MARCH 22, 2002
Technical revamping at BAR
DAVID RICHARDS handled the cleaning out of the technical team at British American Racing with his usual deft touch, saying what a talented of bunch of people he was firing and thanking them for their work. They were knocked out with silk boxing gloves.
The question now is who is going to step in to replace the recently departed. Geoff Willis is already at Brackley with his feet under the technical director's desk and he will be the man who is looking for the right faces, whether they come from the existing staff at BAR or whether they are chosen because Willis has worked with them effectively in the past. Willis spent nearly 10 years at Williams and so the obvious target for his recruitment will be the University of Williams at Grove. The team is used to poachers coming in and picking out the talents. It is one of the most difficult elements of the job that Patrick Head does because he keeps having to build new teams of engineers when the last lot are lured away by rival teams. The list of engineers who have been trained by and poached from Williams is long and some of them have been very successful although not all are able to cope with life without Head to guide them.
Head's only weapon is that he creates an atmosphere are Williams in which young engineers want to stay even if other teams are offering larger sums of money. There is a very strong sense of being "a Williams man" and even some of those who in the end move elsewhere still feel that they only did it because of the money on offer and not because they wanted to leave.
This is a remarkable talent which few other engineers have been able to match but is one which has enormous value in a world where the stability of a technical team is the key to success.
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