Who is our new Team Principal, Andrea Stella?
Detail-orientated, but with a focus on the big picture – here's what to expect from the Italian
Twenty-four hours is a long time in Formula 1, and although it may seem like a lot has changed within a short period, the wheels of Andrea Stella's trajectory to Team Principal have not only recently started turning, they've been in motion for some while.
The Italian's roles, responsibilities and value to McLaren have grown ever since he first set foot into the McLaren Technology Centre and walked the famous white corridors back in 2015.
He has long been seen both internally and externally as a potential leader of a team. Whilst the decision to promote him was not taken lightly, it was well-earned, and the most rational, continuity-based selection in keeping with our current direction. His skills were well-known to the team, and his DNA was already imprinted on McLaren – and vice versa.
Zak Brown has made clear that Andrea was always the first choice to take on the role, with the idea of him eventually taking on the position first mooted privately nearly a year ago. Here's why, and what we can expect from our new Team Principal…
What is his background?
With more than two decades of F1 experience behind him, Andrea is no stranger to the paddock.
The 51-year-old Italian is an Aerospace Engineering graduate from the Sapienza University of Rome. He holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and began his F1 career as a Performance Engineer with Ferrari, initially in the test team before promotion to the race team as part of Michael Schumacher's side of the garage in 2002.
A winning mentality
Winning three F1 World Championships in five years, Stella contributed to a hugely successful period for the Italian outfit, working within a pressurised environment with a winning mentality. He continued in the same role when Kimi Räikkönen joined and won the Drivers' title in 2007, before becoming his Race Engineer in 2009.
He then spent five years as Fernando Alonso's Race Engineer – with whom he formed a particularly strong bond – coming within a whisker of winning the title in 2010 and 2012, before following the Spaniard to McLaren in 2015, becoming our Head of Race Operations.
With four titles and 58 wins from his side of the garage during his time in the Ferrari race team, Andrea's CV makes for impressive reading. Schumacher's three title wins were particularly dominant – he never finished outside the top three in 2002 and only once lower than second. Whilst Räikkönen's 2007 title remains Ferrari's last to date.
His switch to McLaren
After opting to join his close-friend Alonso in switching to McLaren and starting a new chapter in his F1 career, Andrea spent three years as our Head of Race Operations, a promotion from Race Engineer that saw him working in a wider race-team-related role with a view to both sides of the garage, as opposed to one specific driver.
His influence grew considerably and quickly during this period, with a promotion to Performance Director in 2018 and, most significantly, Executive Director, Racing, in 2019. Like our CEO Zak Brown, Andrea is a stickler for detail whilst simultaneously being able to see the bigger picture – that takes a special type of mind. It was swiftly noticed and has been rightfully rewarded with considered progression.
A growing influence
Andrea Stella has been working as Executive Director, Racing, since 2019. Forming a key part of our new-look leadership team, he was working directly beneath now-former Team Principal Andreas Seidl as we began the process of resetting and entering a fresh new era for McLaren.
During this time, Andrea has played a crucial role in what Zak referred to as "McLaren's ongoing journey back to the front of the grid." As Zak states, it's very much a long-term plan that will feature ups and downs, but it has already included several successes.
Since Andrea joined, we've enjoyed our strongest Constructors' Championship since 2012, with third in 2020, as well as two fourth-place finishes, and fifth this season – a significant improvement on the ninth-place finish in his first season.
Not to mention Daniel Ricciardo's win in 2021, which was Andrea's 92nd in F1 in total.
Continuing on the same path
As the new Team Principal, he'll be charged with continuing that journey, whilst improving on a 2022 campaign that was full of learnings, but ultimately fell a little short of expectations.
The improvements made by Andrea and the entire McLaren team were a part of the constant progression seen throughout the season. Everyone learned from the problems in a difficult first race in Bahrain, responding quickly to fix the issues on the car and earn P5 and P6 just two races later in Australia.
The 2022 season saw progress in all operations, with excellent performance across the board. One example comes from within our pit-stop crew and working group, who finished second in the DHL Fastest Pit-Stop standings, up from eighth in 2021. This included our first-ever sub-two second stop, which was not just the fastest in our history, but the fastest of the season.
The upgrade packages produced on the back of those races all delivered the expected results, some with more tangible, race-related results than others. A lot of the changes made, particularly in the latter half of the year, were focused more on the upcoming season.
Andrea's job is now to continue with that work and make the role his own, having already outlined that he intends to be very "hands-on." The idea is not to change the ship's direction, but to go on full steam ahead.
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