Another McLaren figure confirms shock exit on eve of Japanese Grand Prix

Jamie Woodhouse
Former McLaren driver development programme boss Emanuele Pirro in the paddock at Monza

Former McLaren driver development programme boss Emanuele Pirro

Following the surprise reveal that David Sanchez had left McLaren just three months after joining, another recent recruit in the form of driver programme boss Emanuele Pirro has confirmed his departure.

As part of changes to the senior technical team at McLaren, it was confirmed that Sanchez, who had only begun work as McLaren’s technical director of car concept and performance in January – after the expiry of his post-Ferrari gardening leave period – had left the team. Now, Pirro is out the door too.

Emanuele Pirro ready for ‘new challenges’ outside of McLaren

Pirro had not been with McLaren long either, the ex-F1 racer and five-time Le Mans victor having joined in April of last year to oversee McLaren’s driver development programme, which has since undergone a major restructure with various young racers added to the fold.

But, “after a year of hard work and satisfaction”, Pirro’s time with McLaren is over. recommends

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In an Instagram post confirming the news, Pirro wrote: “After a year of hard work and satisfaction, I will be leaving the McLaren driver development programme.

“Together with the Formula 1 team, I was able to put in place a structure to help develop young, talented, and hard-working drivers into future McLaren champions.

“To the best of my ability, I carried out this task, scouting and signing young stars which I truly feel can carve their names into the history books.

“I trust the internal resources who will run the DDP will continue on my path and help the programme grow, giving the type of unique support developing drivers need alongside the professionalism and experience of the great teams they are all representing.

“I have done my best in transmitting the lessons learned and the mistakes made over a life in motorsport and now I step aside and let the programme walk on its own legs, grateful for the opportunity that has been given to me.

“I wish all the best to Gabriel [Bortoleto], Ugo [Ugochukwu], Bianca [Bustamante], Pato [O’Ward], Ryo [Hirakawa] and Brando [Badoer], along with the future drivers with whom a collaboration has already begun. With all of you and your competitors, the future of the sport I have grown to love so much is in safe hands. I am now ready for new challenges…”

As part of the McLaren changes announced alongside Sanchez’s exit, it was confirmed that former Red Bull stalwart Rob Marshall, who also joined in January, had moved to the role of chief designer, as Neil Houldey becomes technical director – engineering.

Peter Prodromou continues as technical director – aerodynamics, while team principal Andrea Stella has taken on the reworked technical director – performance role on an interim basis while McLaren search for a permanent appointment.

Read next – Explained: What McLaren’s cold press release reveals after surprise big-name exit