Andreas Seidl is to step down as McLaren team principal to lead Audi’s fledgling Formula 1 program with the Alfa Romeo/Sauber team.
The 46-year-old German will be replaced at McLaren by Italian Andrea Stella, executive racing director since 2019.
McLaren Racing managing director Zak Brown described Stella as “very talented, experienced and respected”.
Stella begins her role with immediate effect. Seidl will join Sauber in January.
Seidl’s role as chief executive will be to gradually improve the performance of the team so that Audi can debut in as competitive form as possible when its entry coincides with new F1 engine regulations.
Industry sources say he will oversee the entire Audi F1 programme, both car and engine, and eventually appoint a team principal to manage day-to-day operations and report to him. The current Alfa Romeo/Sauber team principal Frédéric Vasseur moves to Ferrari.
Seidl had also been approached by Ferrari as a potential replacement for Mattia Binotto, but insiders would have preferred a position at Audi.
Seidl’s move sees him return to a prominent motorsport role with the Volkswagen Group – he was at the helm of Porsche’s successful endurance racing program before joining McLaren.
He was also an engineer with the Sauber team when it belonged to BMW between 2006 and 2009.
Seidl said: “This is a team with a rich history in Formula 1 and an organization that I know very well having worked and lived in Hinwil for four years.
Lando Norriswho joined McLaren in 2019, tweeted that working with Seidl had been “awesome” and added: “I’ve never seen our team as strong as they are now and part of that is down to the work you have accomplished.”
Audi announced in October that it would take over Sauber for its F1 debut in 2026.
In 2023, the Swiss-based team will play its final year under the name of the Alfa Romeo brand, which has been supporting it financially since 2018.
The team will continue to race as Sauber in 2024 and 2025, with Ferrari engines, as it prepares for Audi’s official entry.
From 2015 to 2017, Seidl led Porsche to three consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans victories and the World Endurance Championship drivers’ and constructors’ titles, before joining McLaren after Porsche halted the program.
He has been instrumental in McLaren’s revival since its all-time low at the end of 2018, when he finished the season with the slowest car on the grid.
Since then McLaren have established themselves as a top team behind the big three, won their first race since 2012 at the Italian Grand Prix in 2021 and expects to make further progress after entering service. a new wind tunnel in the middle of the next year.
His departure will be seen as a blow to McLaren as he made a strong impression in F1, but Brown is confident Stella will be a capable replacement.
Brown said Seidl informed him earlier this year of his intention to leave McLaren for another team when his contract ended at the end of 2025, and that the original intention had been to carry on as things were until -the.
But when Vasseur’s move to Ferrari became clear, Sauber owner Finn Rausing contacted him and they reached an agreement to resolve the move immediately.
Brown said: “Andrea is a very talented, experienced and respected member of our team with a strong track record of leadership and success in Formula 1.”
Stella will lead McLaren’s technical and operational program and he will take charge of the team after a long career as an engineering leader in F1.
He was at Ferrari from 2000 to 2014 as a race engineer, working with Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and then Fernando Alonso.
When Alonso left Ferrari for McLaren at the end of 2014, Stella decided to join him, first as Head of Race Operations, then Performance Director in 2018 and Race Director in 2019.
Since 2019, he has been one of three team leaders under Seidl, along with Technical Director James Key and Production Director Piers Thynne.
Stella said he felt “privileged” in his new position, adding that he would be a “hands-on team leader”.
Stella is a shy character and admitted on Tuesday that he had been “reluctant” so far to put himself in the spotlight and take on public-facing commitments and that he needed to think about that aspect of the role before taking on the role. accept.
“I focused on my job,” he said. “That was my goal. So it had to be thought about a bit, but it’s also about preparing, getting familiar and being honest.”