McLaren racing director Eric Boullier insists the staff reshuffle prompted by the departure of long-serving team manager Dave Redding will not impact its preparations for 2017.
On Wednesday it was confirmed Redding will join Williams, with chief mechanic Paul James set to take his place. Given the extent of Redding's responsibilities in previous seasons, James will delegate some of his work to Andrea Stella, who will become the team's point of contact with the FIA at race weekends. Fernando Alonso's former number one mechanic, Kari Lammenranta, has moved up to chief mechanic, with Marc Cox replacing him.
The reshuffle comes just two months after Ron Dennis was ousted as team boss and replaced by new executive director Zak Brown, while Jost Capito's departure was confirmed this week after just five months as CEO. Despite such big changes on the eve of the 2017 season, Boullier is convinced McLaren goes into the season in good shape.
"I'm extremely enthused about what we've done [to replace Redding], and I think we'll now go into the new season feeling extremely confident that the new appointments we've made will properly establish themselves within a very short space of time," he told the team's official website. "What makes me really proud about all of this is that, when we understood that Dave would be leaving us, we were able to recruit entirely from within to replace and regroup.
"That not only tells you a lot about the strength in depth at McLaren, but it also indicates the very high esteem in which we regard our own people."
Boullier has no doubts James will excel in his new role, a view he says is shared across the team.
Explaining how James' new role will work, Boullier said: "I think it's fair to say that, as McLaren's chief mechanic, Paul is the best in Formula One -- and that's not merely my opinion, but that of many of my peers at McLaren who've had the opportunity to work up and down the pit-lane in many other teams, as I have of course. And I see no reason why Taffy -- as he's fondly called by everyone inside the team, Welshman that he is -- won't perform brilliantly in his new role.
"Paul's appointment has been received fantastically well throughout the entire organisation, because he's a McLaren man through and through, and we all know he'll do an excellent job. As team manager, he really will be called upon to manage the team. He'll be a strong leader, but he'll be able to jump in whenever and wherever is required. He's very popular with the drivers too, and he'll play a big role in guiding both Fernando and Stoffel [Vandoorne] through their race weekends.
"Paul's focus will really be on the race team. He'll drill the guys and make sure that we're operationally the slickest outfit in the pit-lane. Andrea will continue his senior role within race engineering, but he'll also expand it to look after the team's sporting relationship with the FIA.
"Owing to the length of Dave's McLaren career, his role has grown and expanded over a number of years. By the end of 2016, he was taking on a number of different responsibilities within that role, and we've decided to use this opportunity to load more evenly those duties among other members of the race team.
"So Andrea will become our chief point of contact for any interaction we have with the FIA during a race weekend, liaising with Charlie [Whiting] and his team of scrutineers and stewards to ensure compliance and fair play. Andrea is a clever, perceptive man, with a fearsome intellect and a really broad focus. I'd describe him as a very precise thinker."