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Brown concedes Ricciardo drama overshadowed major McLaren staff changes

McLaren insist that their recent staff shakeup has been part of an ongoing team restructure, rather than a kneejerk reaction to their start to the season.

Ricciardo Brown
To news overview © XPBimages

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has suggested Daniel Ricciardo's struggles with the team pushed extensive staff restructuring "underneath the surface" last year.

Red Bull reserve driver Ricciardo was dropped at the end of last season by McLaren with a year remaining on his contract in favour of rookie Oscar Piastri after lacklustre performances alongside teammate Lando Norris - despite securing victory in the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.

But the Woking-based outfit has endured a difficult start to the new term, with Norris and Piastri forced to wait until Australia to secure the first points of the season after numerous issues across the opening two rounds.

McLaren announced organisational changes ahead of the Albert Park weekend, with Technical Director James Key departing and the role remoulded to accommodate a new structure.

Ricciardo issues 'took the attention'

Peter Prodromou [Technical Director, Aerodynamics], Neil Houldey [Technical Director, Engineering and Design] and David Sanchez [Technical Director, Car Concept and Performance] will make up the new Technical Executive team, though the latter will wait until January next year to join after leaving Ferrari.

Explaining the structural changes were set in motion during the "second half" of last year but overshadowed by Ricciardo's troubles, Brown told media, including RacingNews365.com: "We started [2022] with some challenges in testing with the brake ducts. The car was okay.

"Then we had our driver-related issues that we were working through which took the attention, the headline.

"Meanwhile, underneath the surface, I wasn't happy with the pace of the development of the racing car. That was the second half of last year - if you look at the pace of development with some of the other teams where they started and where they ended, versus where we started and where we ended."

			© XPB Images
	© XPB Images

Seidl accelerated restructuring process

McLaren lost former Team Principal Andreas Seidl to Sauber when the German became CEO at the Hinwil-based outfit, filling the void left by now-Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur.

On how Seidl's departure and Andrea Stella's subsequent appointment as successor accelerated the internal review, Brown added: "We started having conversations and, of course, we had a Team Principal change towards the end of the year, which allowed me the opportunity to be more aggressive in working with Andrea to give him the mandate to take a look at the team and that's exactly what he did.

"And obviously, him having been there meant he wasn't starting from ground zero and ultimately came up with a model that makes total sense to us and those internally and went about starting to put those plans in place.

"So when we made the announcement, that's something that had been in the works for some time and was coincidental to our poor start to the season."

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