Ex-McLaren engineer joins Alfa Romeo

James Key's appointment signifies a strategic move by Alfa Romeo, as they look towards their future on the grid ahead of the transition to Audi by 2026.

James Key, a seasoned veteran in Formula 1, has made a significant career move by returning to the Sauber group as the Technical Director of Alfa Romeo. 

Having previously worked for teams like Jordan, Sauber, Toro Rosso, and McLaren, Key’s return to his former team marks a milestone in his journey. 

Additionally, Key will also play a role in the Audi works team, adding another dimension to his responsibilities.

The announcement of Key’s appointment, set to commence on 1st September, was described by Alfa Romeo as a “statement of intent” for the team. 

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Announcing the move, the Sauber group outlined Key’s objectives for the partnership, along with insights from his former McLaren colleague, Andreas Seidl.

Key expressed his delight in returning to Hinwil and reuniting with old and new colleagues at Sauber. 

Reflecting on his previous tenure with the team, he spoke fondly of the memories he had made there. The technical aspect of the role also intrigued Key, who emphasizsd the importance of their collaboration with Audi for an exciting future.

“I am looking forward to leading the technical side of the team at one of the most critical junctures of its long history as we head towards a new and exciting future,” Key stated. 

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“There is a huge amount of work ahead of us, but I am confident that every single member of our team working in Hinwil will have the commitment, determination, and hunger to get us to the top.”

Andreas Seidl, CEO of the Sauber Group, discussed the transformative nature of Key’s appointment and its impact on their future plans for 2026. 

Seidl highlighted Key’s role in leading the team’s technical transformation, providing the necessary tools and direction to tackle upcoming challenges.

“He will lead the transformation process of the technical side of the team, giving us the tools and direction we need to tackle the future,” Seidl said.

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While Key’s arrival signifies a new chapter for Alfa Romeo, questions arise regarding the future of the current technical director, Jan Monchaux. 

Although Monchaux’s departure is expected to coincide with Key’s arrival, rumours suggest that he might leave earlier than anticipated.

Seidl expressed gratitude for Monchaux’s contributions to Sauber’s recent success, acknowledging their climb to sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship as their most prosperous season in a decade.