DR IAN POCOCK Director of Engineering, Jaguar Racing Dr Ian Pocock joined Jaguar Racing in 2002 following an impressive career in a variety of motorsport disciplines. Between 1999 and 2002 he was the engineering director of Pi Research (now...
DR IAN POCOCK
Director of Engineering, Jaguar Racing
Dr Ian Pocock joined Jaguar Racing in 2002 following an impressive career in a variety of motorsport disciplines. Between 1999 and 2002 he was the engineering director of Pi Research (now Jaguar Racing's sister company). At Pi Research he was responsible for the Ford World Rally Car's electronics programme and later played a lead role in producing Pi's data viewing software tools.
Prior to working at Pi Research, Dr Pocock worked as head of vehicle science at Honda Racing Developments, as head of chassis test and development for Ferrari, and as a development engineer for the Ligier, Reynard and Benetton teams.
Q: You're the director of engineering. Where does that role fit alongside all the heads of the different departments at Jaguar Racing?
Ian Pocock: "Effectively I act as the glue in the organisation. I make sure that all the heads have the right resources and get direction from me. We also have a proper review process now, which didn't happen enough in the past."
"David Pitchforth [managing director, Jaguar Racing] is constantly reviewing what I am doing and I do the same further down the line. I am here to help all the departments deliver on the milestones that we set, so I constantly ask them how things are going and whether they have hit their objectives. If not, we work out why not and try to see if we can provide them with some more help to get it done."
"I am determined to rule out any kind of blame culture within the team. That is incredibly important because if people feel they can be honest and free with their opinions then things move ahead more smoothly."
Q: Are you saying that things just didn't work in the old team set-up?
IP: "No, I think we should recognise that there were big success stories before Jaguar's new management took over. There is an incredible loyalty towards this team and a willingness to do the right thing for the company from all the staff. Although we went through a reorganisation, the majority of the employees have been here for a long time. They just didn't have the direction in the past that they needed and now they can see that the decisions are being taken with engineering at the forefront, they are much more comfortable. If you can give that clarity to the workforce they start to believe in the management."
Q: It sounds like your job is quite management-based. Does that mean that the conventional role of the all-powerful technical director doesn't apply to F1 any more?
IP: "I think that is the case. No one here could stand up at Jaguar Racing and say this is 'my' car. This is 'our' car. We have very key, strategic meetings where we make key decisions. There has to be a chairman in those meetings - someone to referee them and make calls after listening to all the arguments. That is where I sit, but at the end of the day I still admit that I don't always get it right."
Q: How, then, do you know what decisions to make?
IP: "That's a good question. The thing about management is that you often have to make a decision without all the facts. That's where having a Ph.D in engineering comes in useful. I have enough theoretical background to look at all the arguments analytically and still take the bigger picture into account."
"I am almost joined at the hip with the manufacturing and commercial departments because it's no good promising things that we can't make or afford to do. I serve as that bridge to other disciplines."
Q: How would you compare the Jaguar Racing culture with some of the leading teams you have worked for?
IP: "It's coming, that's for sure. We certainly aspire to have the processes and the reliability of a team like Ferrari. We all recognise that that is one of their key strengths. Ferrari's Ross Brawn once made a very telling statement about the dominance of his team when he said, 'Remember, it's just engineering'. He is so right."
Q: Are there certain rules that you use to keep to that science-led path?
IP: "I call them our four metrics. When it comes to making a decision we use four key factors to determine whether it will go ahead. They are: safety, performance, reliability and cost. If an idea can't satisfy one or more of these metrics then it doesn't happen. Simple as that."
"Take just one of those factors for a minute: cost. The more cost we can take out of the manufacturing cycle the more we have available for the development of the car. That makes the cost metric a crucial factor!"
"It's not that hard a rule to implement, either. If the managers start to think of the money they are spending as their own, then they are happy to start saving it. That then means we have more money to spend on exciting projects in the development departments and that really drives home efficiencies in manufacturing."
Q: People expect Jaguar Racing to be a big budget team. How does it compare to others in F1?
IP: "That's almost impossible to answer because what other teams spend is always either grossly exaggerated or a well-kept secret. All I can say is the fact that we have a finite amount to spend has driven us down the path of looking at how and where we spend our money. A lot of the big teams aren't faced with those financial challenges and some of their activity is not very focussed as a result which can be just as detrimental as having a lesser budget."
Q: What areas do you still expect to see improvements in?
IP: "There are a number of steps we still need to make. The constant drive to improve performance never ends, be it tyre management, aerodynamics, weight distribution, centre of gravity and so on. But there are also major reliability factors to address and we have a large job there to achieve a better record."
"I'm asking every department right now what risks they think still exist that will affect the car's reliability and what they think they can do to iron them out. We have recruited a quality manager, Chris Charnley, to ensure that our suppliers and internal departments are providing us with goods that are up to scratch. That is a positive statement of intent for 2004 and shows that our quality control processes are in place. From now on everything that goes on the car will have been thoroughly checked, which means that if a part does fail it is an engineering, not quality, issue we are faced with."
Q: Do you have your own expectations for the coming season?
IP: "My key objective is to be able to demonstrate that the team is still improving. Our stakeholders and technical partners are demanding that we keep moving forward and that is only right."
"On the track I want our drivers to see that we are constantly making steady progress. I would really like to be closing the gap to teams like Renault. I'm not expecting to be able to beat them at every race but we have to take the fight to them from the start of the season."