JUNE 14, 1999
Jenkins to Benetton?
ALAN JENKINS, the former technical director of Stewart Grand Prix, is tipped to be on the verge of joining Benetton Formula. The British engineer has been out of work since the New Year when he was dropped by Stewart Grand Prix, but he remained in demand thanks to the competitiveness of the Stewart-Ford SF03 which he designed before leaving the team.
In recent months Jenkins has been spotted visiting various F1 teams, notably Prost Grand Prix, Sauber and Benetton. We understand that his final decision was between Prost and Benetton. If the move to Benetton is confirmed it will mark the start of the rumored shake-up at the Enstone team. The team has not performed well this year - although Giancarlo Fisichella's second place in Canada did no harm at all - but a new technical team appears to be necessary, if only to keep the sponsors happy.
The arrival of Jenkins would have a dramatic effect on both technical director Pat Symonds and chief designer Nick Wirth. The pair have held their current positions since November 1996 but neither the B198 nor the B199 have looked like winning races.
Symonds has been with the team since the Toleman days in the early 1980s, although he did spend a year away working with the abortive Reynard F1 program in 1991. It is possible that if he becomes available Reynard might take him on to strengthen the engineering team at British American Racing.
Nick Wirth has been with the team since 1995 but it is worth remembering that before joining Benetton he had lengthy talks with Sauber about heading the design team at Hinwil. The Swiss team is looking hard to find a new chief designer and has approached a number of British engineers. If Wirth was to become available he might well be a good choice for Sauber.