Verstappen’s departing chief mechanic seems to indicate weak leadership at Red Bull

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Verstappen's departing chief mechanic seems to indicate weak leadership at Red Bull

Last week, Lee Stevenson announced his departure from Red Bull Racing. The Brit had been with the team since 2006 and worked his way up to chief mechanic over the years. As of today, Stevenson is taking on a new challenge at Stake: a striking transfer, especially in connection with a message that Stevenson himself shared on his LinkedIn last week.

Stevenson started working for Jordan Grand Prix as an intern in 2000 as a teenager. In 2006 he moved to the then new Red Bull, where he managed to work his way up over the years until he became the chief mechanic on Daniil Kvyat’s car in 2015. The Russian was replaced by Max Verstappen a year later, and so Stevenson worked with the Dutchman for years. Verstappen’s former chief mechanic indicated in the past that he had built up a good relationship with the Limburger.

Hero role in Budapest

However, after the 2020 season, Stevenson stepped down as Verstappen’s chief mechanic, at his own request. The Brit had had a child and wanted to get a role where he could spend more time with his family, and was in charge of the test team’s mechanics in 2021 and 2022. Since 2023, Stevenson has also been in charge of the racing team’s mechanics again. One of Stevenson’s absolute highlights came in 2020, when Verstappen crashed before the Hungarian Grand Prix. Under the leadership of Stevenson, Verstappen’s RB16 was patched up just in time, after which Verstappen was able to finish second thanks to a top start.

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Verstappen's departing chief mechanic seems to indicate weak leadership at Red Bull
Lee Stevenson with Max Verstappen in 2019.

The fact that Stevenson is leaving Red Bull after eighteen years is striking in itself, especially because he has been less present on the circuits in recent seasons. It is all the more striking that he seems to be leaving for Stake. The Audi team opened the season with hopeless pit stops, and Stevenson’s experience will be very welcome. Stevenson will work for the team with the black and green cars from today, and will already be in action in Japan for the rearguard team.

Striking statement

Stevenson himself announced his departure from Red Bull on social media, ending with a green and a black heart, as a reference to his new employer. Last week, the Brit shared a message on LinkedIn for the first time in a year, containing the following quote. ‘If an organization is underperforming, it is easy to replace employees or transfer people in the hope that the situation will improve. Unfortunately, in many cases the situation remains the same.’

‘Leaders are responsible for creating an environment where people feel their best. So if you change your team without addressing the work environment and allow the culture to be defined by the status quo, your company will always be mediocre at best.” With this, Stevenson seems to link his departure from Red Bull to the alleged power struggle and the role of team boss Christian Horner in this.

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