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Pat Fry heading for McLaren F1 exit, gardening leave period begins

Pat Fry McLaren 2019

McLaren engineering director Pat Fry is understood to have been put on gardening leave after indicating that he wants to leave the Formula 1 team.

Fry had rejoined McLaren after eight years away on a short-term contract while it awaited the arrival James Key, who had been recruited from Toro Rosso as technical director but was on a lengthy gardening leave of his own.

Fry contributed to the development of the MCL34 and worked alongside performance director Andrea Stella, and both men have been reporting to Key since the latter was finally able to take up his role earlier this season.

It is unclear if Fry has a firm offer elsewhere and his gardening leave period would potentially stop him joining a team and having an influence on its 2020 car.

However, Fry's speciality is engineering and development and he could be available before testing gets underway next year.

Fry would be a logical candidate for Williams now that it is officially able to pursue new recruits for its top technical job after Paddy Lowe's departure.

Williams F1 2019

Asked in Austria if Williams would look for a direct replacement for Lowe, Claire Williams said: "We're happy with the technical management team that we have.

"We're looking at the options that are available to us now, and what would fit most appropriately with our structure.

"As soon as we make a decision and we can make an announcement, we'll share it."

Fry began his career with Benetton in 1987 and began his McLaren association in 1993 after the Ayrton Senna era, leaving for Ferrari before the 2011 McLaren car he helped create raced.

Fry had spells at Ferrari, leaving after its tumultuous 2014 campaign, before a brief spell at Manor ahead of his McLaren return last September.

A McLaren spokesman noted that the team does not comment on matters related to personnel.

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