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McLaren: This is how Seidl switched to Audi-Sauber

Andreas Seidl leaves, McLaren regulates the succession internally. Operations manager Andrea Stella is promoted to team boss. McLaren boss Zak Brown explains when Seidl's departure started and why everything ended up going faster than expected.

Four out of ten teams changed the team boss within 24 hours or arranged the successor. Williams was the first. On Monday evening (12/12/2022) the end for CEO and race director Jost Capito was announced. A day later, Ferrari, Alfa-Romeo-Sauber and McLaren followed suit. Every Tuesday morning. One domino dropped the next.

The change from Frederic Vasseur to Ferrari had already become apparent in the last few weeks. Not that Andreas Seidl will be his successor at Sauber. The Bavarian seemed firmly rooted in McLaren. However, Seidl decided to join the future project of Sauber-Audi and to do development work in Hinwil over the next few years until the premium manufacturer enters Formula 1 in 2026. Seidl initially acts as CEO. Sauber is still looking for a team boss.

Ferrari gets things rolling

It happened like so often in racing. At high speed. If one stone shifts, the next ones start to slide. McLaren had known for a long time about the change intentions of its outgoing race manager. Seidl informed the company management around Managing Director Zak Brown during the past season. When exactly, the American does not want to say. "Sometime after the first race and before the last race," jokes Brown.

Until Mattia Binotto left Ferrari, however, everything indicated that Seidl would fulfill his contract with McLaren. "He informed us that he would definitely leave by the end of 2025. We would have had no problem continuing to work together until then. Andreas has outstanding work discipline." One could imagine where the Passau would end up. Into the new Audi factory team.

By the end of 2025 you would have seen whether McLaren's master plan would actually work. By 2025 at the latest, the traditional racing team from Woking, which has recorded 183 victories in history, wants to compete for GP successes again. A schedule that had to be adjusted and pushed back again and again due to crises in the world. But the announced withdrawal of Binotto and Ferrari's offer for Vasseur got the ball rolling again.

Stella clears the way for Seidl

Actually, the McLaren plan was not to announce a change at the top of the team for 2023 in December, but only for 2026. However, an avalanche developed from a snowball. "Finn Rausing got in touch with me to ask if we could give Andreas the go ahead of time," says Brown. "I've known Finn for a decade and we get along really well." Finn Rausing is the owner of the Swiss racing team.A premature change was also in Seidl's interest. This gives him time to build and strengthen the team until Audi joins in 2026. Sauber needs staff to get up to the level of the top teams and, above all, needs to invest in production.

Engineers are not hired overnight. And you don't improve the infrastructure overnight. That takes time, as Seidl recently found out at McLaren. There they are still waiting for the new wind tunnel and driving simulator. The decision to let Seidl out of contract early depended on McLaren finding a successor.

The choice fell on Operations Manager Andrea Stella, who was hesitant in the first talks about being set up as his successor. At that time against the background that Seidl informed his team about the planned departure in 2025. After much deliberation, the Italian agreed and accepted the promotion. Stella is not one to be in the spotlight, but rather one who prefers to work behind the scenes. As the team leader, he is in the front row. "I needed to be clear about that. I'm up for the challenge and I'll get used to my new role."

Stella is rising

The successor comes from our own ranks. McLaren does not put obstacles in the way of its outgoing race director. Transparency was key. "We have a great relationship. I know that many people play the ban card when staff say goodbye. But if you get along well, you can negotiate terms that are acceptable to everyone," says Brown. It is well known that in life you always meet twice.

Seidl's departure leaves a gap that Stella has to fill. McLaren sees itself in a good enough position so that its own project does not falter, but stays on course. "We had 850 employees before, and now we have 849," says Brown. "We have enough talent in the team to stop Andreas leaving. It's an opportunity for some to take on more responsibility."

First and foremost for Stella who was McLaren's first choice. Brown: "Arranging the successor internally is the better solution. It quickly became clear to us that we wanted Andrea in this position. Getting someone from outside means a longer integration process." Stella has been part of the team since 2015. First as "Head of Operations". In 2018 he was promoted to Performance Director and since December 2019 he has held the position of Executive Director. The next step in his career takes him to the position of team manager.

McLaren's new leadership duo

Stella's Formula 1 career began at Ferrari. He worked at the Scuderia for 15 years - and worked there with Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, whom he followed to McLaren in 2015. Stella has served under team bosses such as Jean Todt, Stefano Domenicali and Andreas Seidl. He learned from everyone.

"What stood out most about Jean was his dedication to the team and his job. He instilled in me what it means to put your heart and soul into something. Stefano taught me the human side. He treats everyone with respect and listens. Andreas brought his experience as an engineer to bear. An example of this is how we have improved in the pit stops. He was a great driving force there," explains the new McLaren team boss.

His most important task will be to bring McLaren closer to the top teams. For this, the infrastructure projects must be completed and the full benefit of the new wind tunnel and simulator must be taken. McLaren will also need fresh staff. "We have to strengthen certain areas of the team. First and foremost the aerodynamics department. We need a larger workforce there." Stella will run the day-to-day operations of the racing department - at the factory and at the track. He will build on what he has already created together with Seidl and Technical Director James key.

Zak Brown wants to support him wherever needed. "Other than that I will continue to do what I do best. Take care of the commercial activities and marketing. I want to bring the best people to McLaren and give them the conditions to bring out the best in themselves." Stella is convinced: "Zak and I will complement each other very well."


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