The shock timing when Seidl quit McLaren (but kept it secret)

Zak Brown has revealed that Andreas Seidl had already informed him of his plans to leave McLaren, but his exit was ultimately fast-tracked by Ferrari’s move for Frederic Vasseur.
(L to R): Zak Brown (USA)
(L to R): Zak Brown (USA)

Vasseur was confirmed as Mattia Binotto’s replacement as Ferrari team principal on Tuesday morning, shortly before Seidl’s departure from McLaren to become CEO of Sauber was announced amid a dramatic managerial merry-go-round.

Speaking to media including in a press conference after Andrea Stella was named as Seidl’s successor with immediate effect, McLaren CEO Brown explained the timeline of events that led to the changes.

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Brown explained that Seidl told McLaren during the 2022 season that he would quit upon the expiry of his contract at the end of 2025 in order to lead Audi’s F1 project.

McLaren intended to keep Seidl in the position of team principal before replacing him with Stella in 2026, and were going to announce their plans during the winter break.

But Binotto’s resignation from Ferrari, and the Italian outfit’s swift signing of former Alfa Romeo-Sauber boss Vasseur, accelerated events and resulted in McLaren letting Seidl go earlier than planned.

“Andreas, who did an excellent job here at McLaren for the last handful of seasons, in a very transparent manner, informed me during the season that he was going to go elsewhere when his contract was up at the end of 2025,” Brown said.

“Probably pretty clear where that destination would be, which was quite understandable, given his background.

Zak Brown (USA) McLaren Executive Director in the FIA Press Conference. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi
Zak Brown (USA) McLaren Executive Director in the FIA Press Conference…

“So at that time we intended to continue for the foreseeable future because the relationship is very healthy and his work discipline is very strong.

“What we were going to do, at the end of the season, was let the world know that change would come at the end of the ’25 season and after we intended to go public, the first person I was going to call to see if they would lead McLaren’s Formula 1 team, was Andrea - but not at that point being sure whether that would be something he would consider.

“In the fast-pace of the Formula 1 environment, when it became clear that Fred [Vasseur] was going to go to Ferrari, and when Finn Rausing, who is someone that I’ve known for a decade and get along with very well, gave me a call to see if there was a discussion to be had to potentially release Andreas early.

“My reaction was that if Andrea would be happy to join as team principal, then I’d be very happy to make that change now, which I think puts everyone in their permanent homes for the foreseeable future.

“So I went about having a conversation with Andrea, pre him having any awareness that Andreas was going to move on for the ’26 season. After some good conversations, Andrea kindly accepted the role, which then put us in a very comfortable position to move forward, because Andrea was always our number one choice to lead the team moving forward.

“That all came together quite rapidly and here we are with Andrea now as our team principal, which myself, our drivers, our team is extremely excited about.”

(L to R): Andreas Seidl, McLaren Managing Director with Andrea Stella (ITA) McLaren Performance
(L to R): Andreas Seidl, McLaren Managing Director with Andrea Stella (ITA…

Brown refused to specify an exact date when Seidl informed him of his plans to leave, but joked it was “after the first race and before the last race” and gave McLaren “sufficient time”.

He also explained why McLaren decided against putting Seidl on gardening leave, a period of time - usually six months or so - that departing staff have to sit out of F1 before moving to a rival team.

“The initial intention was to continue business as usual,” Brown said. “As far as gardening leave, we have a great relationship.

“I know a lot of teams play the gardening leave card, but I think as we’ve demonstrated at McLaren, there are ways to dissolve a relationship, whether that’s with racing drivers, or employees, where you can do things on very workable terms for everyone.”

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