In Formula 1 more than elsewhere, the transfer ads are never simpler. Here, we could have a transfer to several bands. Not for a driver officially, but for James Key.
James Key, 46, is a British engineer who started his F1 career as a data engineer. In 1998, he joined the small Jordan Grand Prix team. In this stable, he climbs the ladder, becoming the aero leader and downright the Technical Director just before Jordan is sold to Midland, then to Spyker, and finally to Vijay Mallya who founded Force India.
After a transition period at Sauber, he landed in 2012 at Toro Rosso in Faenza. Since then, he is Technical Director of Red Bull’s team. This morning, McLaren announced “McLaren is pleased to confirm that James Key will join the team as Technical Director” . He replaces Eric Boullier.
Except that Franz Tost does not hear it that way. Toro Rosso has a “multi-year” contract with James Key. Obviously in F1, everything can be arranged between team. Striking and stumbling compensation to buy the contract, negotiation on the time of “setting in cupboard” (to avoid leakage of technologies), etc.
But here it’s Toro Rosso, Red Bull. Money is not really a problem. On the other hand, Red Bull has a concern for young drivers. If Pierre Gasly gives satisfaction, Brendon Hartley, already thrown a first time by Red Bull, could be a second time, quickly. In addition, Carlos Sainz does not seem to want to go back to Toro Rosso. He is targeting Red Bull or nothing in the industry.
McLaren herself, has a promising youngster. Lando Norris. From here to think that Toro Rosso / Red Bull is trying to negotiate James Key against Lando Norris, there is only one step that many go through. And that would also arrange the passage of Sainz at McLaren alongside Alonso.
This year, transfers to the “big” are blocked and nobody moves . On the other hand we could have a record of transfers for the other stables.