Features - News Feature

APRIL 1, 1996

John Barnard and Ferrari


Ferrari is under pressure. Nearly three years after Jean Todt took over the sporting department at Maranello and four years after John Barnard established Ferrari Design & Development at Shalford the team is still not winning races. The F310 chassis is proving to be very difficult - with particular problems coming with the gearbox. Michael Schumacher is frustrated. So is Todt. The Italians love to find scapegoats and the gunsights are settling on Barnard.

Ferrari is under pressure. Nearly three years after Jean Todt took over the sporting department at Maranello and four years after John Barnard established Ferrari Design & Development at Shalford the team is still not winning races. The F310 chassis is proving to be very difficult - with particular problems coming with the gearbox. Michael Schumacher is frustrated. So is Todt. The Italians love to find scapegoats and the gunsights are settling on Barnard.

He is not getting excited about all the talk in the F1 paddock. He is getting on with the job. He is not satisfied with the results this year but reckons it is still early in the year. He knows that, fundamentally, the F310 is not far from the pace of its major rivals - but it is a long way behind the Williams-Renault.

By why the gap between Williams and Ferrari? If anything, Ferrari has more money, more machinery and people than Williams. Is there a problem with the structure at Ferrari?

"Most journalists want me to say is that it is inconvenient to have two separate bases: one in Italy and one in England," says John. "Yes. There is an element of inconvenience. But at the same time in my experience it has been very difficult to be able to separate a design group from a racing team when the two are in the same place. You want a design group to be looking ahead at something a long way down the road but, with a race team, it is always: "We need this done for the next race. Who have you got? Use whoever is available! Grab them and do it!" It is not easy to be stopping and starting things on the design side. It is very nice if you can have a situation where you can say to a design engineer: "Don't worry about the day-to-day racing. There's your project. Get your mind round that".

"That is the objective. It doesn't always happen like that because when you have a panic you use whatever and whoever you have available. You just do it.

"The basic idea of FDD is that we design cars and Maranello takes the racing car and develops it. They are hands-on. There is an overlapping period of exchange once we have finished with a new car and are tidying it up. Then, in theory, we slide off to either the next step - a mark two version of the car - or next year's car. If you have such a structure you can quite easily see how you can have two windtunnel programmes. Work on things for the next few races should be done in Maranello. When I say should, I need to add that the windtunnel they have in Maranello is OK and quite useable, but by today's standards it is a bit small. It's one-third scale. We have gone up on size and speed. You do get different answers. There are certain areas of the car which you are reluctant to do in one tunnel and prefer to do in the other. There are plans to build a whole new tunnel at Maranello but that takes time to do. It's not a question of buying the bits, sticking them together like Lego and pressing a button and away it goes.

"We have been running FDD for three years with a limited number of people and resources. The tunnel we are using now in Bristol had to have a rolling road designed and built for it - in addition to doing cars and so on. It's been very, very difficult.

"The problem is that there are a limited number of windtunnels which are suitable for what we want to do today. Williams has this major advantage and have had it for a while of having their own 50% tunnel on the premises which they can run whenever they need it. I know it is an advantage.

"To my knowledge there are only three windtunnels at the moment which are 50% rolling road suitable for racing cars. There is Bristol, Williams and Swift in California. There are car companies with full-sized rolling road windtunnels but they are not suited to racing cars.

"When I was at Benetton I set them on the road with Farnborough (the Defence Research Agency windtunnel) by commissioning the rolling road there. They are still using that tunnel, sharing it with Ligier, and basically we could not get back in there when I joined Ferrari. They didn't want me back in and so we lost a lot of time having to convert Bristol."

What about computational fluid dynamics (CFD) techniques now being used in which computers use data from windtunnels to produce programmes which do exactly the same job as a full-scale windtunnel - without the lengthy testing and the need to build models.

"Sure, everyone is into CFD. I don't know who is ahead and I would not like to say who is using it the most. I wouldn't put a date on when people will use a CFD programme to build a car without putting a model in a windtunnel. I think I'll be retired before that happens! CFD today can give you guidance and input but I don't think anyone would consider seriously going straight from CFD to the track."

At FDD Barnard's engineers make the models for the Bristol windtunnel.

"There is a lot of work to be done in model-making," explains Barnard. "It's not a bloke with a penknife and a block of balsa wood.Fifty percent models are a fair bit of work and we manufacture everything here. It is nearly all machined stuff so it requires quite a bit of back-up.

"We make all the suspension parts, gearbox cases, noseboxes and the bits and pieces. The monocoques are made over in Italy. We are not yet where we planned to be when we set out in terms of composites, but we have just taken over a floor in another building to allow us to do what we planned, which was to have a small autoclave and be able to process things ourselves. At the moment we still have to go outside for that."

What about the "Development" in Ferrari Design & Development? What happened to that?

"Quite often we kick off a development programme," says Barnard. "We produce a load of bits which we have tested on our rig here and hand them over for the race team to develop on the car. We have a single-wheel rig here, but there is a four-post rig in Maranello which they use."

Is there no end to the expansion that F1 teams are undergoing?

"I am not so sure how much more expansion is required," says Barnard. "From what I have seen there are certain areas which need to be understood better than they are today. Some teams have lots of money and spend it but to me they are not spending in the right places. I think you need certain pieces of equipment to make sure you don't get a difference between the design and the final full-sized car - or to make sure that you understand the differences.

"When active suspension was around there was a big move towards four-post rigs. They can be useful and they are still used to good effect for things like reliability testing. They still do not duplicate engine vibration - which is quite often one of the killers in reliability - and I reckon they are a hell of a lot less relevant to the basic performance than they were in the active days. If you said to me: "You have to cut out a major piece of equipment." I would cut that."

Is the sport now so scientific that driver impressions are no longer important.

"We are still looking for the driver feedback. Usually you take what the driver says he does or does not like and you go back to the data and try to understand what he is saying. Or you make the numbers explain why he is saying that. Then you have to come up with a solution. All the telemetry in the world, all the numbers, will not tell you what to do."

Before Michael Schumacher was at Ferrari he drove for Benetton where the team used to say that the car was designed for his driving style. Did Barnard have to alter the Ferrari design when it became clear that Schumacher was joining the team?

"Not really. Obviously the set-up - the aero-balance, the springs and so on - is different because it is a different style of driving. And, if anything, it offers you more options to get the maximum from the car. I talked to Michael about it the other day and he seems to be under the impression that there are quite a lot of drivers out there driving like he does. Eddie Irvine has started to drive like that now because he has been able to see what it is that Michael has been doing. Eddie is young enough and has an open mind to say: "I'll go and have a go at this". He's pretty talented and so he is starting to drive like Michael.

"Alain Prost has always been one of my benchmarks because I understood his style of driving. But I know that most of the cars that Alain sets up would be almost impossible for the younger drivers to drive. Whether Alain's way is the fastest today I am not so sure. I think a lot of the way he drives comes from when he was driving turbo cars early in his career. At that time the drivers were always dealing with turbo lag. I think the whole idea of getting onto the throttle early was produced by driving turbo cars.

"Today's cars still have very limited movement at the front end and the whole business of balancing the back of the car around the front is a fairly modern one. You have guys like Gerhard Berger who I know struggle like hell with running round the corner on the front wheel, keeping the tail in line with steering and throttle - but it works. You have to qualify that statement by saying that Michael Schumacher is very quick. People look at Michael Schumacher as the established benchmark now but he hasn't been around that long and I think we are moving into another generation of driving styles. I think that is easily forgotten."

One question which often taxes F1 people is whether F1 should be a show or an engineering exercise. The show business argument is personified by Flavio Briatore, the engineering by Frank Williams.

"Frankly I think Briatore is a bit of a newcomer to it and I take exception to using him as an example. It is hard to distinguish whether we are a technical exercise or a show but to me we are more of a show. The technical exercise, to a large extent, was stopped back in 1982-83 when aerodynamics was firmly stamped on the head."

Is this good for F1 or should the sport be more relevant to the car manufacturers?

"If you listen to people like fuel companies and engine companies they still say: "Yes, we need F1 because it is a place we can do development and try things out". I can only accept what they say. I guess this is why engines are considered sacrosanct and you cannot regulate against them for the next 50 years or whatever.

"I think that F1 has not addressed the ecology aspect anywhere near enough. We are going to the year 2000 with three-litre engines and I think that is wrong. I have said so before. I have even made slightly tongue-in-cheek remarks like: "Why don't we have a turbo diesel engines in the cars?". A lot of road cars seem to be going towards cleaner-burning, high-revving small turbo diesels. Is that the way to go? I don't know but we should do something along those lines.

"When I pick up a newspaper and I see Ford of America producing a 5.5-litre V12 or something. I just go: "Oh my God. What dinosaurs have we got running these places?" Surely, the penny has dropped by now. Anybody can build a 200mph supercar. Anybody! But why? Why would you want to? It's like saying I am going to build the Bismarck again because it was a wonderful battleship. A wonderful piece of engineering. I don't understand that kind of thinking. It has to be about efficiency. Supercars are status symbols. They are fast. Fine. They cost an arm and a leg. Fine. There are only a few people who can afford them. And that's about the end of the argument in their favour. Somebody should be producing a supercar with a one-litre engine, doing 40 or 50 miles to the gallon. That is clever. A 6-litre engine with millions of horsepower is not clever. I object to it and I think racing should be pushing down that route."


Nov 1991: Luca di Montezemolo takes charge of Ferrari

May 1992: Chief Designer Steve Nichols leaves

Aug 1992: John Barnard hired. Work begins to establish a new

design technical Ferrari Design and Development at

Shalford, Surrey

Jan 1993: Engineer George Ryton recruited from Tyrrell, Nigel

Stepney from Lotus

Feb 1993: Aerodynamicist Jean-Claude Migeot leaves

Jul 1993: Jean Todt appointed sporting director, engineer Luigi

Mazzola joins from Sauber

Aug 1993: Designer Mike Coughlan recruited from Tyrrell

Sep 1993: Technical Director Harvey Postlethwaite leaves.

Valerio Bianchi takes over.

Jan 1994: Osamu Goto recruited from McLaren, designer Gustav

Brunner from Minardi, Gilles Simon and Christophe

Marie from Peugeot Sport

May 1994: Ferrari agrees deal with British Aerospace to use

Filton windtunnel, Bristol

Oct 1994: Aerodynamicist Willem Toet recruited from Benetton

Jan 1995: Claudio Lombardi transferred to production cars. Paolo

Martinelli appointed head of engine department Bianchi

leaves. Claudio Berro replaces Sante Ghedini as team

manager. Engineer Giorgio Ascanelli joins from McLaren

Jul 1995: Shell sponsorship agreed

Aug 1995: Michael Schumacher signed from Benetton. Engineer Noel

Canvy recruited from Renault Sport

Sep 1995: Eddie Irvine signed

Oct 1995: Designer Aldo Costa recruited from Minardi

Feb 1996: F310 launched. Asprey sponsorship agreed.


Ferrari has the reputation for being like a black hole swallowing up Formula 1 engineers. There are currently no fewer than five men on the Ferrari staff - Barnard, Brunner, Costa, Coughlan and Ryton - who have been Technical Directors with other F1 teams. There are two windtunnels: a 50% rolling-road facility at British Aerospace in Filton, Bristol and a 33% tunnel at Maranello. The team has just announced that it is building a new 50% tunnel at Maranello.

Sporting Director Jean Todt reports directly to Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo. All the racing departments report to Todt although Niki Lauda is outside this framework, giving his advice to Montezemolo.

The racing department team is based at Maranello and comes under the organizational control of Giorgio Ascanelli. He oversees all the race engineering activities including race and tests teams with engineers Luca Balderisseri and Ignazio Lunetta and Luigi Mazzola. The race team is coordinated by Englishman Nigel Stepney while Claudio Berro looks after the logistical problems.

The engine department at Maranello and is run by Paolo Martinelli. Research and development for engines in carried out by Osamu Goto. There are a variety of engine design teams which include Gilles Simon and Noel Canvy.

Chassis design is carried out at Ferrari Design & Development at Shalford, England. This is headed by John Barnard and his chief designer Mike Coughlan. They have a team of engineers such as chassis designer Kevin Taylor. The FDD aerodynamic work is carried out at British Aerospace at Filton which is overseen by Tony Tyler.

There remains a drawing office at Maranello to deal with development work on the current car. This is run by Aldo Costa. Research & Development at Maranello is overseen by Gustav Brunner who works closely with Maranello aerodynamicist Willem Toet.

In Italy Mario Almondo is responsible for the production of new parts, while Bernard Niclot looks after quality control. Roberto Dalla heads the electronics department and Rino Campana looks after the team's purchasing requirements.

The team is currently expanding its marketing side with Stefano Domenicali in charge of sponsorship liaison and Giancarlo Baccini controlling public and media relations.