PEOPLE: IAN THOMSON
Name: Ian Thomson
Nationality: Great Britain
The son of the company secretary of Jensen Cars, Thomson grew up in Leominister in Herefordshire. His passion for motorsport came early while accompanying his father to race meetings around Britain. When he left school he went to work at the Bulmer's cider company in order to fund an industrial design degree at Coventry University. This led to a six month placement at Williams in the summer of 1980, the period in which the team was in the process of winning its first World Championship title. After graduating he got a job as a tyre engineer with Dunlop Motorsport in Birmingham, working in sports cars and touring car racing before joining Williams as a composite technician in 1982 to work with Brian O'Rourke, who had been recruited from Northrop to develop the team's first composite cars. Thomson stayed with Williams until October 1987 and then moved to March's composite offshoot Comtec as a project engineer, working on the different March projects, including the first March-built CART cars and the March 88G sports car. In July 1988 he was hired by John Barnard to work as design engineer at Ferrari's Guildford Technical Office and he worked with Barnard on the groundbreaking Ferrari 639 chassis. After Barnard departed in 1990 Thomson became a senior designer and stayed there until approached by Sauber, which was recruiting for its planned F1 programme. He joined the Swiss team in January 1991 as head of composites and initially worked on Sauber's C11 and C291 sportscar programmes before moving on to the C12 Formula 1 prototype with Harvey Postlethwaite. Thomson stayed with Sauber until May 2001 when he decided to join Prost Grand Prix to work with Henri Durand and chief designer Jean-Paul Gousset on the design of the AP05. Unfortunately this was never built because of lack of funding and, having turned down a job at Ferrari, he moved back to Britain in April 2002 to head the composite design team at Asiatech in Didcot. After a spell building the LRS three-seater F1 for Laurent Redon, Thomson joined Renault F1 for a short period before being hired by Dallara to work on the planned Midland F1 car and after that project was cancelled he became principal composite engineer for the new Super Aguri F1 team.
Thomson continues to be an ardent race fan, visiting club meetings whenever he has time while also being something of an artist when time permits. A painting of his of the Williams FW08C sold several hundred copies in the 1980s.