Who is Rob Marshall? McLaren’s new technical director from Red Bull

Find out about McLaren technical director Rob Marshall who recently joined the team from Red Bull

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Rob Marshall could be a key name who leads McLaren back to the front after he joined the team from Red Bull ahead of the 2024 Formula 1 season.

Following the departure of James Key as McLaren‘s technical director in March 2023, team principal Andrea Stella and CEO Zak Brown have changed the structure of their squad and it seems to be paying off.

“We have plenty to look forward to, both in 2024 and in the years ahead,” said Brown in January 2024. “Significant recent investments in our infrastructure, including a new wind tunnel, a next-generation simulator and an upgraded manufacturing unit will help accelerate our journey back to the front.

“Plus, we have new senior personnel starting with us in January, in Rob Marshall and David Sanchez, who, combined with our already awesome team, should ensure we start 2024 on the front foot.”

But who is Rob Marshall? And find out who David Sanchez is too, after he also joined McLaren‘s technical team at the start of 2024.

Education and early career of Rob Marshall

Like many people employed by F1 teams, Marshall studied engineering and went to the University of Cardiff before working for British car brand Rolls-Royce.

His big breakthrough came when joining the Benetton F1 team as a design engineer in 1994, as Michael Schumacher won two titles for the team.

He stayed with the squad when they became Renault in the early 2000s and played a crucial role in the car’s development as head of mechanical design when Fernando Alonso led the team to consecutive constructors’ and drivers’ championships in 2005 and 2006.

Marshall at Red Bull

Ahead of the 2006 season itself though, Marshall joined Red Bull as chief designer at the same time Adrian Newey also signed a contract to lead the technical team.

Newey is seen as the mastermind for Red Bull‘s rise up the pecking order which culminated with four consecutive world titles with Sebastian Vettel between 2010 and 2013. However, Marshall deserves plenty of credit too as the pair worked together to produce four championship-winning cars.

Rob Marshall was in attendance at the 2022 Japanese GP when Max Verstappen won his second F1 world title | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

In 2016, Marshall was given the position of chief engineering officer at Red Bull as Newey stepped away from F1 for a few years but the team continued to win races with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

Red Bull‘s 2021 car controversially ended Mercedes‘ run of championship success when Verstappen edged out Hamilton in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on the final lap.

Mercedes lost the constructors’ championship for the first time in nine years in 2022 as Red Bull surged to another title and then produced the most dominant car in F1 history when the 2023 machine took 21 out of 22 wins.

“He was able to accommodate things mechanically within the car like batteries inside the gearbox with the KERS car back in the 2009-2013 era,” Christian Horner said of Marshall.

“He played a significant role within the team but over recent years he moved onto other projects and hasn’t been on the mainstream of Formula 1.”

Rob Marshall celebrates on the podium at the 2023 Australian GP | Peter Fox / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Marshall’s move to McLaren

In May 2023, McLaren confirmed they had signed Marshall from Red Bull as part of their technical restructure following the departure of James Key.

Marshall became the team’s new technical director for design and engineering from January 1, 2024 with David Sanchez also joining the team from Ferrari, as technical director for car concept and performance. The experienced Peter Prodromou leads the aerodynamic team.

“Rob has been with us for 17 years and has been an instrumental player in the building of Red Bull,” said Horner. “After 17 years he had an offer, a significant offer, from McLaren.

“While he still had a period of time on his contract, he was keen to go back into F1, so we came go an agreement with him, negotiated a deal with Zak that worked for everybody.

“We did a little thing for him at his last debrief. Usually when someone leaves a team we tell them to f**k off. With Rob it’s a bit different, he’s a good guy. He’s just going onto a new challenge.

“It’s a bit like Manchester United. If you look at their team, how it evolved over a period of time, Eric Cantona wasn’t still playing 17 years later.”

Rob Marshall looks on at the 2023 Australian GP | Mark Thompson / Getty Images Red Bull Content Pool

Marshall bringing knowledge to McLaren

Marshall‘s three decades in F1 and his time at Red Bull will only enhance McLaren‘s rise up the grid as excitement continues to build around Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri‘s future title chances.

Norris admitted the signings of Marshall and Sanchez gave him a lot of belief back in June 2023 before McLaren‘s incredible charge in the second half of that season.

“Just knowledge, expertise. He’s been at Red Bull for many, many years, he’s seen a lot of success with the team,” said Norris when asked what Marshall will bring to McLaren.

“He’s been with some of the best minds within Formula 1 and he’s definitely part of that group. So, brains and lap-time I guess is the two big things. He’s a big person, a big signing for us as a team, is a big person, a big signing for us as a team so, I think someone that a lot of people within McLaren will look up to, and respect and so on.

“But a good step for us as a team to keep this drive forward, continuing to add performance and expertise to the whole team in our drive to improve, move up the grid.”

Who is David Sanchez?

Another key technical signing McLaren made for 2024 was David Sanchez‘ return to the team after 12 years away from Woking.

Sanchez joined McLaren from Renault in 2007 as a senior aerodynamicist and went on to lead the department that developed the innovative F-Duct in 2010.

However, he moved to Ferrari towards the end of 2012 and rose up the aerodynamicist ranks at Maranello, just like he did at McLaren, before heading up that part of the team from 2019.

He was promoted to chief engineer and led the design of the 2022 Ferrari car, which saw the team challenge for the title in the first half of the season.

The Frenchman left Ferrari in March 2023 as he entered a period of gardening leave then officially joined McLaren at the start of 2024, along with Marshall.

John Smith
John Smithhttps://total-motorsport.com
Editor at Total-Motorsport.com and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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