Team principal of McLaren, Andreas Seidl, is leaving Mclaren to move to Sauber, taking a high-profile role within the group. To sweeten the deal, it is said that McLaren might take on Audi power as part of the move.
The Swiss team will be bought by Audi, with the acquisition of 75 per cent of the shares on a three-year basis starting in 2023, and the German sports executive and engineer will play a role in the German giant’s entry into Formula 1 from 2026. It is said that Audi strongly wanted Seidl, after making moves to push Sauber into removing Frederic Vasseur (now former Team Principal and Group CEO of Sauber Alfa Romeo). The Frenchman was assessed as an unsuitable person to lead the important German project.
While Seidl rejected Ferrari’s offers to replace Mattia Binotto, Vasseur proposed himself to Elkann who then gave the Frenchman the job.
Seidl’s history with German manufacturers
Andreas Seidl began working in Formula 1 with BMW between 2000 and 2009, first with Williams, then moving to Sauber who had become the official BMW Sauber team.
Once the German giant retired from Formula 1, he made a short run in the DTM before moving to the WEC with Porsche, as director of race operations and then as team principal. He won the 2015, 2016 and 2017 editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In the very last year, Porsche announced its retirement from the category, entering the cheaper Formula E. Seidl stalled and accepted Mclaren’s call at the end of 2018.
A restructuring journey begins after the disastrous patnership with Honda that ended in 2017. Third position in the 2020 World Championship was the team’s best result in the last decade, not forgetting a return to winning a Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2021 with Daniel Ricciardo, at Monza.
With Seidl leaving McLaren, we are now at no fewer than three Team Principals who have left their posts in less than a month, considering the departure of Binotto from Ferrari and that of Jost Capito from Williams.
The latter is not expected to take Seidl’s place at Mclaren, instead opting for retirement. Rather, current senior McLaren man Andrea Stella will take over the team at Woking.
Audi power for McLaren?
Rumours have it that as part of the move to Sauber Audi, Seidl’s release from McLaren could mean an engine deal for McLaren once Audi enters the sport in 2026. Although unconfirmed, sources suggest this could be a deal on the table by McLaren which allowed Seidl to leave the Woking based team without the usual period of ‘gardening leave’. That is a static period of time between jobs so as to protect the intellectual property of the team losing a senior member of staff.
It is expected that Seidl will start at Sauber in January of next year.