McLaren will consider offering Toro Rosso compensation in order to get technical director James Key to join the team earlier than his contract allows.
Key was announced as McLaren’s incoming technical director at the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, but Toro Rosso responded with team principal Franz Tost saying: “James Key has a long-term valid contract with the team. The contents of the contract are confidential, therefore we won’t comment on any of the details.”
Brown said McLaren is willing to wait until Key is free to join the team, and acknowledged Toro Rosso’s reluctance to release him early.
“We have hired James Key, he will become our technical director,” Brown said. “We do not yet have a start date. He does have a current agreement with Toro Rosso which of course, we respect contractual situations.
“I think Toro Rosso and Red Bull are understandably upset that they’re losing a great talent like James Key. He’s recognized as one of the best technical directors up and down the pit lane. We’re very excited to have him join us in due course.”
While RACER understands a loan deal for Lando Norris to Toro Rosso is considered unlikely because Red Bull would want Norris for longer than one season, Brown insists a plan is in place to speed up Key’s arrival.
“There’s always, in the world of Formula 1, ways and opportunities to change situations,” he said. “That’s certainly something that we’d potentially consider, but we have a plan. We obviously knew his current employment situation and are completely comfortable working around that situation. So as we’ve stated before, we’ve done some restructuring. We’ve done some hiring. We’re not done yet, so we’re just head down, operating according to the internal plan that we have.”
Asked how Key’s arrival will change the technical department structure, Brown replied: “I’m not going to share that.
“Working very closely with Gil [de Ferran] and Andrea [Stella] and Simon [Roberts], obviously we’ve made the hire of James, we’re not done yet, both with bringing in talent and with our final structure. We have a good sense of what we’re going to do, but that’s not something we want to make public. We want to get on with the job.”