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James Key (Formula One)

James Key
Born (1972-01-14) 14 January 1972 (age 52)
Chelmsford, Essex, England
Alma materUniversity of Nottingham (BEng)
OccupationFormula One engineer

James Key (born 14 January 1972) is a British engineer who has worked in Formula One. He is currently the technical director of Stake F1 Team.


James Key studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nottingham. Lotus Engineering sponsored him to his degree in 1996.[1][2]

Formula One career

Key joined Jordan Grand Prix in 1998 spending several years as a data engineer, then became race engineer for Takuma Sato. Following a year in the wind tunnel he transferred to the vehicle dynamics department, eventually becoming the department head during the team's final few seasons as Jordan Grand Prix.

Shortly after the team's ownership transferred to MF1 Racing, he became Technical Director during the 2005 Formula One season following a brief period as Technical Co-ordinator. He was one of the youngest Technical Directors of a Formula One team, at the age of 33 years, along with Sam Michael (born in 1971) who became the technical director of the Williams F1 team at the age of 33 during the 2004 season. Key retained his position during the team's transition through Spyker F1 to Force India F1.

In April 2010 he left Force India to join the Sauber team, replacing Willy Rampf as Technical Director.[3] He remained there for almost two years, before leaving in February 2012 to accept an undisclosed offer with one of the British-based teams.[4]

On 6 September 2012, it was announced that Key had joined Scuderia Toro Rosso as Technical Director, replacing Giorgio Ascanelli.[5]

On 26 July 2018, McLaren confirmed that Key had agreed to become technical director of the team, replacing the ousted Tim Goss. On 22 February 2019, it was announced that Key would join McLaren from 25 March 2019, just after the Australian Grand Prix.[6] He formed a triumvirate with Andrea Stella as Racing Director and Piers Thynne as Production Director, all under Team Principal Andreas Seidl.[7] Key was released by McLaren on 23 March 2023 in an organisational change of the team's executive technical director role, replaced by David Sanchez following team dissatifaction with the initial design and early season performance of their 2023 challenger - the MCL60.[8][9]

On 7 June 2023, Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake announced that Key would be joining the team on 1 September 2023.[10] He will take on the role of Technical Director again, replacing the ousted Jan Monchaux. He previously held the position of Technical Director under this team under its former name of Sauber in 2013, ahead of their re-branding as the Audi works team in 2026.[3] He will once again be working under Andreas Seidl, CEO of Sauber Group, who had served as Team Principal during the pair's time at McLaren.


  1. ^ "The will to win - careers advice to get ahead - University of Nottingham - The University of Nottingham". Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  2. ^ „Alumni James Key (Mechanical Engineering, 1996)“
  3. ^ a b Beer, Matt (24 February 2010). "Key takes over as Sauber technical boss". Haymarket Publications. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
  4. ^ Noble, Jonathan (3 February 2012). "Technical director James Key to part company with Sauber". Haymarket Publications. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  5. ^ "Key replaces Ascanelli at Toro Rosso". 6 September 2012. Archived from the original on 29 September 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  6. ^ Beer, Matt. "Toro Rosso: Key to join McLaren as F1 technical boss after Melbourne".
  7. ^ "Stella promoted in McLaren restructure". BBC Sport. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  8. ^ Noble, Jonathan (23 March 2023). "Key out, Sanchez] in as McLaren restructures F1 team".
  9. ^ "McLaren Formula 1 team announces organisational changes". Retrieved 23 March 2023.
  10. ^ "James Key joins Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake as Technical Director". Retrieved 7 June 2023.
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James Key (Formula One)
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