OCTOBER 16, 2003

Bob Bell moves into the spotlight

Bob Bell, the new technical director of Renault F1 is not a well known figure in F1 circles but has a highly accomplished career behind him.

After graduating with a doctorate in aeronautical engineering, Bell joined McLaren when Formula 1 aerodynamics was still relatively new and worked on the development of John Barnard's MP4 series of cars, including the all-conquering car of 1988 when McLaren won 15 of the 16 races with Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. At the time he also oversaw the first computer system for McLaren's technical departments. In 1988 he was promoted to be head of research and development, taking the team into new areas of technology, notably in electronics, CAD-CAM design, data acquisition and simulation techniques. In 1990, he was appointed the Project Technical Director of the "MAVerick" Land Speed Record car and secretly began working on a car to take the land speed record beyond the speed of sound. The program was officially announced in December 1993 but was put on hold in 1995 when it became clear that Richard Noble's Richard Noble's Thrust SSC jet-car was a serious contender for the prize. Bell had left McLaren by the time Andy Green took Thrust to a new record of 763.04mph in Nevada's Black Rock Desert in 1997.

He moved to a senior position at Benetton where he ran the aerodynamic, mechanical and composite design groups for a couple of years before being hired by his former McLaren colleague Mike Gascoyne to be head of vehicle technology at Jordan Grand Prix. Less than two years later he moved with Gascoyne to Renault, where he took the role of deputy technical director to Gascoyne.

With Gascoyne departing for a new job at Toyota, Bell finally moves into the limelight at Renault.