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McLaren appoint Sauber chief designer Morris as engineering director
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Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Jul 2013   |  5:20 pm GMT  |  25 comments

McLaren have appointed Sauber’s chief designer Matt Morris as their new engineering director, working for technical director Tim Goss.

Goss was promoted to his current role earlier this year when Paddy Lowe left the position to become executive director (technical) at Mercedes.

It is not yet known when Morris will take up the role. The team said in a statement that he had been recruited to help work on the team’s 2014 project – when 1.6-litre V6 engines are introduced – as well as 2015 when McLaren will switch Mercedes engines for Honda units.

Morris worked closely at Williams with Sporting Director Sam Michael, who is likely to have recommended him for the position.

A McLaren spokesperson said: “Matt Morris will join McLaren Racing as engineering director once his current contractual situation with Sauber is resolved.

“Matt will work for our technical director, Tim Goss, to ensure our engineering standards and technical decision-making capabilities are of the highest quality.

“During a period of intense technical challenge within Formula 1, Matt’s appointment is the first step in an ongoing programme to strengthen the engineering department as our organisation prepares for the arrival of Honda in 2015.”

McLaren’s sporting director Sam Michael said: “With the amount of work we have ahead of next year’s regulation changes and also the Honda project, it’s quite a chunky piece of work.

“It’s happening at the moment but Matt coming will definitely help us add to that engineering strength. I’m looking forward to him joining.”

Sauber have promoted Eric Gandelin to the role of chief designer following Morris’ departure.

The Swiss team’s boss Monish Kaltenborn played down the loss of Morris. “It’s just part of the natural movement that happens in the paddock,” Kaltenborn told Autosport.

“People decide to change teams and we have a replacement who I am very confident is the right person to take up this job and the challenges.

“In our business, you never have much warning [of such a move] and that is part of it. You have to be able to react very quickly and we have resolved it.”

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25 Comments
  1. Pierre says:

    Smart move indeed! Matt must know a few details about Ferrari’s V6 engine!

  2. goferet says:

    Congrats to Matt Morris on his new appointment with a prestigious team such as Mclaren with it’s rich F1 history.

    To be honest, I don’t know about Matt Morris but considering the fact that he’s living a team that’s struggling (after Peter Sauber left in 2012), am not sure he’s the man Mclaren are looking for to get them back on the straight and narrow.

    I mean, if you want to become the best, you have to hire and work with the best and that means poaching talent from winning teams.

    Also with Morris being British, I suspect he hasn’t got used to the solitude of Switzerland and misses the comradely of the motorsport valley and hence the sudden move after 2 years at Sauber.

    Anyway, lets see how all this pans out, 2014 can’t come soon enough for 2013 appears to be done and dusted.

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      Actually, Autosport made a good point of this. Sauber don’t have a tech chief like other teams do, the head of Aero and head of Engineering (Morris) work together on designing the car. In this years case the aero team came up with the idea for the narrow sidepods, Morris job was to make the engineering for it feasible, which he succeeded in. He’s clearly very good at the mechanical side but knows little about aero.

      It’s thought he’s been brought in to shore up McLaren’s processes and prevent them from producing another dog like this years car.

  3. Serrated_Edge says:

    Slightly off topic James, but the odds of a Jenson Button move to Red Bull have been slashed after a rush of bets being placed.
    Do the bookies know something we don’t?

    1. PB says:

      Redbull would have redefined the meaning of the word foolishness if they so much as even think of doing this.

  4. Anne says:

    Good news I guess. McLaren clearly needs all the help they can get. New people with other ideas and point of view.

  5. Peres Mircea says:

    I think it is a good move for Mclaren. He is a relatevely young engineer (born in 1974) with fresh ideas and eager to take risks because he was involved in Sauber’s sidepods, and William’s ultra-compact gearbox. Even if his ideas failled to produce spectacular results, it’s remarkable his creativity and courage. This is the atitudine that Mclaren needs and with experienced engineers alonside him like Tim Goss and Neil Oatley he should bring fresh ideas into Mclaren’s design team. If the rumour with James Allison already working on a Honda prototype car for V6 testing in Japan, Mclaren will more than fill the gap left by Paddy. Don’t forget Gilles Simon who is working for almost a year on the Honda engine.
    Mclaren should have an edge over Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull because they shift their focus on next year car very early ( end of June), while Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton will drain an important amount of resources if they battle until November 2013.)

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      Ber in mind that Gilles Simon was released by Ferrari for Luca Marmorini some years ago. I also find it astonishing that a non Japanese has been recruited by Honda.

      Also, I would imagine that Mercedes with their plethora of design chiefs won’t lack for focus on next years car, and Ferrari have been working on the 2014 design since early this year. The head of design there is a certain Rory Byrne..

      1. Peres Mircea says:

        Mercedes has a lot of design chiefs, they have the heads, yes, but the base of designers and engineers which work under this senior chiefs, is inferior to what Mclaren, Ferrari and Red Bull have. Mclaren has many more people in their F1 team than Mercedes AMG F1. Mercedes only got Lowe, Costa, Bell and Willis, but remember their staff is inferior with a few hundreds o people to Mclaren’s and Ferrari’s staff. Mclaren lost Lowe, and went for a wrong pull-rod design, but have lots of engineers, young engineers and graduates within their organisation. And apart of Hamilton’s salary you have to know that Mercedes isn’t spending lots of money in their F1 programe. That’s why they got Lauda and Wolff as shareholders, but Wolff and Lauda are nowhere near Dieter Materschitz or the Bahrain investors at Mclaren. Toto Wolff admited after that they recruted Lowe that every person is welcomed in their staff considering “from where this team comes”. Their strenght in deepth is nowhere compared with Mclaren and Ferrari.

      2. Robert says:

        “McLaren lost Lowe, and went for a wrong pull-rod design”…

        Not the case. The decision to switch to both a high-nose chassis and pull-rod at the same time (thus invalidating nearly all of their tuning and CFD maths accumulated over the years of low-noses and push-rods) was undertaken very much by Lowe, while he was still captain of the engineering department. ANY such a change would have had to have had his total endorsement, as well as Dennis’s and probably Whitmarsh’s.

        Losing Lowe didn’t put McLaren in their current pickle – HE put them there.

  6. Andrew M says:

    As a long term McLaren fan, I just can’t help but think they have a long way back to the top. Technically they just seem nowhere, and the McLaren lulls are becoming a far too regular occurrence. Bringing in Honda after a six year absence and with everyone else having a 12 month headstart could backfire spectacularly.

    Their driver line-up leaves something to be desired as well. I rate Jenson highly but he is a notch below the top tier drivers of F1, and he isn’t getting any younger (his championship winning season was 4 years ago now, seems like yesterday!). Perez hasn’t shown he can lead the team yet. I think they’ll have to produce a blinding car to win the title with their current driver line-up.

    Bad times.

  7. Dave P says:

    Funniest photo ever!

    Martin Whitmarsh: Your Gonna need a suit
    Matt: But I haven’t got one….
    Martin: your kidding me?
    Matt: No, I am an engineer… I dpon’t wear suits
    Martin: Well your gonna need one
    Matt: Well I have got my wedding suit from 10 years ago…
    Martin: That should be fine….
    Matt: It maybe a big snug, especially the shirt Collar
    Martin: How bad can it be… anyway we are trying to slim down our budget.. your suit will help
    Matt: Ok… I guess it will be fine… I don’t have to speak or anything like that will I?
    Martin: Err… hold this spanner for me… its new kind of spanner that you talk into..
    Matt hey I could pretend to be drunk and do some kareoke into it
    Martin: Feel free… be my guest… do you mind if we take a photo while you do it… It’s just for our internal magazine… nobody’s gonna see it… sing away..

    1. malb says:

      Perfect. So funny! Ideal amid all the stress of the weekend.

    2. Tim says:

      Very funny :-)

    3. Fellowes says:

      Excellent…we need more of these.

    4. treeFog says:

      And now, the end is here
      And so I face the final curtain
      My friend, I’ll say it clear
      I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
      I’ve lived a life that’s full
      I traveled each and ev’ry highway
      And more, much more than this, I did it my way

      I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
      I’ve had my fill (at Sauber), my share of losing
      And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
      To think I did all that
      And may I say, not in a shy way,
      “Oh, no, oh, no, McClaren, I’m on my way”

  8. Monktonnik says:

    I have to admit that when Sam Michael joined Mclaren I was apprehensive. Hearing that Morris worked closely with him at Williams hasn’t made me feel any better.

  9. John Gibson says:

    The more important story here is surely the increasingly concerning rumours surrounding Sauber’s finances. Hulkenburg hasn’t been paid for a couple of months now. Engineers trying to get out. The team apparently completely dependent on securing a new sponsorship deal that has been dragging on for months. It isn’t looking good and I can’t help but wonder how many other privateers might be facing something similar.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, monitoring that

  10. Monza01 says:

    I agree with you : when I heard of Sam’s move I wondered why Martin was recruiting a guy who had overseen the dramatic decline of Williams.

    However I then thought, McLaren don’t make mistakes like that, they must know a lot more about the situation at Williams than we do. Maybe they were going downhill because they were not following the advice Sam was giving them ?

    At first this seemed to be born out because Sam was credited with the dramatic improvement in the team’s pit stop performance.

    Now I’m not so sure.

    I’m really worried that McLaren may now be going the same way as Williams.

    What we do know is that engineering excellence at the top of a F1 team is so finely balanced that the slightest wrong direction leads to a massive loss of grid position and race performance.

    Never before have grid slots been decided by such tight margins.

    The amazing thing in F1 2013 is that the top five or six completely independent teams all have the necessary expertise to design and produce their own individual car that can lap 19 very different circuits within a tenth of a second or so of each other.

    It’s therefore hardly surprising that the smallest mistake by a team, even one like McLaren, can result in them dropping the ball occasionally.

    In 2014, Ferrari and Mercedes are likely to join Red Bull at the top of the pile given their aggressive recruitment of the very best engineers this year.

    The crucial question is, can the pool of engineering talent that remains available to McLaren and Williams really get them back to the front of the grid ?

    From where we are at the moment, this has to be in doubt

    Sadly for financial reasons this probably isn’t an option open to Williams but if I were McLaren I would be out there with a huge pile of cash and quite a few shares in my briefcase.

    There are two people out there to whom I would be making an offer I would hope they can’t refuse.

  11. Grabsplatter says:

    Bearing in mind that Sam Michael has overseen the decline of both teams he has worked for, why do I have a bad feeling about this?

    1. Zombie says:

      I said the same thing a while ago and i was soundly criticized by other members on this blog. I really did not see a value in Mclaren hiring Sam Michael when they actually should have been looking at what Lotus and more importantly Force India were able to achieve with half of Mclaren’s budget.

  12. Phil says:

    mclaren has gone steadily downhill since Sam Michael joined after a disaster at Williams. Being recommended by him is not a good look…it’s not going to go well,I think.

    1. Robert says:

      Can you explain that? Before Sam Michael joined, McLaren’s pitstops were a train wreck as often as not. A few months into his tenure, McLaren habitually lead the pack in pit stop performance, and there are far fewer screwups. He is SPORTING director, not engineering, and their sporting performance has improved under him.

      Paddy Lowe (timing wise) must have been the chief decision maker on the “high nose/pull-rod” design revamp from what was the fastest car on the grid. That was an TECHNICAL director’s decision, and Paddy has since left rather than live with his bad mistakes. But how you can put that on the Sporting Director is beyond me….

  13. Nilo says:

    How can a top team can get it so wrong: To lose Lewis Hamilton, Paddy Lowe, engine partner Mercedes Benz, title sponsor Vodaphone , move from a winning car in 2012 to a total disaster in 2013 ( with very few rule changes). Perez is no Hamilton and I doubt if Morris is a replacement for Lowe. One wonders how long Messrs Whitmarsh and Michael should be left in charge?

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