James Key, Toro Rosso, 2018

Alonso looking forward to Key arrival but Toro Rosso insist ‘He has a long-term contract”

2018 F1 season

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Toro Rosso and McLaren are at odds over the future of the Red Bull junior team’s technical director James Key.

McLaren confirmed earlier today that Key will be joining them as technical director.

However Toro Rosso subsequently released a statement on social media in which its team principal Franz Tost insisted: “James Key has a long term valid contract with the team.

“The contents of the contract are confidential, therefore we won’t comment on any of the details.”

Key joined Toro Rosso from Sauber in 2012. He has won praise for his designs for the team, which has finished seventh in the constructors’ championship for the past four seasons.

He had been tipped for a potential move to Red Bull in the future as the team’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey reduces his role at Toro Rosso’s sister team.

McLaren is restructuring its operation in response to its poor start to the current season. Racing director Eric Boullier resigned his position ahead of the British Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso said he hopes Key can join the team soon.

“Obviously I think anyone coming to McLaren with the experience and background of James is always welcome,” he said. “There cannot be any downside of it.

“Let’s see if he can come soon enough to make an impact already from this year or next year’s car.”

McLaren also announced the resignation of chief engineering officer Matt Morris, who joined them from Sauber in 2013.

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11 comments on “Alonso looking forward to Key arrival but Toro Rosso insist ‘He has a long-term contract””

  1. Surely this should be black and white?

  2. I suspect Key’s phone is running hot with calls from both teams.

  3. Torro Rosso wants McLaren to give them some compensation no doubt. They can’t stop him from leaving.
    Zak takes a lot of flak but he is successful at United Motorsports and has what it takes.
    Key will no doubt bring some talent with him – I like the move.

    1. Torro Rosso wants McLaren to give them some compensation…

      Or Norris about it.

      1. I think you are right.
        A loan for a year or two might not be a bad idea.
        McLaren can find out if he is talented enough for F1.

      2. Maybe even Stoffel. Stoffel would be doing a better job than Hartley, and would definitely be a more accurate benchmark for Gasly’s performances.

        1. @todfod what a dramatic setback for Stoffel’s career it would be.

  4. This is one of the better moves Mclaren have made.

    If the pull of signing Ricciardo after this, it will nothing short of a miracle.

  5. If Key has a contract then I imagine that at best he’ll be forced to take gardening leave for at least 6 months.

    That means Mclaren are unlikely to reap any benefit until at least 2020 so 2019 might as well be scrapped.

    Might seem like a good move but is it really?

    1. No, he won’t have to wait 6 months.
      And he won’t be sitting at home watching soap operas on his “gardening” leave.
      There are ways he can contribute without being in the confines of the factory.
      It’s not a good move – it’s a great move and one McLaren fans should be rejoicing for.

      1. In all earnest, gardening leave is exactly that: you can’t start with your new employer because you are still employed by the previous one, albeit dining nothing.
        It is totally irrelevant ‘where’ you can work; you cannot work at all for a new employer.

        I’m sure they settle this.

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