Why McLaren promoted Andrea Stella to Team Principal

Andrea Stella - McLaren - F1

The Team Principal shuffle has resulted in Andrea Stella’s promotion into the spotlight at McLaren ahead of the 2023 F1 season.

The final piece in the Team Principal merry-go-round was Andrea Stella being promoted from Executive Director of Racing to Team Principal.

Stella graduated with an aerospace engineering degree in Rome and began working for Ferrari in 2000. He worked as a Performance and Race Engineer for the Scuderia alongside Kimi Raikkonen and Micheal Schumacher. He then worked with Fernando Alonso at Ferrari and followed Alonso to McLaren as the Head of Operations.

While at McLaren, Stella was the Head of Operations from 2015, became the Performance Director in 2018, and the Race Director from 2019 onwards. Andrea had progressed from a Race Engineer to helping run the overall operations of an F1 team.

Stella’s promotion at McLaren was a result of Fred Vasseur joining Ferrari. The Sauber racing group wanted to speed up their replacement process, as Andreas Seidl was set to participate in 2025 after his McLaren contract expired. Once Stella accepted the Team Principal position, McLaren was willing to negotiate Seidl’s early release. McLaren CEO Zak Brown told the media,

“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.”

Through familiarity with the current team and a batch of experience, Stella received his promotion as he worked around the paddock. His years with Ferrari laid a strong foundation of knowledge about becoming a leader and making tough decisions.

Useful Experience

Andrea’s experience mainly comes as a Race Engineer. He is comfortable being in the post-race debriefs and working directly with drivers. This could help Andrea when trying to help a young driver in Oscar Piastri and handling the relationship between Piastri and Lando Norris. While Oscar may not hit the ground running, Stella could provide context to his performances and help develop the driver, as he has seen and worked with many of the greats.

Stella worked for Ferrari during an era in which expectations were high, and he managed to help Kimi Raikonnen win a Driver’s Championship. He could perform even with the intense pressure, and such results will help in his new post. Zak Brown and McLaren are desperate to keep on improving and challenge for a title.

Along with managing pressure, his close relationship with drivers, and the car itself, he understands the manufacturing process as an engineer. Stella has plenty of experience understanding a car and the developing process as the season progresses. Stella told Planet F1,

“I think the opportunity we have is that I’ve been dealing with and exposed to the engineering and racing elements of Formula 1 throughout my career, and I will be close to the core objectives of the team which, ultimately, is build a quick car and race this car effectively while on track.”

Brown has been able to help McLaren grow exponentially on the commercial side, but the racing side took a few steps back this year. Stella will be under pressure to generate results and get the team back on track. It will not be easy, but his experience could help them take the next step forward.

The McLaren car struggled from the beginning of the 2022 season, resulting from a lack of grasping the new regulations. Someone whose job was to understand cars quickly fits well into this new role and challenge.

Hands-On Approach

The essential characteristic of his promotion is what he could showcase around the paddock. Zak Brown explained that his “hands-on” approach made Stella a strong candidate. Brown told the media at the McLaren factory,

“He is a very hands-on person in the racing team, which was of high interest to me and the shareholders – to have someone leading the team that gets their hands dirty, so to speak. So, we are very excited and that’s how we came about to where we are today.”

Stella left an impression on Brown with his active approach in the paddock. His leadership and various promotions at McLaren showcase a belief in Stella and his experience.

Since he has never led an entire team, there will be a learning curve for certain leadership aspects. His engineering background will help, but Andrea must now grasp the full range of departments. If he is going to be hands-on in different departments, he will need to lean on what he learned while doing engineering duties and around the paddock.

Andrea Stella’s success will depend on his ability to lead those various departments successfully. He has a strong reputation and years around the Formula 1 paddock, but this role will be his most ambitious.

Featured Image Credit: Formula 1 / McLaren Media