Andrea Stella talks about hiring Rob Marshall from Red Bull as Zak Brown adds his bit, while Christian Horner says why he let him go.

With the cost cap situation, it has become difficult for bigger F1 teams to retain personnel in their original job. They are having to switch them to different departments to justify their position and in some cases, it is leading to them taking an offer elsewhere.

This has, in fact, opened the road for such people to join other F1 teams at a larger role which they wouldn’t have done while at the bigger team. After Dan Fallows moved away from the shadows of Adrian Newey to Aston Martin, another has done the same.

While he was not directly under Newey but Marshall had been with Red Bull for 17 years before opting to move away. The opening at McLaren came at the right time and it involved the likes of Brown and Horner to discuss an early release.

Such discussions are common now after the topic of Laurent Mekies came to light with talk between Red Bull and Ferrari to crack a deal. In case of McLaren, both Horner and Brown could reach an agreement for Marshall to start working from January 2024 onward.

For McLaren, since the promotion of Stella, it seems like technical re-structure is mostly done. It involved Neil Oatley become the deputy to Marshall even though he was seemingly in line to be the head of the department since James Key’s departure.

Stella elaborates about the process and how things are to shape-up going forward, while Horner adds on the situation with the cost cap and how the agreement was reached with McLaren to release Marshall early from his Powertrains duty.

Taking in Marshall –

Stella: “So, Rob will join the team obviously with a unique level of experience, knowhow, in terms of engineering and design of Formula 1 cars. He has also been instrumental in creating such a strong technical department at Red Bull. So, at the moment, we are just very pleased and excited that Rob is keen to join our journey to take McLaren to the front of the grid. I think the technical structure is well-set now and quite strong, so I would take one day off.”

Process with Red Bull –

Stella: “I can say what I know. Certainly Rob was very keen to join McLaren. He understood perfectly our journey, our ambition. I think he understood that he could be a fundamental player in trying to make something important like bringing McLaren to the victory, so strong motivation from his side. I think at Red Bull they know very well the role that Rob played over time, and I think this invokes respect for people. From what I could judge from outside, I saw this level of respect from Red Bull to Rob which, observing, was good to see. And then when it came to the press release, that was obviously agreed between the teams, that’s why it was coordinated.”

Fitting in the budget cap –

Stella: “In terms of budget, Zak is doing a good job to put McLaren in condition to spend this money. And in terms of compliance, actually within the regulations, we had the possibility to spend this kind of budget, not only from an operational point of view, but also in terms of capital expenditures. So it didn’t create particular challenges, I would say. So it’s not been a difficult process.”

Reactions of Neil Oatley and his position –

Stella: “So Neil has always been a part of the process. He’s been in the conversation. He has actually played as a team player in this process. And when we told Neil that we had this opportunity, which was quite unmissable, we elaborated together the solution. There’s so much to do in terms of engineering and design to create the right standards to design the fastest car in Formula 1, that actually we thought this is a very powerful combination,  with Rob, the more of the technical authority and Neil running more of the day-to-day activities within the department. So definitely Neil was in the process, very constructive process.”

Involvement in hiring process –

Brown: “I got very heavily involved with the deal. Someone on our team had his phone number, so I put in a call. Any time you’re recruiting someone who is very senior, they need to understand the direction of travel to get excited. Red Bull are a fantastic team so for him to leave there after so much success, I think shows the excitement that he believes we’ve got coming here at McLaren. I think his results speak for themselves. Adrian Newey has nothing but great things to say about Rob, and we all know Adrian knows what he’s doing. He gave him a good endorsement.”

Letting Marshall go –

Horner: “Rob has been with us for 17 years and has been an instrumental player in the building of Red Bull Racing. He was able to accommodate things mechanically within the car like batteries inside the gearbox with the KERS car back in the 2009-2013 era. He played a significant role within the team but over recent years he moved onto other projects and hasn’t been on the mainstream of Formula 1. After 17 years he had an offer, a significant offer, from McLaren. While he still had a period of time left on his contract, he was keen to go back into F1, so we came go an agreement with him and negotiated a deal with Zak that worked for everybody. And so, we did a little thing for him at his last debrief. Usually when someone leaves a team we tell them to f**k off. With Rob it is a little bit different, he’s a good guy. He’s just going onto a new challenge. It’s a bit like Manchester United. If you look at their team, how it evolved over a period of time, Eric Cantona wasn’t still playing 17 years later.”

Tough to give up –

Horner: “Of course it does. You can’t carry anybody within the team, and I think that everybody has to warrant their place within the camp. Rob was focused on other projects in recent years, and the offer that McLaren made is probably half their cap (joke). So you can’t blame him for wanting to go and do that. He’s been working on Red Bull Powertrains off late but again his work was pretty much completing in the projects he was doing. So it felt right, McLaren had come to a commercial agreement with us that was reasonable for us to say ‘okay, we’ll let him join in January’.”

Budget cap scene –

Horner: “You have to make sure it’s not a race to the bottom. The problem is that you have long-standing personnel that have contributed a significant amount, that you don’t want to see forced out of their roles because of the cap. Just because you can justify 10 youngsters versus an experienced person, and that’s the constant bait that you have. We’ve had redundancies through the cap. Jayne Poole [with Mercedes now] was one of those as well. She was a redundancy that we made because we couldn’t justify the role within the cap.”

Here’s Christian Horner on Sergio Perez’s situation

Here’s latest on Laurent Mekies

Here’s Christian Horner meeting at 10 Downing Street

Here’s news on Rob Marshall joining McLaren