Pat Fry, chief engineer at McLaren, has left the Woking based F1 team after 17 years. He was the lead designer of last year’s MP4-24 race car and is in charge of the 2011 MP4-26 challenger. According to team principal Martin Whitmarsh Fry will be replaced by someone “younger” and “hungrier”.

Fry started his career with Benetton in 1987 and worked as a race engineer and test team engineer till 1992 before a move to McLaren in 1993. At Mclaren, he moved to engineering in 1995 and was instated as the chief engineer alongside Tim Goss in 2002. Both alternate as lead designers – Goss is in charge of this year’s car, which has powered championship leader Jenson Button to two race wins so far this season.

“I think it was probably good for him, the right decision for him to take a bit of a break, take a breather. I think he’s worked very hard for the team for a number of years. Within our team, then, I think we’ve got quite a bit of a talent and depth, so in these situations it’s a great opportunity for someone younger, maybe hungrier, to come along and replace all of us,” Whitmarsh was quoted as saying.