Competition for Engineers
Engineering guru, Mike Gascoyne, moved into his new job as Chief Technology Officer at Spyker today. Gascoyne has worked for Tyrrell, Jordan, Renault and Toyota in the past and is regarded as one of the most talented engineers in F1. Autosport magazine has an interesting interview with him in which he makes it clear that goals for the team in the immediate future are realistic. The car for 2007 has already been designed and it will take perhaps six months for Gascoyne’s influence to be reflected in its performance.
The flurry of news reports of engineer’s movements from one team to another is indicative of how important the design of the car has become these days. Ross Brawn’s sabbatical is seen as nearly as significant for Ferrari as Michael Schumacher’s retirement and Adrian Newey’s employment by Red Bull Racing is taken as a pointer towards an improvement in that team’s performances in the future. The engineers have become stars while our backs were turned.
There can be no doubt that much of this is the result of Schumacher’s work at Ferrari. He was probably the first driver ever to have the stature to insist on specific personnel being added to the team and this has brought about a clearer understanding in other teams that success begins in the design office. It remains to be seen whether assembling a group of stars will result in the best car being designed – luck still has its part to play in these things and theory does not always work in practice.
Red Bull seem determined to have the best team of technical staff at any rate. With the news that they have succeeded in poaching Peter Prodromou, credited with Adrian Newey as being responsible for the excellent MP4-20 of 2005, from McLaren, their personnel list looks very impressive. In addition to Newey and Prodromou, Autosport magazine mentions other important members of the engineering staff:
Red Bull also has ex-Renault Mark Smith as technical director, ex-Renault Rob Marshall as chief designer and ex-Jaguar Racing Ben Agathangelou as senior aerodynamicist.
Red Bull sporting director Christian Horner said: “We now have some real technical strength in depth in our team, with a group of engineers that is one of the strongest in F1.”
Which looks like a winning team. But let us not forget that they have to be a team to win – if they can work together, complementing each other’s strengths, they should propel Red Bull to the front. But sometimes stars do not make good team members and it will take a strong personality (a role fulfilled by Schumacher at Ferrari) to pull them all together.
It will be interesting to watch Red Bull develop next season and see whether such a strong group of engineers can provide the drivers with a winning car. For David Coulthard’s sake, I hope they can.