McLaren and Red Bull in staff con­tract wran­gle

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

Of­fice pol­i­tics thought to be be­hind aero chief Dan Fal­lows’ de­ci­sion to aban­don McLaren move for a re­turn to Red Bull

Red Bull and McLaren are locked in a bit­ter le­gal dis­pute over the fu­ture of se­nior aero­dy­nam­i­cist Dan Fal­lows.

Fal­lows had signed a con­tract to join McLaren, and he was an­nounced as a high-prole new ac­qui­si­tion at their car launch in Jan­uary. He then re­turned to work for Red Bull, caus­ing McLaren to threaten Red Bull with le­gal ac­tion. There was also a pub­lic ex­change of in­sults be­tween Red Bull team prin­ci­pal Chris­tian Horner and McLaren chair­man Ron Den­nis over the Chi­nese Grand Prix weekend.

Den­nis ques­tioned Red Bull’s moral­ity, while Horner hit back with a ref­er­ence to McLaren’s poor early-sea­son form, say­ing: “It’s ob­vi­ous why they are look­ing for aero­dy­nam­i­cists.”

Fal­lows’ about-turn is rooted in McLaren’s re­cruit­ment of an­other leading Red Bull gure, Peter Pro­dro­mou. Fal­lows signed his con­tract to join McLaren in Septem­ber, and the fol­low­ing month it emerged that McLaren had also signed Pro­dro­mou, Red Bull de­sign chief Adrian Newey’s long-time num­ber two – and Fal­lows’ for­mer boss.

F1 Rac­ing has learned that Fal­lows feels un­able to work with Pro­dro­mou, with whom he does not get on. So when Fal­lows dis­cov­ered that Pro­dro­mou was also mov­ing to McLaren (in the midst of the up­heaval over the ax­ing of McLaren team prin­ci­pal Martin Whit­marsh, who had re­cruited Fal­lows). Fal­lows ap­proached Red Bull about re­join­ing them. They rated him highly, so of­fered him Pro­dro­mou’s old job ti­tle – head of aero­dy­nam­ics – and a signicant pay rise.

McLaren have vir­tu­ally no prospect of win­ning a case against Red Bull, since it is il­le­gal to try to force some­one to work for a com­pany if they do not want to. And in or­der to re­ceive any com­pen­sa­tion, McLaren will have to prove dam­ages – which would be very difcult in this par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion.

Aware of this re­al­ity, McLaren rac­ing di­rec­tor Eric Boul­lier has se­cured Guil­laume Cat­te­lani from his for­mer team Lo­tus to boost the aero­dy­namic depart­ment as part of a wider plan to strengthen the team’s per­for­mance. And F1 Rac­ing un­der­stands that Cat­te­lani was ini­tially rec­om­mended by none other than Dan Fal­lows.

“People be­ing in­duced to break con­tracts is just wrong” Den­nis “I don’t think any­body can be forced to do a job against their will” Horner

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