Renowned South African race car designer and engineer Rory Byrne will rejoin Ferrari to help with the task of preparing the team’s 2014 challenger.
Byrne, 69, will play a consultancy role with Ferrari’s Formula 1 team providing “operational support” in the development of the 2014 racecar – a project that will require widespread changes to competing cars next year.
This year will see the last outing for the current crop of 2,4-litre V8 powerplants, which will be replaced by turbocharged 1,6-litre V6 units in a drive to improve efficiency. Having endured shaky starts in the last couple of seasons owing to reliability issues, Ferrari will be thrilled at having a designer of Byrne’s calibre overseeing what is essentially the most sweeping set of changes the sport has seen in the last decade or so.
Byrne officially retired in 2006 but was drafted back into Ferrari’s operations when the team experienced problems with its 2012 car. He has an enviable track record and is widely held in similar regard to the likes of such Formula 1 design greats as Red Bull’s Adrian Newey and another South Africa, ex-McLaren designer/engineer, Gordon Murray. In fact, between 1999 and 2006, either Byrne or Newey designed all of the championship-winning cars. Byrne’s résumé includes seven of Michael Schumacher’s championship-winning cars; two during his stint at Benetton and five at Ferrari.
Speaking to German motoring publication Auto Motor und Sport, Byrne was quoted as saying that he was working “full steam ahead” on Ferrari’s 2014 car.
As part of a team lead by chief designer Nikolas Tombazis, technical director Pat Fry and project co-ordinator Fabio Montecchi, Byrne will slot into Ferrari’s design team but will be acting purely as a contractor and will not hold an official title. Ferrari describes his involvement as “an extra pair of hands and eyes.”