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James Key is packing his bag of technical tricks and heading back to the U.K. from Sauber F1 Team's Swiss headquarters. After spending two years working with the team, he was offered a new role closer to home which he decided to accept, Key said. No doubt he'll be forced to accept a few months of "gardening leave" before joining his new team.
The Sauber F1 Team will reorganize its technical department with the loss of Key. Team principal Peter Sauber will name a new technical director but will rely on the the current department heads for aerodynamics, design, performance and operations to continue design and development of the new Formula One car for 2012.
"A qualified team shares the overall technical responsibility," Sauber said. "This structure has proved to work well at other racing outfits. Over a period of almost two years, James has accomplished a lot for our team," he admitted. "Especially in the difficult transition period from a manufacturer team into a private enterprise, he contributed significantly to ensure the team regained stability. We would like to thank him for his efforts and wish him all the best for his future."
Key said he'd "enjoyed the past two years working at the Sauber F1 Team. It has been a very intense and interesting time in which we had to manage the transition from a much larger team to a smaller one. Everyone handled that very well," he said.
The Ferrari-powered Sauber F1 Team uses drivers from diverse areas of the world: Kamui Kobayashi from Japan and Mexico's Sergio Perez. The 2011 season was Perez' first in the "completely different world" of Formula One while Kobayashi was completing only his second full season. The stability of the team's driver lineup should serve it well in the coming year.