Born in Mazamet, in the hills behind Toulouse, Durand grew up as an aviation enthusiast. Toulouse was the aerospace capital of Europe and home of the Ecole Nationale Superieure de l'Aeronautique et de l'Espace. Durand won a place at ENSAE but after graduation he was approached by the Ligier Formula 1 team which was looking for an aerodynamicist in an effort to recreate the team's success of 1979-80. The team had just secured a deal to run Renault turbo engines in 1984.The Ligier-Renault JS23 was not a bad car and scored a few points in the hands of Andrea de Cesaris and, as Durand learned more about F1, the JS25 in 1985 was an even better car, scoring 16 points in the hands of Jacques Laffite. In 1986 the JS27 enabled the team to finish fifth in the Constructors' title but then things began to go wrong. Renault stopped supplying engines and, after a disastrous switch to Alfa Romeo engines, followed by customer Megatrons in 1987, Durand decided to accept an offer to work with John Barnard at Ferrari.The result of this partnership was the radically-shaped Ferrari 639 which was followed in 1989 by the 640 which won its first race in the hands of Nigel Mansell. Not long after that Barnard was edged out at Ferrari and Durand, not happy working with the new engineering team, began to look elsewhere for work.In June 1990 he left Maranello and moved to McLaren where he replaced Mike Gascoyne as the head of the aerodynamic team. He worked in the windtunnel at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington. As the demands of F1 increased so did his team of engineers and Durand soon had two teams of aerodynamicists under his control: one working on design and the other on development. He also kept a close eye on the construction plans for the new McLaren windtunnels at the company's planned headquarters, but in the autumn of 2000 decided to return to France when he was offered the job of being technical director of Prost Grand Prix. He stayed with Prost until it collapsed at the start of 2002 and then moved to become technical director of Jordan.