PEOPLE: TIM DENSHAM
Name: Tim Densham
Nationality: Great Britain
Some designers like to stand out in a crowd but you could never accuse Tim Densham of that. He thrives in the shadows of Formula 1 and has done so since he joined Team Lotus as a design engineer in the 1980s.
A mechanical engineering graduate from Lancaster Polytechnic, Densham spent four years working for Rolls Royce Motors in Crewe after graduating with a BSc degree in 1975. As soon as he was free he applied to join Team Lotus - the top team at the time - and started working at Ketteringham Hall under the great Colin Chapman. He was always a designer but soon became a race engineer as well, running Elio de Angelis in 1984 and Johnny Dumfries the following year. He went on to work with Satoru Nakajima when the team landed Honda engines in 1986. Away from the race tracks he did a lot of testing work with Ayrton Senna and Nelson Piquet and eventually became assistant chief engineer in charge of Team Lotus research and development department.
Team Lotus, however, was in a slide and in 1990 Densham decided to move on and found a job with Brabham. He worked as a designer once again and engineered Stefano Modena in 1990 and Mark Blundell in 1991. When Sergio Rinland left the team at the end of 1991 Densham was named chief designer for the BT61 project but the team had no money and it closed down in the mid-season, the new car never having been built. At the end of that year Densham joined Tyrrell as a design engineer.
He was soon back on the racing team as engineer to Andrea de Cesaris, Mark Blundell (again) and Ukyo Katayama, who he engineered in 1995 and 1996. In 1997 he helped guide Jos Verstappen. At the start of 1998, however, Tim decided that he no longer wanted to do as much traveling as he had in the past and moved to the test team. In the mid-season he quietly left Tyrrell and soon afterwards began working at a secret design center in Leatherhead, Surrey, on the Honda F1 car. This was built by Dallara in Italy and ran for the first time in December with Jos Verstappen at the wheel.
The death of Harvey Postlethwaite in 1999 resulted in Honda canceling the program and Densham was recruited to be chief designer at Benetton. He led the team which designed the Benetton-Playlife B200 and remained with the team after it was taken over by Renault Sport and worked with Mike Gascoyne on the new generation Renault F1 cars.