The McLaren Formula 1 team originally planned for Andreas Seidl to remain in his role as team principal until the end of 2025 prior to his departure for Sauber, until Mattia Binotto’s resignation as Ferrari team principal accelerated the process.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown says that Seidl informed him during the 2022 season of the intention to leave McLaren at the end of his current contract in 2025 to take up the role of Sauber Group CEO for its transformation into Audi’s new F1 team. But as announced this morning, this is now happening at the start of next year.
Binotto’s departure as Ferrari team principal, with Frederic Vasseur leaving Sauber to replace him, accelerated the process. Following talks with Sauber Holdings chairman Finn Rausing, McLaren allowed Seidl to make the move early.
Although Brown didn’t comment on the specifics of the deal, he referred to “workable terms” suggesting a financial settlement was part of the agreement that allowed Seidl to leave McLaren three years early.
Stella was always the first choice to succeed Seidl, with the intention initially to give him the team principal role for 2026 in a move that was also brought forward once an agreement was reached with Sauber.
“Andreas, who did an excellent job here at McLaren for the last handful of seasons, 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,” said Brown.
“[It was] probably pretty clear where that destination would be, which was quite understandable given his background [Seidl was formerly motorsport chief for Audi stablemate Porsche and also previously worked at Sauber].
“So at that time, we intended to continue for the foreseeable future because the relationship is very, very healthy and his work discipline is very strong.
“What we were going to do at that point was at the end of the season let the world know that that change would come at the end of the ’25 season. And after, we intended to go public the first person I was going to call to see if they will lead McLaren’s Formula 1 team is Andrea – but not at that point being sure whether that would be something that he would consider.
“In the fast-pace of the Formula 1 environment, when it became clear that Fred was going to go to Ferrari, Finn Rausing is someone that I’ve known for a decade and get along with very well [and he] gave me a call to see if there was a discussion to be had to potentially release Andreas early.
“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.
“So I went about having a conversation within Andrea pre him having any awareness that Andreas was going to move on for the ’26 season.
“After some good conversations, Andrea kindly accepted the role, which then put us in a very comfortable position to move forward because Andrea was always our number one choice to lead the team moving forward. So that all came together quite rapidly.”
Brown would not be drawn on the exact timing of Seidl informing him of the intention to leave at the end of 2025, but did confirm it was during the 2022 campaign.
He said that gardening leave was not necessary because of the terms that were agreed with Sauber.
“He informed me after the first race of the year and before the last race. So I don’t want to get into, in all seriousness, timing windows, but [there was]sufficient time. And the initial intention was to continue businesses as usual.
“As far gardening leave [is concerned] we have a great relationship. I know a lot of teams play the gardening leave card, but I think as we’ve demonstrated at McLaren, there are ways to dissolve relationships, whether that’s with racing drivers or employees, where you can do things on very workable terms for everyone.”
Brown added that he’s excited about Stella’s appointment as team principal, with the fact he has a hands-on role with the race team part of the appeal.
“Here we are with Andrea now as our team principal, which myself, our drivers, our team is extremely excited about,” said Brown.
“Andrea obviously has a wealth of experience, not only with McLaren but a rich history with Ferrari.
“So it was someone that we knew knew the team inside out, is a very hands-on person in the racing team. It was of high interest to me and the shareholders was to have someone leading the team that gets their hands dirty, so to speak.”