dan Fallows from joining McLaren, maybe the legal battle could just retard his start with McLaren nothing more than that. McLaren seem to be very serious about reorganizing their aero department after the 2013 disaster, Marcin Budkowski has left the team earlier this year (maybe good option for RBR)

    He left in 2005 but returned the following year, after the team became Red Bull.

    In that year he worked with Dallara in Italy in what could have been the F1 project with the Midland f1 racing

    1. Prevent Fallows from joining McLaren? They are promoting him to head of aerodynamics and is effectively replacing Prodromou in that role. You don’t promote someone to head of aerodyanmics just to prevent someone from joining another team. You do it because you believe in said person.

      Seems like they all they have done is try to retain his services (that isn’t unusual for companies towards high-key employees) and he has been persuaded.

      1. Juan (@gumbercules)
        9th April 2014, 15:01

        could be both, they need someone to fill Prodromou’s role and this prevents another high level aero staff member from leaving (and more importantly, going to a competitor)

  4. So Dan is running back to red bull. He must have been really impressed by what he saw of McLaren’s future plans.

    1. Or he must have been really impressed by the cash & status RedBull have thrown at him. He must feel very special.

      1. Seems to be to be the far more likely version, yes

    2. W (@yesyesyesandyesagain)
      9th April 2014, 20:27

      Maybe he was hired by Whitmarsh, walked in the door the first day at McLaren, saw Ron Dennis glaring at him and turned right around and left. Obviously Whitmarsh and Dennis have very different management styles; I’m sure working for McLaren now is very different than it was last year.

    3. @hairs, Probably he was expecting to be “Head of Aero” until his old boss Prodromou was hired by McLaren as well, opening up the post at RBR he thought he would never get.

  5. I wonder what Dan Fallows wants?

    1. A pay rise ?

    2. To ruin his reputation? I don’t see how reneging on a contractual obligation can reflect well on him.

      1. How it reflects is secondary to the amount of money and prestige he’ll get as aero leader for the most successful team of the past decade.

      2. I don’t see how reneging on a contractual obligation can reflect well on him

        The first thing this whole episode reminded me of was Adrian Newey signing with Jaguar and then reneging on it after being talked round by Ron Dennis. It doesn’t seem to have caused too many problems for him.

  6. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    9th April 2014, 12:38

    Let’s not cling to any illusion that the dominance of the past four seasons is simply the work of one superhuman genius. Newey might be the mastermind, the architect, the Da Vinci, but holding back the technical might of McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes for four seasons is simply too big a job for any man. The loss of Prodromou, and the potential loss of Fallows, in conjunction with other recent staff losses, will unquestionably have an effect, as the loss of James Allison from Enstone seems to have hampered Lotus. The important question is however, why, if Red Bull’s aerodynamic team has remained fundamentally intact for the past few seasons, are they leaving now? The tempting and obvious answer is a V6 era that doesn’t play to Red Bull’s strengths, but I would imagine the answer is much more multifactorial than that…

    1. I think the answer as to why they are leaving now will simply be in the remuneration package.

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        9th April 2014, 14:52

        @hohum – Do McLaren and Mercedes, who have been the two main poachers of Red Bull staff, suddenly have more money than they did two seasons ago, or are they more likely offering financial rewards in tandem with increased chances of on-track success?

        1. @william-brierty – Possibly Red Bull wants to stop the bleeding and shore up their shrinking aero top staff by retaining Fallows. By promoting him to head of aero they are signaling to McLaren they intend to do whatever they must to keep him. Red Bull lawyers will fight his contract legal battles and maybe RBR will arrive at a settlement with McLaren before any trial. Even if McLaren were to win in court, how productive will it be to have someone onboard who has essentially demonstrated they would rather not be there? Seems to be a move by Red Bull that hints at desperation, but it might work to keep Fallows.

          1. @bullmello Exactly. Good luck in making someone work for you who doesn’t want to. I imagine that McLaren realise this and probably just want damages since they have are legitimately aggrieved.

  7. I am absolutely outraged, who do RBR think they are that they can go around stealing back employees that McLaren have so honorably stolen from them.

    1. Before trying to sound witty, you should know that Red Bull was built on stealing people from other teams. Only teams that were really developing any significant amount of talent in the last 20 years are Enstone and McLaren. Not everyone of them started with those teams, but those are the teams in which they made their names and spent the most important time when it comes to developing themselves. Newey and Ferrari’s few key people being some of the rare few that made their names in other teams, but to be honest Newey made his name pretty much almost more than 20 years ago.

      When Red Bull bought Jaguar, they went on a shopping spree, basically buying whoever they could and in many cases finding some people redundant in process. To begin with, they started by talking Newey and Prodromou from McLaren.

      1. That’s business, so far as I can see the people we never hear of have the same right to go to the employer offering the best package as do the “Rock-star” designers, drivers and managers.

      2. F1 is the pinnacle not of motorsport but of solipsism. Everyone in F1 is in it for themselves first. I present exhibit A: FOTA. OK, probably not everyone is – Bob Fernley seems like a decent chap for example – but I think most people care about #1 first and loyalty to team etc. second. That’s for the fans…

        1. People have families and stuff. Sometimes that comes first, although its not so obvious to the naked eye.

  8. Mark in Florida
    9th April 2014, 20:34

    Red bull may have the chassis but the Renault v6 is weak. Ironic considering it was Carlos Ghosin that demanded the engine change so that F1 could be more road relevant. Talent will always jump ship when the money is right ,loyalty is a commodity to be bought and sold. RB is probably within the law or at least the gray area anyway. McLaren hasn’t been as strong I thought they would be and they are recognizing it. If they can weaken RB they are helping themselves in the long run.

  9. It is possible that he was going to Join McLaren, but decided that he would rather stay with Red Bull. After all, would rather work for Red Bull – a company that is likely more enjoyable to work for- , Or would you rather work for a company that looks like it should have armed guards at the front doors and a giant stick up their …… you know what.
    The guy probably just went back to Red Bull after seeing the working conditions at McLaren and said, “I am scared, please let me back in. Hold me!” Then he burst into tears. At least that is how I picture it.

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