Revealed: How McLaren managed to land huge signing from Red Bull

Thomas Maher
New McLaren signing Rob Marshall on the podium for Red Bull. Australia, April 2023.

Rob Marshall on the podium for Red Bull. Australia, April 2023.

Zak Brown had to call upon a staff member’s phone book to reach out to Red Bull engineer Rob Marshall.

Rob Marshall will join McLaren as Technical Director for Engineering and Design from the start of 2024 – completing a triumvirate of staff who will make up the Woking-based team’s technical leads.

It’s a big signing for McLaren, having successfully tempted Marshall away from his role as chief engineering officer at Red Bull Racing. He’d been with the Milton Keynes-based team for almost the entirely of their involvement in F1, having first joined them in 2006.

Before that, Marshall had worked with Renault and Benetton. His close working relationship with Adrian Newey over the past 17 years made him a particularly attractive prospect for McLaren, with Zak Brown revealing he played a major role in helping secure his signature along with team boss Andrea Stella.

“In that instance, I got very heavily involved,” Brown told Sky F1, when asked about how the signing of Marshall had come about. Questioned on how he had gotten the contact details for the engineer, he said: “Someone on our team had it, so I put in a call!”

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With Marshall enjoying plenty of success with Red Bull over the years, and the RB19 proving the class of the field in 2023, Brown said the fact McLaren managed to convince him to move across to their team shows he is convinced of their upward trajectory.

“In that particular instance, I think anytime you’re recruiting someone who’s very senior, they need to understand the direction of travel to get excited, because Red Bull is a fantastic team,” he said.

“So, for him to leave there, after so much success, I think that shows the excitement that he believes that we’ve got coming here at McLaren.

“I think his results speak for themselves. Adrian Newey has nothing but great things to say about Rob and we all know Adrian knows what he’s doing. So he gave him a good endorsement.”

Marshall will join Pedro Prodromou and David Sanchez as a technical director at McLaren, with Prodromou overseeing aerodynamics and Sanchez in charge of car concept and performance. Sanchez and Marshall both have to wait a while before taking up their roles at McLaren, with Sanchez on gardening leave from Ferrari – Marshall is set to follow suit before his January 1st arrival at Woking.