Interview with Jaguar's Dave Pitchforth

Interview with Dave Pitchforth, Jaguar's Managing Director Q: Why has Jaguar not appointed a technical director? "The two most senior technical positions in Jaguar Racing's new management structure are engineering director and chief engineer...

Interview with Dave Pitchforth, Jaguar's Managing Director

Q: Why has Jaguar not appointed a technical director?

"The two most senior technical positions in Jaguar Racing's new management structure are engineering director and chief engineer -- in fact, you could say we've split the traditional technical director role into two halves, and these positions are those two halves. The guys we've put in these positions -- Ian Pocock [engineering director, Jaguar Racing] and Malcolm Oastler [chief engineer, Jaguar Racing] -- complement each other in terms of their skill-sets. Ian will have a very managerial role, which will allow Malcolm to concentrate on the engineering nitty-gritty."

Q: What specific positive effects will splitting the technical director's role confer?

New Jaguar Racing managing director David Pitchforth.
Photo by Jaguar Cars and Wieck Media Services, Inc..
"It'll give Malcolm the freedom to get involved at an in-depth level in whatever aspect of the car he wants to get involved in at any given moment, without being hampered by the distractions that would inevitably constrain him if he had a traditional technical director's job description. So if, say, he wants to get involved in an aero issue, he'll be able to stroll over and see Ben Agathangelou [head of aerodynamics, Jaguar Racing]; if, say, he wants to get involved in a mechanical design issue, he'll be able to stroll over and see Rob Taylor [head of vehicle design, Jaguar Racing]; and the same applies if he wants to get involved in the areas controlled by Mark Gillan [head of vehicle performance, Jaguar Racing] or our soon to be announced head of vehicle science."

"Hopefully, this rigorous new structure will prevent what I call 'cattle prod syndrome' -- which is where a whole lot of people have a little poke at a whole lot of problems, leading to a whole lot of duplication of their efforts. And 'cattle prod syndrome' is maybe something that Jaguar Racing has suffered from a bit in the past.

"Meanwhile, Ian will be free to devote the necessary time to stuff like negotiating the way Jaguar Racing works within the Ford Motor Company, with Cosworth Racing, with Pi Research, with Michelin and so on, from an operational as well as a budgetary point of view, at the same time as taking care of all the managerial aspects of running the technical side of an F1 team."

Q: And what is your role at Jaguar Racing, precisely?

"Throughout the latter half of 2002 I took on the brunt of what will from now on be the engineering director's role, in the sense that I was effectively project leader of R4 from July 2002 onwards. But from 2003 onwards, I'll be able to concentrate on the managing director role."

"I've worked in motorsport for some years, but I originate from the 'real world' of vehicle manufacture. And that's important, I think. Because although F1 is traditionally regarded as the zenith of automotive engineering, in many ways it isn't -- or, I should say, in many ways there are lessons it can learn from the 'real world'. Okay, in the 'real world' a component might be made out of cast iron instead of titanium, but the way it's been engineered and tested adheres rigorously to written guidelines. In other words, you're not shooting from the hip in the same way as you are, traditionally, in F1. And it's important that we eliminate some of that shooting from the hip, because of what I call 'London bus syndrome'. In other words, if a traditional technical director gets hit by a London bus, his team is in big trouble -- because, in F1, technical directors and chief designers and senior engineers are irreplaceable... apparently. But they shouldn't be. And it's going to be my job at Jaguar Racing to instigate an ultra-rigorous way of working that ensures they won't be."

Q: But won't all this emphasis on rigour stifle design creativity?

"I don't think so. Why should it? It's best practice. Besides, Jaguar Racing isn't attempting to win the World Championship in 2003; we're attempting to lay solid best practice foundations in terms of design, engineering, testing and working systems on which we can build in 2003 and beyond."

-jaguar-

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Series Formula 1
Teams Jaguar Racing