McLaren appointed Andrea Stella as Formula One team principal on Tuesday in a move hastened by his predecessor Andreas Seidl joining Sauber as replacement for Ferrari-bound Frederic Vasseur.
Sauber run the Alfa Romeo team, which will become the factory Audi outfit in 2026.
The post-season management merry-go-round came after Mattia Binotto handed in his resignation as Ferrari team principal in November.
Stella worked with world champions Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso in 15 years at Ferrari under bosses Jean Todt and Stefano Domenicali before joining McLaren in 2019 at the same time as Seidl.
The Italian was promoted from an executive director role at McLaren and chief executive Zak Brown said Stella was first choice after Seidl told the team earlier in the year that he would not be extending his contract.
“Andreas in a very transparent manner informed me during the season that he was going to go elsewhere when his contract was up at the end of 2025,” Brown told reporters on a video call with Stella.
“Probably pretty clear where that destination would be, which was quite understandable given his background.”
Seidl was previously head of track operations at Sauber and was also principal of Porsche’s world endurance team that won the Le Mans 24 Hours three times between 2015-17.
Porsche and Audi are both Volkswagen-owned brands.
Brown said McLaren would have continued with Seidl to the end of his contract but events took a twist when it became clear Vasseur was going to Ferrari.
“[Sauber chairman] Finn Rausing, someone that I’ve known for a decade and get along with very well, gave me a call to see if there was a discussion to be had to potentially release Andreas early,” he said.
“My reaction was if Andrea would be happy to join as team principal, then I’d be very happy to make that change now which I think puts everyone in their permanent homes for the foreseeable future.”
Brown said the relationship between Seidl and the team meant ‘gardening leave’, a break between jobs to limit the flow of sensitive information, was not necessary.
Stella said his style would be hands-on, with Brown leaning in more when support was needed but otherwise focusing on the commercial side and sponsors.
“What I’m looking for from Andrea is total responsibility for the performance of the Formula One team,” Brown said, whose team finished fourth in 2021 but fifth behind Renault-owned Alpine last season.
He doubted there would be much change, describing the team as going from 850 people to 849 rather than the senior leadership shrinking from three to two.
“In terms of the race team, we are happy with the progress we have made recently,” Stella said. “So I think it’s important to retain continuity there in terms of the way we go racing trackside.
“I would certainly see my presence and my impact as being quite direct in relation to that.
“Factory-side we have senior leaders I will be able to rely on and I think some of them will step up a little bit such that we can cover all the tasks required to run the business.”
Change at Ferrari hastened Andreas Seidl’s McLaren exit