Top ten greatest Formula 1 designers (Part one)

Top ten

Guest writer Tim Ferrone chooses ten of the greatest Formula 1 designers of all time. Here’s the first five.

The role of the designer in Formula 1 has changed over the years, but it has always been vitally important.

In the early days of the world championship designers thought up entire cars from scratch – sometimes including the engine.

Today the top designers are one element in vast teams with considerable resources. But while the individual components of a car are subject to rigorous development by specialists of great expertise, there remains the need for a single designer who has the vision to decide on a development direction.

They are the king-makers. While the drivers command the most attention, it’s the designers give them their tools to get the job done in the first place. Here are ten of the greatest of them all.

10. Gerard Ducarouge

Ducarouge?s top flight career reached dizzying heights very quickly with the title winning Matra MS80 of 1969. Driven by Jackie Stewart, the car was one of the first to feature downforce-inducing wings with the purpose of increasing cornering speeds by using the passage of airflow to force the car down onto the circuit

He oversaw a hat trick of Le Mans wins prior to Matra?s withdrawal from motorsport. The company was bought out by Guy Ligier at the end of 1974, taking its designer with it. The new team hit the ground running, delivering its first win at Sweden in 1977.

The following year?s car, the JS9, was effectively designed as one giant wing. Its 1979 successor, the JS11, was a serious title contnder. Taking several early-season victories, it was only when Ferrari introduced the 312T4 chassis that Ligier fell behind in the development race and out of title contention.

After a brief spell at Alfa Romeo followed Ducarouge joined Lotus, and quickly turned around the fortunes of a team that was is disarray following the death of foudner Colin Chapman. Ducarouge’s much improved design began to restore the team to something approaching its former glory in the second half of 1983. His new 94T was, incredibly, turned around in just five weeks, and proved competitive from the outset.

The following season?s car was good enough for Elio de Angelis to end the year third behind the all-conquering McLaren drivers.

In 1985 the 97T was a regular contender for victory, particularly in the hands of Ayrton Senna. It featured another Ducarouge innovation, barge boards, designed to direct airflow more effectively around the car?s rear. It took eight pole positions but ultimately fell out of title contention through poor reliability.

Ayrton Senna, Lotus-Honda 99T, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 1987Much the same was true in the following two seasons. The 99T raced in 1987 was featured an early computer-controlled active suspension system.

It was relatively successful at smoothing out pitch and roll and maintaining the car?s consistent ride height, but suffered from extra weight which hampered performance. But Senna won around the slow Monaco and Detroit courses, giving the technology its first victories.

A disappointing campaign in 1988 saw Ducarouge return to his native France with the newly-formed Larrousse team, and eventually back to Ligier, but he was unable to make a significant difference to the respective team?s fortunes.

He eventually retired from the world of Formula 1 midway through the 1994 season, bringing to an end a successful career at the very pinnacle of Grand Prix racing.

9. Owen Maddock

Owen Maddock

Rear-engined racing cars had been seen long before Maddock’s Coopers of the late fifties – notably the pre-war Auto Unions.

But Maddock’s refinement of the concept marked a watershed moment in the sport. Very soon the rear-engined refuseniks – chief among them Enzo Ferrari – were forced to bow to the inevitable relocation of the motor behind the drivers. And it’s been that way ever since.

Maddock joined the newly-formed Cooper Car Company in 1948, starting out as a fitter. It became clear very quickly that his was a mind with much more to offer, and his role increasingly began to use his training as a draughtsman. It wasn?t long before his skills in this area were formally recognised with a permanent role as Cooper?s chief designer, encompassing the design of a vast array of sports cars and single seaters.

His first significant breakthrough came in 1954 when, with the encouragement of Charlie Cooper, he introduced bent chassis tubes throughout the car?s frame. This went against the thinking of the time – using curved tubes allowed the chassis to better match the shape of the car?s body, removing the need for additional supports and resulting in a much smaller and lighter end product.

But Maddock’s rear-engined cars were the game-changers. Stirling Moss took the first F1 victory for a rear-engined car at Argentina in 1958. His Cooper T43, which featured another Maddock hallmark, leaf-spring suspension.

Jack Brabham used the T51 and T53 to win the drivers’ championship in 1959 and 1960 while Cooper cleaned up in the constructors’ championship. The second season was a year of dominance for Cooper, the T53 enhanced by Maddock?s super-reliable C5S racing gearbox which addressed the previous car?s one major shortcoming.

However a change of engine regulations the following season, followed by the departure of Brabham, with whom Maddock had formed a brilliant developmental partnership, pitched the Cooper team into a slow decline from which it would never recover. Feeling trapped within the confines of the drawing office, and excited by the development of hovercraft technology, Maddock left top flight motorsport, albeit he continued to freelance for Bruce McLaren?s fledgling new team in the sixties.

Included here not just for his far-sighted capacity for design, but also for being the driving force behind the rear-engined revolution, there can be no doubting Maddock?s importance to the development of Formula 1, or his contribution to the success of a once great British motor racing institution.

8. Harvey Postlethwaite


Harvey Postlethwaite’s emergence as a top F1 designer began with the Hesketh team. Sporting unusual but efficient rubber spring suspension, his 308 beat the might of Ferrari and Niki Lauda to victory in the 1975 Dutch Grand Prix

A move to the Wolf team in 1977 saw his brand-new WR01 secure victory first time out, and eventually allowed Jody Scheckter to finish as runner up in the drivers’ championship (the single-car team was a distant fourth in the constructors’).

Following hot on the heels of Colin Chapman’s Lotus team, Postlethwaite was among the first to harness the potential of sliding skirts/ground effect with the 1978 Wolf. His next car, the WR7, featured a sleek monocoque construction that eliminated the weak joints of previous fabricated designs.

His progress brought him to the attention of Ferrari, whose aerodynamic shortcomings were increasingly holding the team back.

Postlethwaite’s first car for them, the 126C2, transformed the team’s fortunes. From finishing a lowly fifth in the constructors’ championship in 1981, the team won the title the title the following year.

Tragically, Gilles Villeneuve was killed driving the car at Zolder and team mate Didier Pironi suffered career-ending injuries at the Hockenheimring.

Although the team were constructors’ champions again in 1983, the new driver line-up of Rene Arnoux and Patrick Tambay fell short in the drivers’ title race.

More victories followed in the mid-eighties but Ferrari fell short of the standard set by McLaren and Williams. Postlethwaite returned to designing cars for smaller teams, joining Tyrrell.

Many of his design principles remain fundamental to modern F1 racing. His high-nosed Tyrell 019 literally changed the face of F1 cars, demonstrating the value of maximising airflow under the car.

Some of his most creative developments came when budgets were at their tightest, including hydrolink hydraulic passive suspension, the pneumatic semi-automatic gearbox and the infamous X wings – the latter originally crafted from surplus carbon fibre as a quick means of adding downforce in an area not proscribed by the rules.

Postelthwaite earns his place on this list bot just for his championship-winning years with Ferrari, but also his capacity to maximise often minimal resources.

7. Vittorio Jano

Vittorio Jano, the tragic of a master

Vittorio Jano was born before the turn of the 20th century and, like many drivers born around the same time, missed several years of competition due to the war years.

After the First World War he began working for Fiat. Alfa Romeo, seeking to use motor sport as a promotional platform for their production cars, were quick to sign him up. Tasked with creating a winning race car from scratch, Jano did just that. His P2 took victory in its first race, as well as winning at the Grand Prix of Europe in 1923.

He went on to design the first true single seater racing car, the P3 Monoposto, which also took victory first time out at the Italian Grand Prix of 1932. It was a pioneering design, light in weight, and allowed the driver to sit much lower in the cockpit due to the use of twin driveshafts to drive the rear wheels.

This was followed by a move to Lancia shortly after the death of Vicenzo Lancia in 1937. After the Second World War, Jano created the Lancia D50 which first raced in 1954

Lancia D50, 1955The D50 was another pioneering design. The light chassis featured an engine mounted at twelve degrees in order to reduce the frontal area of the car. This allowed the driver to be seated even lower.

It was the first car to use the engine as a partially-stressed member. Weight distribution was optimised by situating the fuel tanks were situated either side of the cockpit, in between the front and rear wheels. The car qualified a full second quicker than Juan Manuel Fangio’s hitherto all-conquering Mercedes on its debut in the 1954 season finale, but failed to finish the race.

The death of Alberto Ascari in the middle of 1955, and Lancia’s financial trouble, threatened to rob the car of its promised Grand Prix successes. But Ferrari purchased the cars for 1956 and it was raced to the title by Fangio, the team winning five of that year?s eight races.

Working alongside Carlo Chiti, Jano?s final championship came via the 1958 Ferrari 246, which proved to be the last front-engined car to win a Grand Prix, but more significantly was the first to feature a V6 engine. In fact, with much encouragement from Dino Ferrari, Jano was the key player in the development of Ferrari’s V6 and V8 engines.

Tragically, Jano took his own life in 1965 after falling seriously ill, and following the death of his son earlier that year. It was a sad end to the life of a man whose racing creations often enjoyed instant success.

6. Gordon Murray

Gordon MurrayAs is the case for several of the names on this list, Gordon Murray?s lifelong interest in vehicles and motorsport can be traced back to a little racing in the blood.

His father raced motorbikes and latterly had involvement in the preparation of racing cars in their native Durban, so it was a logical step when Gordon went on to study mechanical engineering at Natal Technical College. Initially a driver in the South African National Class, he actually built and raced his own IGM Ford car during 1967 and 1968, before moving to Britain in the hope that he could find employment with Lotus.

A chance meeting with Ron Tauranac led instead to an offer to join Brabham as a draughtsman. Within two years, the arrival of Bernie Ecclestone as team boss saw Murray promoted to the role of chief designer.

It was clear from the outset that Murray sought to gain advantage through innovation. The BT42 he designed for the 1973 season featured an extraordinary triangular cross section, and proved relatively successful. It also boosted Murray?s confidence in his own methodology.

This reluctance to follow the crowd was an approach that was to point the way for the rest of his career. Seeking a competitive edge, the thought process behind Murray?s free-thinking was simple; rather than approaching car design as having done it hundreds of times previously, it would be beneficial to approach from afresh, as if doing so for the first time. With that mindset, Murray was able to conceive new ideas, rather than follow perceived conventional wisdom.

The results of this approach were numerous, and often controversial. The BT46B of 1978 won the Swedish Grand Prix largely thanks to the enormous fan mounted at the car’s rear. Though it did have some cooling purposes its primary function was to suck the car to the ground, creating an even more powerful version of the ground effect pioneered by rivals Lotus. Devastatingly effective, as a ‘moveable aerodynamic part’ it was quickly deemed illegal and never raced again in the same form.

Concerned about increased cornering speeds, the 1981 regulations sought to outlaw ground effect by mandating a minimum 6cm gap between floor and car, and forbidding any driver operated aids to reduce the gap when the car was in motion.

It was Murray who spotted that the authorities could only measure the car when stationary, and that they would have to allow some degree of flexibility on this rule when the car was in motion due to the natural pitch and role experienced during cornering and breaking. He therefore devised an ingenious use of hydro-pneumatic suspension struts for each wheel. As the BT49C accelerated, hydraulic fluid was gradually pushed out of the struts, lowering the car ride height, recreating the ground effect the rule-makers had strived to ban. As the car decelerated at the end of a session or race, the fluid slowly returned into the struts, thus returning the car?s height to the regulated 6mm height.

It was a brilliant example of exploiting the wording of the regulations, rather than their actual intention, and helped deliver Nelson Piquet’s first world championship.

Murray also had a hand in improving electronically delivered information to drivers, carbon fibre brake discs, and even an air-jacking system that was built into the car, designed to accelerate tyre changes. In 1983 his devastatingly effective BT52 was produced in a hurry following the final banning of ground-effect, and took advantage of the rise of in-race refuelling to produce a compact and powerful car which made Piquet a champion again.

At times Murray’s radical thinking led him down the wrong path. The BT55 of 1986 was conceived with the aim of reducing frontal cross-section and getting as much clean airflow to the rear wing as possible. However its BMW engine could not be made to work in this ‘lowline’ configuration, and the car never reached its potential. Worse, Elio de Angelis lost his life in a crash while testing it at Paul Ricard in 1986.

McLaren-Honda MP4/4, 1988As Ecclestone’s interest in his Brabham team waned Murray moved to McLaren. Here he revived the lowline concept to devastating effect with the MP4-4. Perhaps the most dominant F1 car ever built, it won 15 wins from 16 races in 1988.

Drivers’ and constructors’ titles again followed in ?89, but Murray had grown bored and frustrated with the increasingly restrictive design regulations. Rather than risk losing him to another team, Ron Dennis instead sanctioned Murray?s pet project of designing the world?s quickest road-going super car, heading-up McLaren Cars.

The result was the ground-breaking and hugely admired McLaren F1, proving that Murray?s eye for design was as finely-tuned in the field of road going cars as much as in the competitive sporting environment. The car won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1995.

Murray continues to work in the field of road car development. His consultancy company Gordon Murray Design has created the light and compact T.25 city car.

The second part of this feature will be published on Monday. You can also follow Tim Ferrone on Twitter.

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79 comments on Top ten greatest Formula 1 designers (Part one)

  1. Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 15th June 2012, 9:19

    Here’s my question: Do Ross Brawn and Patrick Head count as designers?

    Anyway, I’m expecting to see Rory Byrne, Adrian Newey, and of course Colin Chapman in the Top 5.

    • Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 15th June 2012, 11:03

      I’m thinking Adrian Newey, Colin Chapman, John Barnard, Patrick Head and Ross Brawn (probably him over Rory Byrne, for the Brawn car as well as all the Ferraris and Benettons)

      • montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 15th June 2012, 13:42

        @bullfrog @journeyer Ross Brawn didn’t design the BGP-001 same as he didn’t design the Ferraris. He was the team principal. It was designed jointly by Jorg Zander and Loic Bigois. The Ferraris were designed by Byrne. There is a difference between technical leadership and actually designing the car.

        Patrick Head on the other hand definitely counts as designer as all the Williams cars prior to Newey arrival were designed by him, and then up to mid-90’s jointly by him and Newey who was officially the Chief Aerodynamicist.

        • Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 15th June 2012, 14:00

          Thanks for that @montreal95 – I was unsure who takes credit for the Ferraris. I’d still have Rory Byrne in my top 5 – but I may have missed a great designer from back in the day. Looking forward to part 2.

        • DaveW (@dmw) said on 15th June 2012, 22:38

          Brawn did the XJR-14. Obviously not an F1 car, but a ground-breaking, devastating race car nonetheless, at a time with Group C cars were beating F1 lap records. He gets a footnote in this story.

          • dkpioe said on 16th June 2012, 8:14

            which records did they break? i dont remember them being faster then f1 cars.

      • Eggry (@eggry) said on 15th June 2012, 13:54

        @Bullfrog I almost agree with you except Rory Byrne and Ross Brawn. Brawn is hardly a ‘designer’. I think Byrne is a designer but Brawn is a great director.

      • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 16th June 2012, 0:24

        @bullfrog I knew it I was missing someone. So drop Brawn for Barnard and you have your top 5. My guess on the order:

        5. Head
        4. Byrne
        3. Barnard
        2. Newey
        1. Chapman

    • xeroxpt (@) said on 15th June 2012, 15:30

      and engine designers I can see the DFV creator on the top 5.

    • Becky Soto (@lady3jane53) said on 18th June 2012, 12:56

      Colin Chapman is at the top of my list :-)

  2. Pinball (@pinball) said on 15th June 2012, 9:29

    Fantastic article. Cannot wait for the next part. Does anyone know how much these superstar designers are worth relative to the drivers? In my mind they are worth more than drivers.

    • Gillis said on 16th June 2012, 0:13

      I read somewhere the Newey pulls in around 10 million a year. Not sure if thats in $ or £.

  3. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 15th June 2012, 9:35

    I’m expecting Newey will be number one, but I’m kind of hoping he isn’t. Yes, he designs some fantastic racing cars, like the Red Bull RB7, but he’s also made some cars that were so poor that his team never actually raced them – like the McLaren MP4-18, which failed multiple crash tests, crashed during testing for reasons that the team was never able to figure out, and was generally so bad that McLaren drafted Mike Coughlan in to update the MP4-17 for the 2003 season in its place. Sure, Eddie Jordan described the MP4-24 as the worst car McLaren had ever built, but the MP4-18 was so bad that McLaren never raced it.

    I’m not denying that Newey is a great designer, but I hardly think he can reasonably be called the greatest designer of all time when he has a car like the MP4-18 on his resume.

    • dkpioe said on 15th June 2012, 10:28

      the mp4-18 was bad, but would still be good enough for 3rd/4th and the mp4-17 was still a car capable of winning races in its D form, 2 years after it was created, also the 18 still worked as a test car for the coming 19. he was pushing the boundaries, and your not always going to make a winner, but his record is better then anyone elses in f1, so he is the greatest designer in f1. your nitpicking to deny him because of one car, which was still better then more then half the cars on the grid anyway. also heaps of f1 cars fail crash tests, because they are built to the limit.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 15th June 2012, 10:37

        his record is better then anyone elses in f1, so he is the greatest designer in f1

        I disagree. Colin Chapman deserves that honour.

        your nitpicking to deny him because of one car, which was still better then more then half the cars on the grid anyway

        If it was “still better then more then half the cars on the grid”, then why did McLaren choose not to race the 18 at all? Why did they call Mike Coughlan in to redevelop the 17 for the season instead?

        • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 15th June 2012, 16:44

          Becaue it failed the crash test

        • matt90 (@matt90) said on 15th June 2012, 16:58

          Lotus had some flops too don’t forget.

          • GeeMac (@geemac) said on 16th June 2012, 21:02

            Exactly. The 80, 81 and 87 spring to mind as poor Chapman Lotii. His pursuit of mental pet projects like the gas turbine 56 and the twin chassis 88

        • dkpioe said on 17th June 2012, 16:41

          the 17 was a good enough car to continue developing which kept them in the top 3,but the mp4-18 would still have been 3rd or 4th, they weighed it up, and thought that the 17 was going well enough, and used the 18 as a test towards 19 which proved quick. its not like the 18 was a minardi, sure it failed a crash test, but many cars do, the team would have then made the necessary fixes and tested it again, but didnt do more crash tests later because they abandoned it for racing.

      • Gillis said on 16th June 2012, 0:17

        He’s had successful cars with more teams than anyone else. Grand totals aside, that’s pretty impressive.

    • Slr (@slr) said on 15th June 2012, 10:32

      Eddie Jordan described the MP4-24 as the worst car McLaren had ever built

      I think Eddie Jordan just says things just to make certain situations sound worse than they really are, when Eddie said that comment, I immediately thought about the MP4-19.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 15th June 2012, 10:34

        He was right, in a sense – the 24 was an horrendous car. In the space of about three races, it was obvious that Hamilton wasn’t going to be able to defend his title.

        • matt90 (@matt90) said on 15th June 2012, 12:39

          For those first races it was possibly the worst car McLaren has raced (despite that it should have got a podium in Aus), but considering it won 2 (or was it 3?) races and was generally very competitive, McLaren have definitely made worse cars in their time.

        • dkpioe said on 17th June 2012, 16:42

          it just took them a long time to optimise the car, the general package was good, hence why it won races later in the year.

    • coefficient (@coefficient) said on 15th June 2012, 12:30

      This is a naïve comment. The MP4 18 was a bold experiment to usher in a step change in F1 design and technology. Something had to be done to bridge the yawning performance chasm to Ferrari. MP4 18 was specifically designed to the extreme knowing it would fail so that the problems associated with the extreme nature of the car could be identified, studied and overcome.

      The team knew perfectly well why the car was failing but the technology didn’t exist to overcome the problems at the time. Having created these problems forced an R&D route into existence which enabled the team to find ways of making a car like the 18 feasible.

      The 18 was extremely quick but fragile. It was supremely light but the carbon fibre laying up technique was ahead of its time and needed refining, hence the tub would crack after half a dozen laps. Also, new bonding techniques were developed but as with the carbon fibre, needed refining and so bits broke off at speed. The packaging was extremely tight so overheating and burning were also issues but the team wanted to learn form this car and learn they did.

      You only need to look at the dimensions of the car to realise how ahead of its time it was. In terms of size, it’s comparable to a car of today and that’s with the old 3 litre V10 shoe horned in. In fact, you can still clearly see vestiges of the 18 in the 27 many years later.

      In the old “money no object” days of Formula1 this is precisely the sort of avenue of research I would expect a true visionary to go down and Newey was the only guy that did it. The guy us a legend!

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th June 2012, 3:34

        This is a naïve comment. The MP4 18 was a bold experiment to usher in a step change in F1 design and technology.

        It’s all well and good being visionary, but it’s a poor reflection when your visionary project is so bad that it can’t be used for what it was originally intended for.

        Every single argument you have made in favour of the MP4-18 can be countered by “Yes, but McLaren never raced it”. So all the visionaryism that went into the car amounted to nothing. Its revolutionary approach was only matched by its abject failure. Racing cars are made to be raced. If a racing car is not raced, then it has failed its primary function, and praising its design concept does nothing to change that.

        • dkpioe said on 17th June 2012, 16:52

          you are missing what he is saying. mclaren needed to bridge the gap to the top, so they sacrificed not racing the car to bridge that gap, and what does it matter, they turned up at every gp that year with a damn good car. your argument would be stronger, if mclaren HAD raced the 18, and had failed in every race. if you judge the designer on the cars that were raced, then the mp-17d was a brilliant adrian newey car. and the 18 was a good design too, as it led the way forward towards future designs

          • NDINYO (@ndinyo) said on 18th June 2012, 12:52

            okay, confused here … McLaren needed to bridge a gap to Rory’s cars by making a lousy car to experiment on? Seriously people, start making some sense …

        • coefficient (@coefficient) said on 18th June 2012, 13:06

          They never intended to race the 18. They pretended they were going to but that was just to placate all those people that would accuse them of being wasteful. It was a test mule and nothing more.

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 15th June 2012, 14:17

      So what if the MP4-18 was bad? he designed way too many brilliant cars to make that up. You cannot hit the jackpot every single time. Plus, they said it was a revolutionary car… in the same way Colin Chapman failed many of his designs.

      I seriously can’t understand what you’re saying, @prisoner-monkeys As an engineering point of view, Newey is just exceptional. I’m not sure he deserves no. 1 (I think Chapman is the greatest), but surely not because of the reasons you listed.

      • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 16th June 2012, 12:40

        @fer-no65 – I agree, the Newey & Head pairing dominated the 90’s; one uncompetitive and badly designed Mclaren can hardly undo his championship winning creations such as the RB6/7, FW14 & the MP4-13.
        I don’t believe he could beat Chapman though, Lotus and Chapman were one of the most dominant combinations in the history of F1.

    • egsgeg said on 16th June 2012, 12:55

      Chapman was great, no doubt. But the level of competition back then was amateur at best.

      • dkpioe said on 17th June 2012, 16:55

        thats a point that needs to be considered for the top 5, the level is so much higher now, which makes neweys accomplishments higher for me.

    • Adrian J (@adrian-j) said on 18th June 2012, 9:18

      I’ve always wondered whether (if they had been able to under the rules) McLaren wouldn’t have opted to update the MP4-23 for the start of the 2009 season…

      The change in rules meant that this was not an option, otherwise that car might have suffered the same fate as the MP4-18…

  4. runforitscooby (@runforitscooby) said on 15th June 2012, 9:44

    I know things change but I just miss those much simpler forms in F1 cars, no garish wings, winglets and appendages.

  5. Lustigson (@lustigson) said on 15th June 2012, 10:19

    This looks like a great article. I stuck it into Instapaper for later reading.

    I’m wondering whether Adrian Newey will be number 1 as well. I’ve always found that Rory Byrne’s cars gave Newey’s designs a good run for their money.

    In fact, prior to Red Bull’s rise to the top, Byrne’s designs had actually accumulated (OTOH) more wins, poles and points than Newey’s.

    • DMC (@dmc) said on 16th June 2012, 18:15

      I agree, i think that newey pushed the envelope more though and as a result designed some fragile cars. Byrne seemed brilliant at evolving a design year on year. Although i rememer reading an interview in which he stated “if i cant design a decent car with the tools i have at ferrari i need my a**e kicking”.

    • NDINYO (@ndinyo) said on 18th June 2012, 12:57

      My point exactly .. i think there is only two years Newey won against Rory – for the rest of his time at McLaren, Rory trully and properly kicked his ****.

      • coefficient (@coefficient) said on 18th June 2012, 13:16

        To be fair, Newey’s wings were clipped at Mclaren. He often bemoaned the culture at Mclaren for being too conservative and that’s why Ron Dennis offering him driver wages to stay couldn’t keep him from leaving once he’d been promised a mega budget and total control by Red Bull.

  6. necrodethmortem (@necrodethmortem) said on 15th June 2012, 10:20

    I hope to see Rudolf Uhlenhaut in the Top 5. Yes, a lot of his credentials predate F1, but the W196 was instantly dominant. How many designers have ever accomplished that? And he also managed to beat Fangio at times.

  7. Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 15th June 2012, 10:45

    Great concept for an article. Some of the unsung heroes of F1, these guys.

    John Barnard for the top 5? Pioneer of the semi-automatic gearbox and, of course, carbon-fibre chassis.

  8. leadfoot (@leadfoot) said on 15th June 2012, 10:49

    I’m wondering if Jack Brabham is going to make an appearance.

    • Drop Valencia! said on 15th June 2012, 15:39

      I see Maddock was given credit for the rear engine format, but he only put the engine in the back in lower formula series to reduce the length of the chain to the rear axle, it was a minor efficiency gain, it was Brabham while working as a designer/mechanic/driver at Cooper that insisted that it gave superior balance, and better packaging to boot. Not only was he the brainchild of this major F1 design shift (second only to aerofoils and ground effect imho), he also oversaw the development of the Repco V8, an F1 engine that won WCC on debut in 66-67, beating Fords Cosworth engine in 67, he had a breadth of design influence matched by few. If only he had invented the timing belt aswell, the Repco V8 would have likely displaced the DFV as the engine of choice for 25+ years!

  9. Dan Brown (@danbrown180) said on 15th June 2012, 11:17

    I’d give an honourable mention to Gary Anderson, just for the Jordan 191

  10. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 15th June 2012, 11:56

    It is often said that a fast car is a beautiful car, and that MP4-4 sure was both.

  11. Fixy (@fixy) said on 15th June 2012, 12:26

    I am becoming more and more a fan of this aspect of F1, and this article gave me good information on some key-figures of car design, so thanks!

  12. melkurion (@melkurion) said on 15th June 2012, 12:29

    1) Collin Chapman
    2) Adrian Newey
    3) Rory Bryne
    4) John Barnard
    5) Patrick Head

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 15th June 2012, 13:57

      I think this is the answer.

    • Mads (@mads) said on 15th June 2012, 15:54

      @melkurion Was Patric Head the designer? I always through he was the Technical director, like Ross Brawn was at Benneton and Ferrari.

      • melkurion (@melkurion) said on 15th June 2012, 20:12

        LAter years yes, but when he first came on, he designed the cars, I think from the first championship winning car through the honda powered ones in the mid 80’s up till the early 90’s it was mostly head, Newey didn;’t come to williams until after he disigned that March Capelli I think drove in , in…1991? so I think the active suspension cars that took prost and mansell to their titels were Head’s too

        • TimG (@timg) said on 16th June 2012, 9:42

          Newey joined Williams in 1990 having been fired by Leyton House in the middle of the year – just before Capeli’s astonishing drive at that year’s French GP – and had a big impact at Williams almost immediately.

          Head stepped into the role of technical director when Newey arrived as chief designer. Newey came up with the concepts and specifications of the Williams FW14 for 1991 but Head played a crucial role in getting the right engineering in place to actually make it work. To see Newey’s influence compare FW14 with its immediate predecessor – there’s no real link, but it looks like an obvious evolution of the Leyton House CG90.

          The seeds of Williams’ dominance in the 1990s – including the Mansell and Prost cars – were the result of a Head/Newey double act. Remove either man from the equation and the Williams of the period simply wouldn’t have been as good.

  13. timi (@timi) said on 15th June 2012, 13:43

    I think I’ve got a pretty good idea who’s going to be number 1 and number 2

  14. montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 15th June 2012, 13:55

    Great article!

    The top 3 are clear in my view:

    2) Newey
    3) Byrne

    Then it’s 2 of 3 from Head/ Forghieri / Barnard. My only criticism of this list is that one of those won’t be included at all in the top 10

  15. BasCB (@bascb) said on 15th June 2012, 14:35

    Actually I would have thought Murray to make it into the top 5 as well.

    Really great top ten so far, thanks Tim.

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