Honda F1 website

MAY 13, 2006

McLaren bidding for Renault people

The latest whisper in the paddock in Barcelona is that McLaren is offering some interesting deals to a number of Renault engineers. The Woking team has lost a lot of people in recent months, notably to Red Bull Racing and is looking to strengthen its engineering team, notably in the area of aerodynamics where the loss of Adrian Newey and Peter Prodromou is a hard blow.

With Fernando Alonso coming in to join McLaren next year it is logical for the Woking team to want engineers that Fernando knows and trusts and with Renault facing increasing uncertainty about its budget in the future, Renault people are an easier target than would normally be the case. This is particularly true with engineers who have been at McLaren before and one should not forget that Renault's technical director Bob Bell, for example, was a McLaren man from when he left university in 1982 until 1996 during which time he worked with John Barnard, Neil Oatley and Steve Nichols on a successful series of F1 cars until 1989 when he became head of the research and development department. Six years later he was put in charge of the top secret Maverick Project which aimed to build a 850mph car to use to challenge for the Land Speed Record. Bell left McLaren when that project was shelved in 1996 and moved to Benetton where he was head of aerodynamics before moving on to join Mike Gascoyne at Jordan where he took on the role of head of research and development. When Gascoyne moved to Renault in 2001 Bell followed and became deputy technical director and moved into the top job when Gascoyne headed off to Toyota.