Huge design changes revealed as James Key brings McLaren influence to Stake

Michelle Foster
A rear view of the Kick Sauber C44, launched by Stake F1.

A rear view of the Kick Sauber C44, launched by Stake F1.

Taking the covers off the C44 challenger on Monday, Stake F1 revealed a completely new car, one that adopts the front pull-rod suspension layout favoured by McLaren and Red Bull.

Last season Stake F1, running under the Alfa Romeo brand, finished a disappointing ninth in the championship, only avoiding the wooden spoon by four points.

In a lacklustre season, the team claimed seven points-scoring results in 44 combined starts and vowed to overhaul the car ahead of the 2024 season, F1’s third campaign with the ground-effect aerodynamic regulations.

C44 features a ‘new’ front suspension layout and ‘many’ aerodynamic changes

That’s exactly what they’ve done under the leadership of new technical boss James Key, formerly of McLaren.

It’s no wonder then the new C44 adopts the suspension layout favoured by his former team McLaren, as well as Red Bull.

Sporting a front pull-rod suspension arrangement as opposed to last year’s push-rod system, the C44 also features a new-look roll hoop and airbox arrangement.

“It is virtually a completely new car, with a few carry-over areas at the rear of the car,” Key told the media, including

“The team had to take an ambitious direction well before I joined. There are many mechanical changes, some of which you can’t see at all, but some are very visible.

“The front suspension is completely new, a tough and ambitious project for a team of our size, there are many aerodynamic changes, of course, as would be expected given that this remains the primary area of development – so, overall, the car will really look quite different to last year’s car.

“We took a lot of new, exciting directions, all of which appear to hold quite a bit of potential, so we’re looking forward to seeing them on track.” recommends

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James Key reveals ‘pretty prolific solution’ to the C44’s floor

With the new C44 featuring mechanical changes not visible to the naked eye, Key revealed there’s also been a big change when it comes to the car’s floor.

He billed that as a “pretty prolific solution”.

“Underneath the car,” he said, “the floor is where the majority of downforce is generated.

“We have quite a different approach, a new concept, in that area, and it seems to be a pretty prolific solution at the moment. All of those things are new, there is a lot more under the skin.”

Speaking of the “extreme” steps taken, the technical director is hopeful that the C44 is a step forward.

“It is quite an important project to try and get the balance right, but the team has done a fantastic job with a very difficult project to produce something that should function as planned,” he said.

“Of course, aerodynamics dominates, so a lot of the external things that you’ll see are for the purposes of generating more efficient downforce. The bodywork is a massive battleground in these cars, much more so than in the previous generation.

“We can see trends developing there, and the direction we have taken is a lot more extreme than what we did last year.

“It’s a new departure for the team as well, but more in line with where these trends appear to be going, and possibly a further step forward – I’m sure some of our competitors have done similar things, which will be interesting to see.”

Read next: Gallery: A closer look at the striking Stake F1 C44 after its London launch