Former Ferrari engineer Rob Smedley has warned McLaren could find themselves “dead in the water” with their new Formula 1 technical structure. The team announced in March that Technical Director James Key had left the team, with his role being split into a three-headed structure of technical directors headed by Peter Prodromou, Neil Houldley and incoming signing David Sanchez from Ferrari, although he is on gardening leave until January 2024. It is reminiscent of the old McLaren structure, that was abandoned by CEO Zak Brown, and ex-Ferrari and Williams engineer Smedley believes it comes with risks for the team as they seek to claw their way into the big four. Smedley’s McLaren warning Each of Prodromou, Houldley and Sanchez will head up their own section of the technical department, and while Smedley doesn’t feel the lack of an ultimate technical director is too much of a problem, he does feel things could go wrong if the trio don’t collaborate well. “There’s clear demarcation as to the areas where they’re going to be making decisions,” Smedley explained on the F1 Nation podcast. “What you’ve got is [Team Principal] Andrea [Stella] whose job now is to make sure that all three of them are collaborating well together, and that you don’t get into a situation where one of them or two of them are looking at the other and thinking: ‘That’s a bit of a weak link.’ “‘We’re probably going to have to override some of the decisions’ and once you get into that, then you’re dead in the water. “You need all three to be operating at a very high level, a high functioning team who rely on each other so that you get this synergetic effect – and that’s what brings you a good car.” Teams too big now Smedley also observed how the role of technical director is changing, given the fact that the teams have grown in numbers. “The single technical director [role], the teams are too big now,” he said. “They’re just way too big, the technical organisation, the levels of detail and a technical director within a Formula 1 team is still operational. “It’s not somebody who is navigating where the chips are going to be sewn in the next 10 years or what technology you’re going to bring in – that’s what we’d call the Chief Technical Officer.”

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