Key heading to Italy

James Key, the former technical director of Sauber, will be starting work at Scuderia Toro Rosso on September 1, which probably explains why Giorgio Ascanelli departed back in July. Key left Sauber in February, which suggests that he may have had six months of gardening leave from Sauber, which meant that he could not work in F1 but that did not preclude him from working with the Lotus sports car team, working with Advanced Design Engineering Systems Solutions AG in Germany.

Key worked with the Jordan F1 team from 1998 and became technical director when the team transformed into MF1 Racing. He remained in the same role when the team became Spyker and then as Force India but in 2010 he left to join Sauber, but his stay there was not what he was looking for and so he decided to move on. It is not clear when the deal to join Scuderia Toro Rosso was done.

21 thoughts on “Key heading to Italy

  1. I read an article on Autosport Plus suggesting Giorgio Ascanelli had lost his touch, yet I think I also read on Autosport that there were rumours of him joining Ferrari. Do you have any further information on this please?

  2. It was Ron Dennis who said a talented racing driver needs a talented race engineer to achieve race wins, and he’s right!

    Remember the partnership of Ascanelli & Senna at Mclaren during the eighties…?

    The movement of Engineers and Designers between F1 Teams is more intriguing than Driver transfers.

  3. You should do a “family tree” of racing teams. I have no recollection of MF1 Racing nor any of the stuff Onyx evolved into. It’d be a great study.
    Glad you’re back on line.

    1. Ferrari
      McLaren Racing Ltd – McLaren International – McLaren Racing Ltd
      Sauber – Red Bull Sauber – Sauber Motorsport – BMW Sauber
      Prior to starting Williams Grand Prix Engineering, Frank Williams was involved with Frank Williams Racing Cars, De Tomaso, Iso Marlboro, Politoys and Wolf Williams. The original Williams team then became Wolf Racing. It’s assets were later sold to Fittipaldi Automotive (went out of business).
      HRT began life as Campos Meta, but never raced under that name. It became Hispania Racing Team – HRT
      The original Lotus team died out in 1995.
      Lotus F1 Team – Caterham
      Virgin – Marussia
      Stewart Grand Prix – Jaguar Racing – Red Bull Racing
      Jordan – Midland F1 – Spyker – Force India
      Tyrrell- British American Racing – BAR – Honda Racing F1 – Brawn – Mercedes
      Toleman – Benetton – Renault – Lotus F1
      Minardi – Scuderia Toro Rosso

      Onyx – Monteverdi (went out of business)
      Ligier (which acquired much of Matra’s equipment and a lot of personnel) – Prost Grand Prix (went out of business)
      Brabham (went out of business)
      Arrows – Footwork – Arrows – TWR Arrows (went out of business)
      ATS was established with some of the assets of Penske Racing. It later folded but owner Gunther Schmid came back with a new team called Rial.
      Osella – Fondmetal

      etc etc

      1. This is why people should enjoy watching Marrussia and HRT – you never, ever know what can happen given a rich investor and a regulations change. Who’d have ever put money on Stewart GP or Toleman winning the WCC within 10-15 years.

        1. >”Who’d have ever put money on…Toleman winning the WCC within 10-15 years.”

          Me. In 1980.

          Watching them (on TV) in F2.

          Where (so I thought) all the cars were off the shelf and pretty much equally quick. I watched them field a car they’d built themselves and take the top two places.

          What impressed me though, was that the winner had -lapped- everyone except his team mate and the bloke who finished 3rd. I didn’t think anyone ever lapped anyone in F2. And I decided I’d support them if they ever went into F1.

          How sad is that…?

      2. And he didn’t even need to look that up!

        I must say, I’d also lost track of these lineages, so it’s good to have a reminder, but we are all glad there’s a full-stop after Moda.

  4. Interesting. Also, should it be worrying that Sauber doesn’t seem to have named an official TD since Key left?

  5. Joe, do you know why Key hasn’t been snapped up by a bigger team? He’s always worked with midfield teams in his career, yet what he did for Saube in the last year or so has been extremely impressive. Hopefully he can push STR forward in the same way.

    1. Difficult for Joe to answer that one for obvious reasons.

      So I’ll butt in.

      Perhaps he needs the elbow room you get in mid-field Teams to make the changes they require.

      None of the big teams would give him that much authority, and quite right too.

  6. Joe,

    Haven’t there also been some senior Petronas aero guys recently move to TR too ?

    Is this TR re-focussing or Red Bull tightening the purse strings ?

    1. Could also be the start of musical chairs for whatever is going to happen in the 2013-2015 timeframe, with manufacturers or whatever.

  7. Seems a missed opportunity here. Key in a Design and Development role and Ascanelli in an Operations and trackside Team Manager role would be a strong combination.

  8. Joe,

    Wasn’t it reported that Key wanted to return to a UK-based job when he left Sauber? Was that just a blind?

    1. Lots of things are reported. I try to get it right. Believe me, he’s starting at Faenza on September 1

      1. I do believe you.

        My question is, did the plan change, was he misquoted, or did he always plan to come to TR, and the public story about Lotus and the UK was just a distraction? I suppose I’m curious as well why he didn’t simply announce that he was serving gardening leave and would then go to TR.

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