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Key exit forces reshuffle at Force India

24 February 2010

The Force India Formula One team has restructured its technical department ahead of the 2010 Formula One season following technical director James Key's decision to leave the team to pursue new opportunities.

Former design director Mark Smith will assume the role of technical director, with responsibility for the entire mechanical and aerodynamic design of the team's challengers.

Smith was one of the first Jordan employees, and progressed through the team's ranks to become joint chief designer after eleven years with the Silverstone-based operation. He then spent time at both Renault F1, as chief designer, and Red Bull Racing, where he eventually reached the heights of technical director, before rejoining many of his former colleagues at Force India in November 2007.

"We will now undergo a slight restructure where Mark will take responsibility for the whole design process and various departments within the drawing office and we are confident we will have both the resources and the personnel to continue our strong progress shown at the end of 2009," team principal Vijay Mallya commented.

"We would like to thank James for his commitment and drive over his twelve years with the team. Over this period, he has seen four changes of owners, but his consistency and drive have enabled the team to field cars that have often belied our small size. We wish him every success in his future endeavours."

Key joined Jordan Grand Prix as a data engineer in 1998, before progressing to test engineer and, later, senior race engineer for Takuma Sato. In 2003, he moved over to the aerodynamic group and was then promoted to head of vehicle science towards the end of the year. He became technical director in 2005, but believes that he has taken the team as far as he can.

"I have spent the majority of my motor racing career within the team and, although it was a difficult decision, I felt the time was right for me to move on to new opportunities," Key noted, "After four owners and various changes and challenges, to field a car that got a pole position and a podium seemed like a culmination of all the efforts.

"While I'm sad to leave a team I know so well, one which has allowed me to realise many ambitions within F1, I'm looking forward to a new start. The VJM03 is now up and running and early indications are good, I wish Force India all the very best for the next and coming seasons."


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