Zak Brown, McLaren CEO, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022

McLaren didn’t ‘play gardening leave card’ with Sauber on early Seidl move – Brown

2022 F1 season

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McLaren Racing’s CEO Zak Brown says they resisted the temptation to “play the gardening leave card” in order to delay Andreas Seidl’s arrival at his new team.

The team announced today Seidl will step down from his role as team principal to join Sauber as its new Group CEO. Sauber, whose Formula 1 team is currently branded as Alfa Romeo, will become Audi’s works team in 2026.

Seidl previously worked for Porsche, which along with Audi is part of the Volkswagen Group, in the World Endurance Championship. He gave McLaren advanced notice of his planned move, Brown told media including RaceFans.

“Andreas, who did an excellent job here at McLaren for the last handful of seasons, in a very transparent manner informed me during the season that he was going to go elsewhere when his contract was up at the end of 2025,” he said.

“It was probably pretty clear where that destination would be, which was quite understandable, given his background.”

McLaren announced today Andrea Stella will take over from Seidl “with immediate effect”. Brown said they originally planned for Seidl to see out his tenure at the team, which was due to continue for another three seasons.

“At that time we intended to continue for the foreseeable future because the relationship is very healthy and his work discipline is very strong. What we were going to do at that point was, at the end of the season, let the world know that change would come in at the end of the ’25 season.

“After we intended to go public, the first person I was going to call to see if they would lead McLaren’s Formula 1 team [was] Andrea, but not at that point being sure whether that would be something that he would consider.”

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However when it emerged Ferrari intended to replace their team principal Mattia Binotto with Alfa Romeo’s Frederic Vasseur, Sauber board chairman Finn Rausing approached Brown to ask if he would allow Seidl to join them early.

“In the fast pace of the F1 environment it became clear that Fred was going to go to Ferrari,” said Brown. “Finn Rausing is someone that I’ve known for a decade and get along with very well. He gave me a call to see if there was a discussion to be had to potentially release Andreas early.

“My reaction was if Andrea would be happy to join as team principal, then I’d be very happy to make that change now, which I think puts everyone in their permanent homes for the foreseeable future. So I went about having a conversation with Andrea, [prior to] him having any awareness that Andreas was going to move on for the ’26 season.

“After some good conversations Andrea kindly accepted the role, which then put us in a very comfortable position to move forward because Andrea was always our number one choice to lead the team moving forward. So that all came together quite rapidly and here we are with Andrea now as our team principal which myself, our drivers, our team is extremely excited about.”

Brown said Seidl let him know his planned move in “sufficient time”, and he decided against requiring to see out a period of “gardening leave” before joining their rivals as is common practice when senior staff move between teams.

“We have a great relationship, I know a lot of teams play the ‘gardening leave’ card, but I think as we’ve demonstrated at McLaren, there are ways to dissolve relationships, whether that’s with racing drivers or employees, where you can do things on very workable terms for everyone.”

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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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3 comments on “McLaren didn’t ‘play gardening leave card’ with Sauber on early Seidl move – Brown”

  1. Possible Audi Engines in 2026 for Mclaren?

  2. Fair play to Brown for orchestrating a very amicable and potentially stabilising split from Seidl, in what could have been a turbulent transition. CEO silly season has been almost as good as the driver swaps!

    Hope Stella can drive McLaren forward and best of luck to Seidl at Alfa/Audi.

    1. Andrew Stevenson
      14th December 2022, 14:51

      Agreed. A classy move in an industry of sometimes less than classy behaviour.

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