PEOPLE: JOHN BARNARD
Name: John Barnard
Nationality: Great Britain
Unlike many of his rivals John Barnard did not have a lengthy academic career. He gained a diploma from the Watford College of Technology and then began doing industrial design work for GEC, designing machines for making light bulbs. In his spare time he tinkered with an Austin Healey Sprite with a souped-up engine.
In 1968 he applied for a job with Lola as a junior designer. He was hired and he began by designing for Formula Vee and SuperVee and working on the teams which designed some of Lola's classic sportscars including the T260 CanAm car, the T280 and the T290 sportscars. One of his contemporaries at Lola was Patrick Head and the two became friends.
In mid 1975 Barnard was hired by Parnelli Jones and asked to design a Formula 1 car. The American decided to quit F1 not long afterwards and so Barnard drew the Parnelli VPJ6 Indycar instead. This led to an approach from Jim Hall who asked Barnard to draw an Indycar for him and, working in the front room of his father's house in Wembley, Barnard designed the Chaparral 2K with which Johnny Rutherford won the 1980 Indy 500 and the Indycar title.
The success of the Chaparral 2K drew Barnard to the attention of Ron Dennis of the Project 4 team. Dennis agreed to underwrite the design and construction of a revolutionary Grand Prix car which would be made entirely of composite material. When Project 4 took over McLaren this car became the McLaren MP4/1, on which was based an entire family of successful F1 McLarens in the mid-1980s. Courted by Ferrari in 1987, Barnard was able to dictate his terms to the Italian company - he was given $2 million and his own design center - Ferrari Guildford Technical Office - in England. It was from here that he masterminded his next technical breakthrough - the semi-automatic gearbox. Soon afterwards he was lured to Benetton and established the Benetton Advanced Research Group at Godalming and designed the B191, which formed the basis for the 1994 World Championship-winning B194.
After falling out with the Benetton management over money, Barnard worked on a secret Toyota F1 design for the TOMS company but when that plan failed to get off the ground Ferrari offered him his own design office once again and so he went back to working for the famous Italian team at a new design office called Ferrari Design and Development at Shalford, Surrey.
At the end of the deal in mid 1997 Barnard bought FDD from Ferrari and established B3 Technologies. Barnard then signed a deal to work for Arrows. That deal turned sour in the middle of 1998 with Barnard and Tom Walkinshaw in dispute over money and the fact that B3 Technologies was doing subcontract work for Prost Grand Prix. The dispute was settled in December 1998 and Barnard signed an agreement to work as a technical consultant to Prost in 1999 while continuing to run B3 Technoloies. After Prost closed down Barnard decided to try his hand at motorcycle racing and at the start of 2003 became technical director of Kenny Roberts's MotoGP team.