McLaren and Red Bull in staff contract wrangle
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-prole 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 signicant 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 difcult 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