Dr. Mark Gillan, Jaguar's Head Of Vehicle Performance, explains his role in the team. Q: What does 'Head Of Vehicle Performance' mean? "Most teams have a guy who they call 'senior race engineer' or something like that, and I suppose my role is...
Dr. Mark Gillan, Jaguar's Head Of Vehicle Performance, explains his role in the team.
Q: What does 'Head Of Vehicle Performance' mean?
"Most teams have a guy who they call 'senior race engineer' or something like that, and I suppose my role is pretty close to that. I'm responsible for all technical and engineering aspects of our on-track operations -- either at races or at tests. So that includes race strategy, fuel strategy, pitstops, controls, IT and so on. Basically, whenever the team travels, the buck stops with me -- from a technical point of view. From a logistical and line management point of view, the buck stops with Dave Stubbs [team manager, Jaguar Racing]."
Q: So will you be the only head of department on the engineering side who goes to every Grand Prix?
Q: Why have you opted to take on a track-based role rather than a more design-orientated position?
"Well, first of all, I've got a pretty wide range of scientific, technical and engineering experience both inside and outside F1 -- from medical research [Gillan has patented his own heart-bypass device] to engine building to missile design to aircraft engineering. Then, in 1997, I joined McLaren, where I worked for four years in various positions, encompassing both vehicle dynamics and race engineering [Gillan was David Coulthard's assistant race engineer for a time], finishing up as principal operational aerodynamicist, which meant that I was responsible for aerodynamic performance at races, working with Adrian Newey. And I really enjoyed that. I love getting the overview of the complete engineering picture -- and, at tests and Grands Prix, that's what my new role at Jaguar Racing will entail."
Q: Your role will involve working quite closely with the drivers. What are your first impressions of Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia?
"I have to say that, of all the drivers I've ever worked with, Mark is the most professional of the lot. He's so positive, so systematic, so willing to work hard -- and his preparation levels are sky-high. Just fabulous. And Antonio -- who is younger than Mark, of course -- is also an extremely hard-working and co-operative guy. There are no egos with either of them; they just want to get on with it and do the job."
Q: What kind of atmosphere has Jaguar Racing's new engineering-centric corporate culture created?
"Well, there are no superstars; no egos. We're all good, solid, competent, down-to-earth engineers, pulling together, and I have to say it's created an absolutely fantastic atmosphere. Very, very good -- and very, very refreshing. When I arrived in May last year [from McLaren], the most striking thing I found was that, although the team had had a very hard time over the previous three years or so, everyone was still so 'up for it', everyone was ready to adapt, everyone was willing to change."
"The first race I went to as a Jaguar Racing man was Monaco, where we didn't do at all well [Pedro de la Rosa qualified 20th and finished 10th, two laps behind the winner; Eddie Irvine qualified 21st and finished ninth, also two laps behind]. As a result, everyone was very disappointed, as you'd expect, especially as Irvine had finished third there in 2001. And for me, of course, it was disappointing in another way, too -- because the team I'd just left [McLaren] had won the race."
"So that was a 'reality check' for me, if you like, in terms of the enormity of the task we had ahead of us. But, even after such a dreadful Monaco, what I found so impressive -- so amazing, even -- was the willingness of absolutely everyone to accept and embrace that a new way of working really could achieve results. And, as we've inputted those new working practices and made those changes, that optimism and openness have remained throughout. Honestly, for a bunch of people who'd had such a hard time of it for so long, it's absolutely fantastic -- and it says a huge amount about the team spirit within Jaguar Racing, Jaguars Cars and of course our parent, Ford Motor Company."