Andreas Seidl has shared details of the changes made at McLaren behind the scenes for the F1 team to prosper.
After years of troubles for McLaren, it seems like they are on the right path now as they sit fourth in the F1 constructors’ championship, a good 39 points ahead of their nearest rivals Toro Rosso after 12 races.
Following their decision to end terms with Honda and joining hands with Renault in 2018, it did look slightly shaky but with a new line-up of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris has rejuvenated the team.
It is not just the front-end changes but also behind the scenes with the hiring of Seidl and James Key has played a key role, as Zak Brown and Gil de Ferran moved back to the work they were supposed to do.
Seidl did not join the team from the start of the season but he was looking at things from the outside to understand the changes he could bring once he starts the job full-time, which he explains the mid-season talk.
“My focus was on getting to know the team, understanding how the team is working, and finding out where both the strengths and weaknesses lie within the team,” said Seidl to McLaren’s website.
“I’ve held open sessions with every department within the team to really understand and get to know what every area of the team does, who every single member is and also give everyone the opportunity to get to know me.
“I explained my motorsport background and encouraged everyone to really open up and talk about their life at McLaren. It’s been a very intense period of getting under the skin of the team, but it’s been very important for me and helped me a lot to settle in.
“There are obviously a lot of good things in place [at McLaren], but at the same time there are areas which we need to address now step-by-step. We need to improve, for example, our tools and methodologies, optimise production, work on digital transformation, how we modernise ourselves and the way we work and collaborate together.
“What was clear to me from the very beginning is that we have a great team of very talented people with a lot of passion for what they are doing. We have a good mix of long-serving people with great experience, people who have also seen other motorsport series or organisations before joining McLaren, and we have extremely passionate and highly-qualified young people who are all excited for the future.
“So it’s important now to bring all the different experiences together, to focus on maximising our potential, and define together our McLaren way moving forward. There have been some obvious areas that we were able to address straight away, such as the new wind tunnel.
“That was one of the first projects we initiated, and it’s a good signal to the team and to our competitors, because it shows we’re serious about our mission, which is to get back to the top.
“It’s key now to work out a clear plan, set firm priorities and deliver. It’s obvious that we’re aiming for high targets, but at the same time it’s important to be realistic and stick to our plan.”
Talking about the structure of the team currently, Seidl said he likes the old-fashioned motorsport structure, which is based on three divisions. At the moment, McLaren has James Key as Technical Director.
The production department is led by Piers Thynne as Production Director, while the racing side is under the responsibility of Andrea Stella as Performance Director and Paul James as Team Manager.
Seidl added that is happy with how the team members are understanding their roles, while outlining the key aspects of it. “I like to have maximum transparency, clarity and good communication,” he said. “I’m not a fan of micro-management.
“We need to empower our people, make them feel accountable and encourage them to take risks, so they can perform at their best. This is the freedom I always experienced in my career so far, and that’s exactly how I manage my leadership team and what I also expect from them. In this sport we need to push the limits.
“We need to be prepared to make and learn from mistakes so that we continue to grow and extract more performance. We have a fantastic and passionate team who are motivated by racing and making our cars go faster. Our people are our biggest asset.
“It’s my job now to gain trust from everyone inside the team and lead the team into the future. I have full support from Zak and our shareholders to do that and I’m absolutely convinced that we’ll have everything in place in the future in order to make our way back up the grid again.”