The destination of former Force India technical director James Key did not remain a mystery for long – he’s joining BMW Sauber.
Key’s departure from Force India was announced yesterday. He will take over from Sauber’s technical director Willy Rampf in April.
Key admitted the scale of the facilities at Sauber’s Hinwil base played a role in luring him to the team:
The first time I saw the facilities in Hinwil, I knew straight away the kind of opportunities open to me there. The wind tunnel, the supercomputer, the machine park and the expertise of the team were extremely persuasive. There is significant potential at Sauber, and with the ever-changing world of F1 I think the team is very well placed at present.
Team owner Peter Sauber welcomed Key and paid tribute to Rampf who has been a long-standing member of the team:
Despite his young age, James looks back on more than a decade of experience in Formula One – and the 2009 car in particular proved quite a revelation. James comes from a private team and knows how to work around a limited budget. With us he will enjoy high-level technical opportunities. Willy and James will be devoting April to the handover.
I have known about Willy’s plans for some time, of course, and fully understand his decision. He has achieved great things for our team.
I had managed to get him on board as race engineer for season 1994. Then in 1998 he temporarily left the team to pursue his Paris-Dakar Rallye dream and ran BMW’s motorcycle involvement – a successful interlude, as we know. In 1999 he returned to the fold with the clear aim of becoming Technical Director. It was practically his first Formula One car that was out on the grid in 2001, and we finished fourth in the constructors’ championship as a privately-run team. We have Willy to thank for a great deal.