Ferrari has confirmed that it has hired veteran designer Rory Byrne, architect of the winning Benetton and Ferrari cars of the Michael Schumacher era, to work on its next F1 car, which will be to 2014 turbo rules.
La Gazetta Sportiva says that Byrne, 69, was spotted at the F1 launch this year and told a German journalist his plans. Quizzed on this, the team has now confirmed the signing.
Byrne retired from F1 and moved to Thailand a few years ago to run a scuba diving centre, but has maintained strong links with Ferrari.
There is a very specific reason why Byrne’s presence as an experienced “consultant” on the 2014 project makes sense:
“The new turbo engines represent a great opportunity for teams like Mercedes and Ferrari that can integrate the work of the engine builders with their chassis colleagues,” said Byrne’s former technical partner Ross Brawn recently. “The others will have to adapt their projects to those of the engine supplier.”
Of the other teams, Red Bull could also be considered a “works” team with engine supplier Renault. In fact that very word was used when the team renewed its supply deal last year. With Infiniti, part of the Nissan/Renault family coming on board as a title partner now, the integration is very close for the next generation of F1 designs.
With Ferrari having split responsibility for F1 design into two groups, between Simone Resta, who is behind this year’s car and Fabio Montecchi, who will lead the 2014 project, Byrne will assist their boss Nicolas Tombazis to take the whole project in the right direction.
Byrne’s cars have won 99 Grands Prix, mostly in the hands of Schumacher, so there is some unfinished business for him.