McLaren has confirmed the acquisition of James Key as technical director from Toro Rosso, with Matt Morris leaving the team as part of its ongoing technical restructuring.
Key will join after six years at Toro Rosso, having joined the Red Bull junior team following two years as technical director at Sauber. The 46-year-old is effectively a replacement for Tim Goss, who left his role as chief technical officer at McLaren in April following a poor start to the season.
When announcing Eric Boullier’s departure as racing director earlier this month, McLaren made further changes to its technical structure and Key is the latest move to strengthen that department.
A start date has yet to be agreed, which suggests there could be a link between Key’s gardening leave and a potential drive for Lando Norris at Toro Rosso. Engineers often have extensive gardening leave periods built into their contracts, but those can be greatly reduced if their former team is compensated in some way.
The McLaren reserve driver was linked with a mid-season move last month, but McLaren rejected the idea at the time. While a switch this season cannot be ruled out, it is more likely that Norris would step up to F1 next year, with Carlos Sainz being linked with a move to Woking if Stoffel Vandoorne is replaced.
McLaren has also announced that engineering director Morris will leave after five years with the team. While the two moves are separate, Morris — who has resigned from his role — does not yet have a confirmed departure date.
The technical restructuring is taking place with McLaren seventh in the constructors’ championship, 32 points adrift of Renault in fourth but 28 points clear of eighth-placed Toro Rosso.