PEOPLE: JAMES ROBINSON
Name: James Robinson
Nationality: Great Britain
A mechanical engineering graduate from Leeds University in the north of England, Robinson worked at David Brown Industries in Yorkshire before he found a job as a design engineer at Williams in 1984. A specialist in computer-aided design - which was new at the time - Robinson was hired by Patrick Head to help fill the gap left at Williams when Neil Oatley and Ross Brawn left to join Carl Haas's FORCE team.
Robinson was quickly promoted to the job of being a race engineer and in 1987 he engineered Nelson Piquet in the battle to the World Championship against Piquet's team mate Nigel Mansell and his engineer David Brown. When Piquet moved to Lotus Robinson became Riccardo Patrese's engineer for the 1988 season. It was a depressing season for Williams - which had to use Judd V8 engines after Honda had joined McLaren - and early in 1989 Robinson was offered the job of being chief engineer at Arrows, working alongside technical director Brawn, who had gone to Arrows after FORCE shut down in 1986. It was a time of optimism with the team opening its $10m technical center at Milton Keynes but the results were disappointing and sponsor USF&G pulled out of F1, drivers Derek Warwick and Eddie Cheever quit the team and Brawn took the offer of a job as technical director of TWR's Jaguar sportscar program.
Reeling from the defections, Arrows bosses Jackie Oliver and Alan Rees gave Robinson the job of revising the A11. The budget was small and the announcement that Arrows had been bought by Footwork and would have Porsche engines in 1991 came too late to help Robinson. The A11B was disappointing and in June - with Footwork money pouring in - Arrows hired Alan Jenkins to be its technical director.
Robinson left Arrows and went to work at McLaren as race engineer to Ayrton Senna for 1991. In 1992 he stopped traveling to the races and worked at the McLaren factory, transferring to the McLaren sportscar program.
In March 1996 he went back to Williams to be senior operations engineer and remained in that role until the summer of 2000 when he departed to take on a similar role at British American Racing.