McLaren have succeeded in luring top aerodynamicist Peter Prodromou away from Formula One world champions Red Bull, team principal Martin Whitmarsh said yesterday.
The move will be seen as a coup for the former champions, the sport’s most successful team after Ferrari, who have more arrivals in the pipeline as they build up to a partnership with Honda in 2015.
“He’s signed a contract with us,” Whitmarsh said at the Japanese Grand Prix, without giving any details about a starting date.”
McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale added: “It is not a one-off thing we are doing, as we have made some moves during the course of this year. There are some other things we are doing to strengthen our team. It is a series of moves as we head towards 2015 with Honda to make sure this team stays at the forefront of F1 and is set for winning ways.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner indicated McLaren could expect a long wait before Prodromou, head of aerodynamics in Adrian Newey’s design team, would return to Woking.
“The contents of any contract will be confidential between the company and the individual,” Horner said. “We’ve enjoyed a long relationship with Peter and he’s a valuable member of the team and there’s quite a duration left on his contract.
“We won’t force him to stay, if it’s his choice to leave then he’ll leave at the end of his contract. But we are quite some way off that.”
Horner, who could be celebrating Sebastian Vettel’s fourth successive title for Red Bull today, would not confirm that Prodromou’s current contract ran to 2015.
“He’s obviously been a very, very strong character in the background responsible for a lot of good stuff that has happened to us over the last couple of years,” Vettel said after qualifying. “For sure I hope he stays with us but I don’t know. I only just heard, when I got out of the car.”
London-born Prodromou was McLaren’s head of aerodynamics until 2006, having joined in 1991, when he followed Newey to Red Bull. Together, they have produced the cars that have won the last three drivers’ and constructors’ titles.
Australian Mark Webber led a Red Bull front row sweep yesterday and denied team mate Vettel a fifth successive Japanese Grand Prix pole position. Vettel, who can clinch his fourth successive world title at the age of 26 today if he wins and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finishes lower than eighth, had mechanical problems and had to settle for second.
Scotland’s Paul di Resta will be 12th on the grid.