PEOPLE: VINCENT GAILLARDOT
Name: Vincent Gaillardot
A mechanical engineer from the famous Ecole Superieure des Techniques Aeronautiques et Constructions Automobiles (ESTACA) at Levallois-Perret, just outside Paris, Gaillardot graduated in 1987 and was immediately hired by Hugues de Chaunac's successful ORECA team to be a race engineer in Formula 3 for the 1988 season. The team's drivers that year were rising stars Erik Comas and Philippe Gache and their Elf/Marlboro Dallara-Alfa 388s were highly-competitive.
Comas won four of the 11 French national championship races and the title. He then moved on to Formula 3000, taking Gaillardot with him to the newly-formed DAMS team. Comas and Eric Bernard used Elf-sponsored Lola-Mugen T89/50s and between them won three races, Comas surprising Bernard with two wins (Le Mans and Dijon) while Eric had to settle for a single victory at Jerez. Comas ended the year on equal points in the championship to Jean Alesi, but the Jordan driver had more wins and so won the title. Comas stayed on in F3000 to win the 1990 title, but Gaillardot had been spotted by Renault Sport and was hired for 1991. He was posted to Didcot, England, where he found himself working as the Renault track engineer for the Williams test team. Initially he engineered test driver Mark Blundell and later Damon Hill.
When Hill graduated to the Williams race team, Gaillardot was transferred back to France to work with Ligier as neither Blundell nor Martin Brundle spoke French. For 1994 Ligier regained its French flavor with Olivier Panis and Eric Bernard. At the end of the season, however, Renault dropped Ligier and began a new relationship with Benetton. Gaillardot was given the job of looking after Michael Schumacher's Renault V10 engines. The result was victory in the World Championship.
Gaillardot stayed with Renault Sport and Benetton in 1996, looking after Alesi's engines, but in 1997 moved to the TWR Arrows team to be Damon Hill's race engineer. This led to his promotion to the position of chief engineer in 1998. In 1999 he moved back to Paris to take up a similar position with Prost Grand Prixbut when the team went out of business in 2002 he spent a year with Jaguar Racing before moving at the start of 2003 to Toyota in Cologne. He has since returned to Renault F1 as a research and development engineer.