Raikkonen move triggers reshuffle of top Formula 1 engineers
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Sep 2013   |  7:25 pm GMT  |  215 comments

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.

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Massa should be in a strong position to get the Lotus seat, basically because he´s the only real experencied driver without a seat for 2014, comes from the Ferrari famili (including his years at Ferrari´s powered sauber), he was second in 2008 by a point and drove many many races, mastering turkey in example. Lostus is certainly going through difficult times and they are still negotiating with INFINITY to get the invenstment, so they got to have an experienced driver who can develop the car, HULK probably is one of the best newcomers, but the quesion is still out if he can develop a car, specially when we talk of a team not well funded. He has done a good job at sauber and given the right circunstances he will make a Brazil or Monza, but at the end of the day Lotus needs experience, technical knowledge, willing to work on simulator. Massa could also shine in Lotus feeling more free coming from playing 2nd driver in Ferrari, he will have to adapt to a new engineer and to a more radical team, but i think with the right management he will do the job for them and himself.


massa has had enough. he is married with a son and is no longer as hungry after 13 years of being paid millions.

let others have a go.

alonso hasn’t won a championship ever since he got married, he might have a chance now that he’s divorsed. massa is still married so he will not push the car to it’s limits fearing leaving a wife and a kid behind to enjoy his millions without him.


I don’t doubt the strong relationship between Dennis and Whitmarsh and the fact that everyone makes mistakes. I think in fact Whitmarsh is a good guy and has done a terrific job in FOTA and other aspects of F1. But he is too wish/ washy and full of politics himself at times. I find the way he handled Hamilton and Buttons situations was not really the sign of a good leader. The Honda deal must be a great feather in his cap. But signing someone like Sam Michael – (biggest waste of breath in the paddock) and loosing Hamilton and Lowe reeks of something not quite right in that team. Let alone the manner in which he negotiated with Hamilton last year. Maybe there is something else behind the scenes- decisions by committee- including Ron himself, etc, Either way Martin has not done anything to inspire great confidence certainly not when it was needed most.


hi elie, i agree with you about martin seeming wishy washy at times. i think that’s because he doesn’t make the decisions of who goes and who stays. he makes some minor decisions but the big ones are out of his hands. he wouldn’t have let hamilton go. even after hamilton left he said he would find it hard not to have a look through his visor as he sat on the grid the following year. he also had to be careful not to tell the world that he didn’t make the decisions after all ron is no longer meant to be dealing with the mclaren f1 racing team remember? ron dennis has known a lot of his employees on a personal level for a long time and some of them tend not to respect the management structure as much as they should simply because they can have direct access to dennis.

i don’t understand why sam michael was hired either but i have a feeling that the car button drives is not as bad as it has looked alll season. it is a lot better than the results show because i have seen it time and time again set fastest laps in the middle of races. it doesn’t look so good on low fuel or full tank but comes alive somewhere in the middle so it might need a defferent way of setting up to get better results at the extreme ends.

only if they simply let nature run it’s course.


Whoops !-intended for post 42- above replying Aveli


am not sure about smedly after watching this interview.



Hey James. I love this website and I really like the people who comment here and engaging with them. I am sure it is not easy to moderate but would it be possible to start a forum section for the website for discussion.

For example Massa just announced in a TV interview that for the rest of the season he will not support Alonso, that he will be fighting. It would be great to discuss these sorts of exciting developments.


I prefer to keep it as it is now, with discussions like this. We will increase the amount of content allowing more discussions


James, really great thread – nice to read sensible, well constructed posts as opposed to rather senseless driver slagging…


Let’s get Rob Smedley to do a SatNav voice over.


james ,of topic , but will the new engines be tested in an old (or any )chassis this year before the new cars are ready ?


Ron became older and it all relaxed…


I wonder if this aero structure is a wise move. At Red Bull it seems Newey is the one guiding voice, but Merc and Ferrari seem to have too many cooks.

Normally I wouldn’t be worried but both Merc and Ferrari seem very confused in this year’s development race. Almost like too many different ideas have manifested into a rather confusing package of upgrades.


How’s that?

Mercedes’s performance over the last few years has always fluctuated. This season is slightly more consistent with more poles than any other team.

Likewise, Ferrari since 2010 has had performance variances track to track.


Hi James,

A bit off topic, I was just thinking, a lot of people downplay Schumachers titles because of his surrounding environment i.e. best car, tyres etc. Just curious about Vettel and his world titles in ‘the best’ car, wonder if he thinks anything of it, wonder if it will make him definitely leave Red Bull at some point to enhance his legacy.

Just curious, penny for your thoughts James.


Vic, one thing I love about Vettel is he has never joined a team that could boast a race win. He has raced for three teams (he had one race for BMW Sauber) and won for two of them (you could argue Red Bull and Torro Rosso are one and the same, but I see them as two separate teams). He has a 28% win ratio and could have easily won 4 championships in 5 full seasons. He will probably win 4 championships in 6 full seasons. Now re-read what I have typed, as its phenomenal in the extreme.


As much as it pains me to say it, anyone who thinks that Vettel can only win in a Red Bull when it’s handed to him on a plate needs to be reminded every now and again that he won his first race in a Toro Rosso.

But yes, winning with a different team might quiet some of his critics.


A toro Rosso design which was the Newey designed Red Bull, except with a Ferrari engine.


True, the STR3 was probably even better than the RB4 at the time and it was a wet race which mixes things up, but it still showed a bit of talent on Vettel’s part.


I don’t think he’ll care if people undervalue the titles, because he is a part of making the car/driver package dominant.

But I can imagine him wanting to drive somewhere else in his career, because he started so young there is scope for that


I’m not really seeing the advantage to the massive line up of former Tech directors etc. All the car will end up being is something designed by committee which is never a good thing, everyone gets what no body wants! Designing becomes a “who can piss the highest” contest as everyone with well established egos tries to get their tuppence in. Red Bull and Newey seems like a one man party, and it works!


You make a very good point.

I’ve been wondering about this too, and am looking forward to next year’s Mercedes to see the proof of their raft of technical hires.

If egos are set aside perhaps teamwork could be created and it could work. But I’ve no idea of the personalities and their egos.


“Red Bull and Newey seems like a one man party”

There’s over 600 people working at RBR. If it seems like a one man party that’s a sign of poor news coverage.


Apologies that is not what I meant, there are obviously many people that work under Newey and I dare say do a lot of his work. But I get the impression that there is no doubt there that he is the gaffer and what he says goes. He is the chief and the rest are Indians. I feel what Mercedes and now Ferrari have created is the classic too many chiefs and not enough Indians.


I think Massa will end up at Sauber, as they will, hopefully, have Ferrari power next year and still be on the grid, and they are in desperate need of an experience driver. Ferrari would want to make sure that they do perform, and not let the Ferrari brand down. So in theory, given the service and the way that Ferrari allowed Massa to tell the world he was leaving, it is possible that they may help Sauber afford Massa, by paying some of his salary.

I am still surprised that Sauber don’t have a simulator, so moving Massa into the seat would be the only real smart option given his testing skill, which Alonso has hinted at, and prior to his leaving.

James : Would Pat Symonds have a say in bringing in Rob Smedley to the team. Who would have targeted him at Williams?

I feel a little sorry for Enstone, but looking back it happens all the time. The same things happen to Williams while they were on top, and their cars were the best of the field. Lots of key people left to join other teams, on much better pay, and bigger job title.

When Michael left Benetton, and a whole raft of talented people left with him, his race engineer at that time, a certain Pat Symonds stayed at Enstone.


I don’t see what good it would do Massa to join Sauber, unless he goes to Lotus which IMO looks unlikely he should bow out gracefully, I’m sure Ferrari will have plenty of cushy sports car numbers for him.

I too feel a bit sorry for Lotus, as you say it happened to them in 1996 when Schumacher left and then again when Alonso left (the whole crashgate thing didn’t exactly help). I was quite liking having them as another team in the mix for race wins, bit like the Jordan team in the late 90s. Hopefully they wont fall apart but I feel they need an experienced and fast senior driver to guide them, and hopefully they have a good chassis in the pipeline for next year. Shame what happened to Robert Kubica, had he still been around and in the team I think he would have been very strong for them.


He did start his career with Sauber, and stranger things have happened.


If you look at where Ferrari actually makes a shed load of money, is from their brand awareness and merchandise. They really need Sauber to perform to a certain level, thereby maintaining that brand image. Massa knows Ferrari and they know him.

There isn’t really anyone out there that has Ferrari engine knowledge, and is an experience driver. Jules Bianchi (24) was there test – third driver. He may fill the bill at Sauber, but needs to bring in some funds. But has he got the experience?

Given the way that Ferrari have looked after Massa, and allowed him to tell everyone he was leaving, where as they didn’t do the same to Michael or Kimi, does say a lot.

Massa is popular in Brazil, so yes he could bring in some money or a big sponsor to the team, but Brazil is not doing that well economically, so could be hard to justify such an investment


Are Ferrari trying to get rid of Alonso?


My! My ! So many pawns being rearranged to take on one Adrian Newey, and yet no one has made any difference in nearly half a decade ! Goes to vindicate Chris Horner’ words in the mid 2000s when he said “Given a choice between Schumacher and Adrian, i’d choose Adrian”. Also shows what Schumi& Ferrari were up against in the 90s and 2000s when they were fighting Newey designed Williams and Mclarens .


Newey’s cars did not win championships for about a decade until Vettel started driving them.

And Newey said on record: ” Vettel flatters my cars”.

The season Vettel goes somewhere else, Newey’s car won’t win a title. People are heavily underestimating Vettel and overestimating Newey’s abilities. Where was he for a decade?


Newey’s cars won 6 drivers championships and 6 constructors championships in the 1990s, how can you say it wasnt until Vettel came along that he started winning? Out of that decade he only designed 9 of the cars so a 6/9 hit rate is pretty damned good.

Even through his Mclaren tenure in the first part of the 00’s despite not winning any championships his cars still won several races and he designed what I consider to be the fastest F1 car in history the 2005 McLaren MP4-20. He then spent 3 unsuccessful years at Red Bull when the team were still finding their feet and getting the right people in the right places, he being one of these people.

As far as I am aware this years RB9 is still based on the same blueprints or concept as the RB5 from 2009, he hit an absolute winner with that chassis and has merely been refining it since then. I also recall reading somewhere that a lot of features on the RB5 were originally designed by him for the McLaren MP4-18 (I think) that never actually raced due to reliability issues.

All throughout his career Newey has pushed the envelope for F1 car design, only Rory Byrne, whoes cars have admittedly won more titles (7 drivers and constructors) over the period where they competed together, is close to him.


I said ‘winning championships’, not just ‘winning’.

From 2000 and 2009, no titles, zero, nada, zilch. That’s a decade. If he is so superior and such a genius, where was he during that decade? People claiming the cars he makes cannot be beaten, even a monkey can win a title in them, and that kind of malarkey?

It is a fact that the titles started coming in after Vettel started driving his cars and Newey himself admitted Vettel flatters his cars. Newey knows he needs a world class driver for his cars to get the title.

I am not saying Newey is a bad designer, he is clearly good, but he isn’t as good as people claim (see the decade of no titles). People underestimate Vettel though.


I’m sorry I disagree. Whilst at Williams, Newey worked under Patrick Head who was still the main man


James what´s happening with mclaren?? They lost Newey to RBR, Kimi to Ferrari, couldn´t manage Alonso vs Hamilton, lost Alonso, Fry, Hamilton, Neale. Are they a top team anymore? They are taking a big nap at Mclaren and when they wake up they will be struggling at the end of the pack.If the switch to Honda engines goes bad i really fear for them.


You forgot to mention Paddy Lowe.


Like all big teams ( incl Ferrari), Mclaren have lost their way and need to re- invent themselves. Because F1 moves so fast that creativity and cutting edge design can only only be capitalised on if you have the right people working for you at the right time. So many things have to come together for things to work.. When Mclaren had Newey their cars were brilliant – but the Mercedes engines often failed. When they had Alonso they played him off against Lewis and that failed.. because he was the wrong guy- evidenced by his willingness to blackmail them in the spygate scandal!.

Mclaren like Ferrari right now are lacking true leadership. The minute they hired Jenson Button- the team went backwards- they seemed to listen more to his “pleasant and mature words” more than they did- their last world champion who knew what it takes to get 100% out of a car. It’s very clear the politics at play in Mclaren since 2011 led Lewis to leave to Mercedes.. I predicted this move to Mercedes well before anybody. Jenson often struggles to get the car working properly- that was evidenced even the first half of 2012 .when they had a very good car.The only difference now at Ferrari is that they are returning their former WC and half his current crew for Lotus because despite Alonso great driving he has failed to move the team forward- which is perhaps what they expected of him- but not really his function- Team presidents and principals move the team forwards with the right drivers and technical people– drivers get the most out of the people around them.Right now Mclaren don’t have the right combination of drivers and technical greats to be dominating- but more importantly they lack leadership from Whitmarsh who’s leadership must surely be under question. He seemed genuinely shocked when he low Lewis when it was no shock to alot of people around Lewis..Whitmarsh casually referred to Raikkonen as ..” Likely to fail” to get a seat away from lotus .. Rather than making a genuine play himself.. If he thought they needed a top flight driver.. ( and they do!).Mclaren are still playing with their strong “Brand” as their saving grace.. But the reality is .. Strong leadership and doing whatever it takes to win will be their saving grace..They need to be perhaps more aggressive in their decisions rather than resting on the laurels and name to succeed.


I don’t remember the 2000-2004 Mclarens as brilliant


Hey HWS–no they weren’t were they- but Mclaren were still able to attract and keep good drivers. Which only adds to the question doesn’t it.. Now they are 4th ( and dropping to5 th) on top drivers shopping list aren’t they ?..It’s definitely taken them a while to “implode” but since 2011 & the team rather publically becoming Lovy dovy with Button–that was the benchmark or stupidity for me.


you may be right about strong leadership but i think whitmarsh demonstrated to ron dennis how capable and trustworthy he is over many years of them working closely together. whitmarsh is like a brother to dennis and he will not replace him. there isn’t anyone incapable of making mistakes. if only they let all the politics out of the window and let nature takes its course where the best people are allowed to occupy their rightful positions and compete to keep those positions instead of allowing people like phil prew to block others from progressing by trying to run both garages. this is just one example as i don’t know what else goes on in the rest of the company. what i know is that competition naturally brings out the best in people.


About leadership.

In the website f1bias.com are very nice article (Anthony Redina- The Dark Knight Return) about Kimis return to Ferrari and was heart-warming read that Kimi comes to leader in the silent way.

P.S. I think this article is obligatory to Kimis fans.


Dont forget paddy lowe!!!


Disapointed, would have loved to hear kimi and smedley on the radio “Kimi baby stay cool” “leave me alone I know what i’m doing”


James, personally would you prefer to see Hulkenberg or Massa to Lotus next year?


Hulk definitely

He deserves a chance at the big time

Massa has had plenty of chances


why does hulkenberg deserve a top drive? no one seems able to put a convincing argument together, at least, not here. all i hear are positive platitudes without any substance.

yes, lotus maybe looking at him, so what? i’m sure that they look at a whole lot of drivers. as a byline, my analysis is simply what i have read and seen, just like, i presume, everyone else here apart from james.

one fluke pole does not an ‘F1meister’ make. IMO of course. convince me otherwise.


Is the fact that the experts at Lotus rate him highly not enough to convince you that you may be wrong? What about the opinion of every F1 journalist and commentator who’s opinion I have seen or read, who all believe that Nico is a shoo in for the Lotus drive, and thoroughly deserves to get it, I guess to someone like you these people are just amateurs who lack your in depth knowledge of the sport.

There is no such thing as a “fluke” pole position in F1, no matter what the team had done with the tyres, Nico had to go out on a wet track and nail every braking zone apex and exit absoloutely perfectly. He did it, and did 2 laps in a Williams that were good enough for pole. This performance impressed everyone in the F1 paddock, as they understand just how difficult it is to do that. They were further impressed last year when he lead the Brazillian GP in a Force India, again in the wet. This year in a slow Sauber, all he can do is destroy his team mate, again the teams notice these things, they also look at all the quali laps and race laps set by all the drivers and use their years of experience to deduce who is doing a good job and who isn’t. This is why Hulkenberg is highly regarded in the pit lane, by people who really know what they are talking about, but like I said in my previous post, maybe they are all wrong and you are right.

The thing that irritated me the most about your ill informed previous post was the use of the word “certainly”, it really gets on my nerves when people on here present their own personal opinions as undisputed fact. If you had said “in my opinion Nico is nothing special” I wouldn’t have bothered replying to it, as in truth nobody knows yet if he is or he isn’t. What we can say is that he has shown flashes of brilliance in midfield cars that might translate into race or championship winning form in a front running car, or it might not. Either way nobody knows for certain.


james, why hulkenberg? why is it that so many people are bigging him up?

he certainly doesn’t seem to be anything out of the box, IMO. apart from his one ‘fluke’ pole in brazil what else is there for him to hang his hat on?

yes, he is a good driver…but certainly not anything special.


Certainly not anything special?! Why are you so certain of that? Is your opinion based on in depth analysis of Nico’s performances in F1? Or just what you have seen on the telly? The teams, of course, go down the ‘in depth analysis’ route, and Lotus would appear to think he is something special. Maybe you know better though, who would you go for instead?


You can’t be serious surely?

Tornillo Amarillo

Well said!


I don’t think Massa has really been given much chance against Alonso to be honest. He has been forced into carrying out the role of a number 2 driver ever since Germany 2010.


I think that his lack of pace (usually 0.5s behind ALO) made him number 2. Don’t you think???


A role he earned by being consistently slower than his teammate.


“Massa is on the list of potential drivers at Lotus, but sources suggest that Nico Hulkenberg has long been their fallback should Raikkonen leave.” Cash is king Sir! What would have Kimi preferred? Staying in a laid back team that pays his salary on time with car upgrades? Nico has been burnt in Sauber as well. Sauber had promised Nico glory but he hasn’t seen a salary payment for ages. F1 scored an own goal with the new turbo engines. Only the top four teams can afford them. The rest are surviving on the smell of an oily rag. Lotus is also on the ropes. They can’t afford the new power trains. Massa would have too bring in millions in sponsorship when he will most likely never get paid a salary. The other three teams have too do a Red Bull and buy a smaller, even a mid sized team. The only mid sized team to keep it’s head above water is Force India due too a billionaire, but he is also complaining. CVC and Bernie have screwed F1 in a royal way. Only eight drivers are getting paid at the moment the rest are pretending too or putting their hands in their pockets throwing Bernie their notes.


Sorry, but how do you know this! If you look at FI it certainly isn’t down to Mallaya. His Kingfisher airlines went bust. He had to sell a significant portion of United Breweries so not indicative of limitless wealth. Also he brought the Sahara Group into FI. I do though agree that it is becoming more difficult even for mid ranking teams to compete.


Hi james,

This is a bit off topic but I recently saw mark webbers old physio/trainer (the one when he broke his leg), it was interesting to hear some of his thoughts on how to beat jet lag and a brief overview of some training he got mark to do. I wondered if u would be able to do an article with an in depth look at the training drivers do pre season and during the season, how they prepare for hot humid weekends like singapore (im currently in malaysia and the humidity makes exercise in normal gym kit hard work)



Yes. We did that some time back and it’s in Podcast #2 from 2012, with Nick Harris


James why are the podcasts only 30 minutes, they are too good to be so short.

Great website James.


Thanks. Tell your friends!


Cue the musical chairs music…


Why has no one been raiding red bulls engineering department? I appreciate that Newey is the main man and is being paid handsomely but is not a one man team and there must be other talented people that could really strengthen anyone else’s engineering department.

I am still waiting for a job offer as well from any of the top teams. I’m good at making tea and coffee, top-notch at photocopying and even know how to turn on a computer. I’m ok a CFD but need a little more practice.


I think the answer is — do you want to work with Adrian Newey it someone else in F1??- pretty simple answer if your an aspiring engineer/ aerodynamicist


I’m sure they’ve tried.

RBR must be a nice place to be right now 🙂


Perhaps they are locked up with multi year contracts. And, why leave if you are member of a winning team while being payed accordingly.


Lotus’ CAD head is moving to maranello as well. can you confirm? His name is Jarrod Murphy.

No wonder Kimi ‘s leaving.


Yes. True.

But I read article of Leo Turrini, that ferrari ofered seat to Kimi allready summer of 2012.


Rob Smedley is one of my most inspirational people. A hero if you were. Will a shame to not hear his voice on my television anymore, but I give him my best in climbing the Formula 1 ladder. Good luck Rob!


Please let rob stay at Ferrari as kimis engineer, his radio calls trying to tell klmi how to drive will without doubt be one of the highlights of 2014


These would be the true fireworks from within the team. :^)


If Smedley’s move to Williams is confirmed, and if (and I realize this is a big IF) Massa could find some south-American cash, would Williams consider him as a safe pair of hands?


maybe it’s too little to late. for what it’s worth most experts predict that aero won’t be as significant an issue in car performance with the new regs.

the new regs re drivetrain management look mind boggingly complex.

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