Honda website
Honda website

NOVEMBER 20, 2000

Kimball for Jaguar?

OUR spies in the United States of America are suggesting that Jaguar Racing could be on the verge of giving Formula 1 a big surprise by naming 48-year-old Californian engineer Gordon Kimball as its new technical director. The team is currently under the technical control of Ulsterman Gary Anderson but there have been rumors in recent weeks that Anderson is on the way out as part of the revamping of the management under new chief executive Bobby Rahal. The American has already hired US-based aerodynamicist Mark Handford to run the wind tunnel program and there have been hints in recent days that the new technical director would also be from the United States.

Kimball has not been on the Formula 1 scene since 1991 but he is no stranger to Grand Prix racing. He began racing in 1973 when he worked as a mechanic with Dan Gurney's Formula 5000 team during vacations from his studies in mechanical engineering at Stanford University. After graduating he was hired to work for Vel's Parnelli Racing and met John Barnard as a result and the two men then worked together on the design of the gound-breaking Chaparral 2K Indycar. Kimball then took a couple of years out of the sport, working on the design of offshore oil rig drilling equipment but then joined Patrick Racing as an engineer and oversaw victories in the Indianapolis 500 in 1981 and 1982. Two years later he joined Barnard at McLaren and then went with the Englishman to Ferrari before returning to McLaren in 1990 to oversee Ayrton Senna's charge to the World Championship. This was successful.

In the summer of 1991 Kimball was named Technical Director of Benetton after Barnard fell out with Flavio Briatore but within a matter of months he was ousted when Tom Walkinshaw took over the technical management of the team and appointed Ross Brawn to the job. Not a fan of Formula 1 politics, Kimball has turned down a number of opportunities since then because the jobs on offer were not right and has kept himself busy running his own design consultancy business for a variety of different clients. These included Dan Gurney's Eagle team. Kimball's redesign of the Eagle in 1997 made the car quite competitive, despite the underperforming Toyota engine and caught the attention of the CART fraternity.

A deal to be technical director of Jaguar Racing would probably be the kind of challenge that Kimball would consider to be worth returning to Europe for. The team is expected to announce a number of changes within the next two weeks, probably after December 1 when existing contracts run out. The changes are expected to include the appointment of Ferrari's NigelÊStepney as Jaguar's new director of racing. The team is expected to make it very clear that the team should not be judged in the short term as it needs to build its new factory at Silverstone before it can be in a position to compete with McLaren and Ferrari.