David Sanchez

McLaren announces surprise departure of Sanchez three months after return

Formula 1

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David Sanchez has left McLaren just three months after returning to the team from Ferrari.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella said he and Sanchez agreed he was “misaligned” in the role he took on last January.

“Following thoughtful discussions between David Sanchez and the team leadership, the mutual decision has been taken for David to leave the team,” said Stella. “Upon our joint reflection, it became apparent that the role, responsibilities and ambitions associated with David’s position did not align with our original expectations when he agreed to join us in February 2023.

“Recognising this misalignment, both David and I agreed that it would be best to part ways now, so to enable him to pursue other opportunities that will better leverage the full scale and breadth of his remarkable skillset. We greatly and gratefully value the contributions that David has made during his relatively short time with us and we wish him the best in his future endeavours.”

The team announced in March last year Sanchez had been hired as part of a shake-up of its technical division in the wake of its poor start to the season, when former technical James Key left the team. Sanchez was originally named as McLaren’s new technical director.

Two months later McLaren announced it had also hired Rob Marshall from Red Bull. He was given the role of “technical director, engineering and design” while Sanchez was named “technical director for car concept and performance.” Meanwhile Neil Houldey was given the brief of “of deputy technical director, engineering and design.”

However Sanchez said today the role he took on did not match his expectations. “While the role we envisioned and had agreed to was not aligned with the reality of the position I found, I leave with respect for the leadership, admiration for the dedication of my colleagues, and appreciation for the openness and honesty in which we discussed and arrived at this decision.”

His first role in F1 was with Renault, after which he spent five years at McLaren, then joined Ferrari in 2013. Sanchez indicated he intends to find a new role within F1.

Following Sanchez’s departure, McLaren has again revised its technical structure. Marshall is now chief designer, Houldey is technical director for engineering and Peter Prodromou remains technical director for aerodynamics. The team also intends to appoint a technical director for performance, and Stella will hold that position in the meantime.

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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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14 comments on “McLaren announces surprise departure of Sanchez three months after return”

  1. Ahm, ok. Maybe they should have cleared that in the year since hiring him? I guess better part ways right away than let issues simmer, but not a great sign of being a well working team.

  2. Too many cooks.

    At least they’ve acknowledged it early and parted on good terms (no doubt with a golden goodbye to soften the blow)

  3. I wonder if Lando and Zak will have a misalignment later on in the year.

    1. Could have a huge impact on the 2025 driver market hopefully

    2. I understand that Lando often naps while tucked into Zak’s jacket like a joey. So, I’m guessing they’re well aligned.

  4. “While the role we envisioned and had agreed to was not aligned with the reality of the position I found”

    So they lied to him about the job he would fill…

    1. That one is possibly a two-way street.
      1. The post he went to was not as he imagined, and he didn’t feel he fit the requirements
      2. The candidate was not what the employer imagined, and they felt he didn’t fit the requirements

      Pick your own percentages for each. You’re probably going to be wrong, but no one outside a small group, directly involved, will ever know.

      “We mutually agreed that he could resign” covers a multitude of scenarios.

      1. He does explicitly say that he agreed to a different role than the one he was expected to fill later on. It’s is really a rather harsh statement by Sanchez, which suggests that he is royally p’d off.

      2. the way this whole affair is described, it looks like after hiring him, they were able to get Marshall from Red Bull and that would have changed the situation, since now Marshall got put on top where when they hired Sanchez he was probably not aware of that (and indeed, McLaren itself would probably not have been all too sure they would be able to lure Marshall over), making for a very different job than he (they?) anticipated a year ago.

  5. I actually wonder if it’s just as simple as his ideas/ways of working don’t mesh with the concepts the other heads of departments want to pursue, and as the ‘director of performance concept’, he thought he’d have more seniority to sway it that way but has effectively been outvoted and found he doesn’t have the powers he though he would have and felt he needed, given too many people were there to effectively veto a direction.

    That’s certainly the hint i take from ‘to enable him to pursue other opportunities that will better leverage the full scale and breadth of his remarkable skillset’. Reads like ‘Didn’t have a wide enough scope, too many hands on not enough levers’.

  6. Turns out he wasn’t related to Carlos.

  7. Very strange indeed. I thought Stella and Sanchez had worked together previously so would be aware of each other’s skill sets

  8. Zac signed too many – has he done that before?
    Marshall being “technical director, engineering and design” with Sanchez as “technical director for car concept and performance” would leave him without control of the actualisation of the car but with the responsibility of its results.

  9. That sounds like a rather complicated separation/sharing of responsibilities. It’s easy to see why that would not work out as one or both parties expected. Sounds like they were very mature about it, which is fair enough.

    The projects he worked on at Ferrari weren’t title winners, but many did win races. I suppose quite a few teams will be giving Sanchez a call.

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