Pat Fry has returned to McLaren in the role of engineering director, eight years after he left the team for Ferrari.
Starting his F1 career with Benetton, Fry worked for McLaren from 1993 until 2010, rising to the role of chief engineer before joining Ferrari. Four years at Maranello saw Fry become director of engineering, before he left the team in 2014. He then worked with Manor as an engineering consultant before the team closed at the end of the 2016 season
As RACER reported during the Italian Grand Prix weekend, Fry had been in talks with McLaren over a possible return to Woking and he has now been appointed engineering director. McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown confirmed the news on Tuesday after announcing Fry’s return to the team at the McLaren Technology Centre earlier in the day.
The arrival of Fry continues a major overhaul of McLaren’s technical department after a poor 2018 season to date, with the Renault-powered MCL33 having picked up just 12 points in the past nine races.
Toro Rosso technical director James Key has already been signed to join the team in the same role but a start date has yet to be agreed for the highly-rated Englishman, and Brown also confirmed on Tuesday that McLaren will have to wait until next year at the earliest for Key to join.
“I think we’re in a pretty good place now,” Brown said. “We still need to kind of populate — i.e. James [Key’s] start — but Andrea Stella is leading all performance, setting the targets, and it’s for Pat as engineering director to execute, so it will ultimately be led by Andrea with Pat, the development of next year’s car.
“And then of course there’s lots of people that feed into that. Pete Prodromou from an aero, Mark Ingham and Neil Oatley from design, Simon Roberts the COO ultimately responsible for bringing everything together and Gil [de Ferran] on the sporting side but at the end of the day it’s Andrea and Pat who are going to drive next year’s car.”
Former racing director Eric Boullier and chief technical officer Tim Goss have already left McLaren as part of the changes this season, with chief engineer Matt Morris also being confirmed as departing at the same time Key’s acquisition was announced.