In the wake of Kimi Raikkonen signing for Ferrari there is quite a shuffle of senior engineers taking place, with new Ferrari technical director James Allison raiding his former Lotus F1 team for head of aerodynamics Dirk de Beer.
Lotus has engineering talent in depth and can promote from within, but to lose Allison, de Beer and Raikkonen will hurt them going into 2014. They have hired Nicholas Hennel from Ferrari and may well be on the look out now for some senior engineers with new ideas.
Ferrari is emulating Mercedes, which has a plethora of former technical directors; Ross Brawn, Paddy Lowe, Aldo Costa, Geoff Willis and Bob Bell.
Ferrari now has four former heads of aerodynamics, showing where it feels its priorities lay. Nick Tombazis has been there some time and was previously at McLaren; Ben Agathangelou was at Jaguar and Red Bull; Loic Bigois was at Brawn and Mercedes.
Like Mercedes, Ferrari has them all in specific roles, but it shows that the continuing dominance of Red Bull has led their main rivals to take up an engineer arms race. It is tough for teams like Lotus to compete. McLaren needs to be careful with its engineering structure, which arguably lacks firepower now in comparison.
Meanwhile Williams is very active at the moment, despite six monthly financial results which show a small downward trend in turnover. The team is set to announce several interesting appointments, according to Alex Wurz, whose influence at the team has grown since Toto Wolff moved across to Mercedes – and needed not to be seen to have direct influence at Williams any more.
Jakob Andreasson is one; he was most recently in a senior operations role at Force India, but before that was engineer to Jenson Button at McLaren. His new role is believed to be non-travelling.
But there are suggestions that another could be the charismatic Rob Smedley (main picture), the mentor as well as engineer of Felipe Massa. With Massa’s career at Ferrari set to end in November, Smedley is rumoured to be considering a return to the UK to take up a senior operational engineering role with the Grove based team.
Massa is on the list of potential drivers at Lotus, but sources suggest that Nico Hulkenberg has long been their fallback should Raikkonen leave.
Smedley previously worked at Williams’ touring car team as well as Jordan F1 team before moving to Ferrari. Although unconventional in some areas, he is very highly regarded in the pit lane.