Mike Gascoyne is back in an F1 paddock for the first time since he was dropped by Force India at the end of last season.
Gascoyne is working for the BBC this weekend in place of his former boss Eddie Jordan. Gascoyne has had a stop start career in recent years, sitting out after being dropped by Toyota at the start of 2006 until being picked up by Spyker in 2007 shortly before it was sold to Vijay Mallya and became Force India. He bought a large yacht in 2006 and did some fairly ambitious single-handed sailing voyages, but you could tell that he was desperate to go racing again.
Although an engineering manager and co-ordinator in the manner of Ross Brawn and a fierce one at that, Gascoyne is keen to get back into F1 and says that he would accept a role similar to the one Frank Dernie has at Toyota, where he is not the top dog, but is able to lend his experience and insights to the team.
Given that his particular area of expertise is aerodynamics and he has a great track record in sorting out cars which do not have enough downforce, he may well find a team making him an offer as they battle to come to accommodate the double decker diffuser into their designs.
“There are new regulations, and there are some teams struggling with the new aero rules which is an area where I have done very well in the past,” he is telling people in the paddock.
I’m sure Gascoyne will be a real hit with viewers this weekend. I encouraged him to help out on ITV with insights from the pit wall in recent years and he relished the task and added some great material to the show. Quite often he was making big strategy calls which he would tell us about and then we could see the effect of them in the race. It made for brilliant TV. The wet German GP of 2007 was the classic where his driver Winklehock, was 30 seconds ahead of the field early on because of a Gazza call to pit him for wet tyres early.
He is a great communicator and I’m sure he’ll add a lot to viewers’ understanding of what is going on.
Although his BBC stand in role has been planned for months, the timing couldn’t be better as the team has the unenviable task this weekend of explaining the diffuser decision and it’s ramifications and Gazza is just the man to sum it up in layman’s terms.