In past seasons, around this sort of time it’s traditional for speculation to begin about the possible driver moves in the summer. Who will be replacing Massa this year? Kobayashi is the name everyone is linking the drive this time around. Is Schumacher going to see out his third year of his three year contract or is the new ‘flying Scotsman’ Paul Di Resta going to replace the seven times world champion?
But this year there’s a lot more talk of moves within the technical departments of the teams than ever before. There are a few good reasons for this, this year. Firstly we have seen a Return of two controversial figures to the pit lane Pat Symonds and Mike Coughlan, both of which were banned for cheating (Carshgate and Spygate respectively).
Before the season even got underway we’d have all been forgiven for saying the heads should roll at Mclaren after arguably their worst pre season testing ever (I bet there was a few nervous people in the design and Technical departments) A woefully slow car that turned into a decent car over night in time for the Melbourne GP. As the season (finally) got under way it became painfully clear that Williams’s FW33 wasn’t living up to pre season promise despite the wondrous gear box and ‘tight rear end’. Four race’s later saw Technical Director Sam Michael and Chief Aerodynamicist Jon Tomlinson tender their resignations. Meanwhile over at Ferrari the pressure seems to be mounting on Stefano Domenicali (not that he’d ever let on) after another less the brilliant start to the season finally came to a head after the very embarrassing performance in Barcalona, in an attempt to save his own job (in my view) removed Aldo Costa from his position as Technical Director, promoting ex Mclaren man Pat Fry in his place.
The latest casualty in this mid season technical cull is the virtual king of car design Nick Writh, who has been given his marching orders from Virgin after a board meeting at the Monaco GP (incidentally the same circuit where his other foray into F1, Simtec came crashing down around him)!
So, who’s going where? Virgin seem to have had this in mind for some time as they have had Pat Symonds on board as a consultant since the beginning of the year. Both Sam Michael and Aldo Costa have been linked to work alongside Symonds. Williams moved fairly fast to secure the services of the returning Mike Coughlan as Chief engineer, working in tandem with SM and JT until the end of the year. As for Aldo, although he is no longer required by the F1 arm of Ferrari, it seem they also don’t want anyone else using his expertise by moving him to the road car division for the remainder of his contract (on full F1 pay) a sideways promotion that equates to gardening leave.
So with every position being filled is leaving another one vacant this jockeying for superior tech nous could run on late into the year….watch this space!