Written By Hugh Waring, Edited by Meghana Sree
Alfa Romeo F1 has made a significant appointment by bringing in James Key as its new technical director. Key, who recently departed from McLaren, will assume his new role on 1st September 2023, taking over from Jan Monchaux. The move is seen as a crucial step for the team as they prepare for the Audi transition under Sauber Motorsport CEO, Andreas Seidl.
Key has a strong background in Formula 1 and has previously worked with Sauber. He served as the technical director for the team from 2010 to 2012 during the post-BMW period before moving on to Toro Rosso. Key's tenure at Sauber saw him oversee the development of the C31, the car that achieved four podium finishes in 2012 with drivers Sergio Pérez and Kamui Kobayashi.
Having worked with Seidl at McLaren between 2019 and 2022, Key has already established a rapport with the Sauber Motorsport CEO. Seidl expressed his excitement about Key's appointment and believes that Key's extensive experience within the sport, not just as a technical director but also in various other technical roles, makes him the ideal candidate to lead the transformation process of the team. The appointment comes as Sauber is preparing for its transition into the Audi era, with the German manufacturer set to join Formula 1 in 2026.
Seidl said: “I am delighted to welcome James back home to Hinwil as he joins us to shape the future of this team.
“The operation he will find has changed a lot since his time here, but the same drive, the same commitment that contributed to making the team successful in his previous experience, are still the same.
“I am sure that, together with this very talented and committed team, we will be able to continue on the path of growth on which we have embarked.
“James’s appointment is a crucial step on this journey. He has an outstanding amount of experience in the sport, not just as technical director, but also in various other roles within the technical organisation of a team.
“He will lead the transformation process of the technical side of the team, giving us the tools and direction we need to tackle the future.
“I also want to thank Jan for his precious contribution to taking Sauber to where it is now, following our most successful season in a decade, in which we climbed to sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship.”
Key acknowledged the challenges that lie ahead as Sauber evolves into Audi and expressed his eagerness to work with the team. He said: “I am looking forward to leading the technical side of the team at one of the most critical junctures of its long history as we head towards a new and exciting future.
“There is a huge amount of work ahead of us, but I am confident that every single member of our team working in Hinwil will have the commitment, determination, and hunger to get us to the top.
“We know it will require time, effort, and perseverance, and the dividends from this work will only arrive over the next two seasons and beyond, but we have a journey ahead of us and a roadmap to follow which I am eager to get started.”
He added: “I am grateful to Andreas for the confidence he has placed in me and look forward to repaying his trust and working closely with him on the challenges and ambitions ahead.”
The departure of Jan Monchaux, who will be replaced by Key, marks the end of his tenure with the team. Monchaux has already been placed on gardening leave ahead of his official departure from Alfa Romeo F1.