PEOPLE: LEO RESS

Name: Leo Ress
Nationality: Germany

After studying at the well known Rheinisch-Westfalische Technishe Hochschule in Aachen - one of Germany's top engineering schools - Ress went to work as an engineer with the Mercedes-Benz car company in Stuttgart in 1979. Three years later he moved to BMW in Munich. This led to an casual involvement in the BMW customer sportscar programs of that era, including Peter Sauber's Sauber-BMW C7 at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1983. Although Sauber soon began a relationship with Mercedes-benz he did not forget Ress and in 1985 hired him to design the Sauber-Mercedes C8. At the end of that year Sauber found backing from perfume company Kouros and Mike Thackwell and Henri Pescarolo won the Nurburgring 1000 driving one of the cars. The success lured Mercedes back to motorsport and by 1988 the team was in effect a Mercedes factory operation with sponsorship from Mercedes-Benz-owned AEG. Jean-Louis Schlesser and Mauro Baldi won the opening round of the series and there were four further victories at the end of the year which took Schlesser to second place in the series.

In 1989 the cars became official Mercedes-Benz entries and were painted silver. The team won seven of the eight rounds of the World Championship, won both titles and scored a 1-2 finish in the Le Mans 24 Hours. The 1990 season was another success with eight wins in nine races and twin titles again. At the same time Mercedes ran a car for young German drivers Michael Schumacher, Karl Wendlinger and Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

There were plans for Sauber and Mercedes to enter F1 together and Harvey Postlethwaite was hired to be technical director with Ress reporting to him. It was Leo who designed the Sauber prototype F1 car - the C12 - with input from Postlethwaite and a young Mike Gascoyne. Postlethwaite departed after Mercedes-Benz decided against an overt involvement and he was followed as technical director by Steve Nichols and then by Andre de Cortanze. The Frenchman departed at the end of 1995 but it was not until February 1998 that Ress was finally given the title of technical director.

Ress remained technical director until the early part of 2000 when he was replaced by Willi Rampf but he stayed at Sauber as a designer until he departed at the end of 2002.He moved on to work as a consultant to the Honda F1 programme.

Print