Ex-F1 driver suggests backstage McLaren influence from Red Bull ‘asset’

Jamie Woodhouse
Lando Norris racing in the Mexico City Grand Prix.

Lando Norris in action for McLaren.

Despite officially joining McLaren at the turn of the year, former Red Bull stalwart Rob Marshall was already guiding McLaren behind-the-scenes in F1 2023 – in the opinion of ex-F1 driver Christijan Albers.

Considering Red Bull’s all-conquering dominance in Formula 1’s era of ground effect aerodynamics, it is of little surprise that the Austrian team has become a key shopping destination for rivals looking to reach their level.

Aero chief Dan Fallows was one high-profile example, as he joined Aston Martin to become technical director, while Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said McLaren had pinched an “asset” in their successful mission to lure away chief engineer Rob Marshall.

Rob Marshall a key acquisition for McLaren

Marshall arrives at a strong base in McLaren, the team having surged up the order in F1 2023 after an impactful string of upgrades for the MCL60, which made it the closest rival to Red Bull’s RB19 at times.

Marshall’s period of gardening leave delayed his switch from Red Bull to McLaren, but Albers is not having any of the idea that Marshall is only now creating his influence at McLaren, using Fallows as an example considering Aston Martin’s general decline in performance through F1 2023 despite his newfound presence.

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Writing in his De Telegraaf column, Albers stated: “Dan Fallows, the technical director of Aston Martin, comes from Red Bull. But then you also think that he didn’t have such a hugely important role in that team.

“Otherwise, the further development of Aston Martin’s car would have been better. Now it was especially less. With McLaren, the opposite was the case. They started the season dramatically. After their first upgrades, things have gone a lot better.

“That may have been the influence of technical man James Key who left in March, but it could also be a result of bringing in Rob Marshall from Red Bull.

“Okay, he doesn’t officially start at McLaren until January 1. But you are not going to tell me that no conversations have been held yet and of course he has a lot of information in his head. He probably won’t have kept all that to himself…

“And that’s what you gain time with as a team, also with regard to the development for the car of 2024.

“From the races in Austria and Silverstone, McLaren has performed really well. Especially in the fast corners they are very strong.”

McLaren scored nine podiums across F1 2023, plus sprint victory in Qatar as they set their sights on taking the fight to Red Bull in F1 2024, having not tasted title success since Lewis Hamilton’s maiden World Championship crown in 2008.

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