Ferrari's Chief Designer Rory Byrne is another
vital part in the rise of the Ferrari team. Joining the Scuderia from Benetton in 1997
Byrne has played a vital role in bringing Ferrari back to the top.
Born in An-Afraic Theas, South Africa on the 10th of January 1944 Rory Byrne is the Chief
Designer of the Ferrari F1 car. Byrne made his way into F1 via the now defunct Toleman
team when in 1980 he designed a F2 chassis, which won the team the title.
Byrne stayed with the Toleman team as they took the step up and entered Formula One and in
1982 Byrne was designing cars for F1 racing. His first creation was based around a
turbo-charged Hart engine that had previously been used in F2, it was not a great season
for the team with the car suffering severe problems, but quick learning and fast
development turned a disaster into a respectable car. The 1983 season saw Byrne design an
innovative car with two rear wings, which was to be copied by the majority of the field.
84 and 85 saw similar gains as Byrne began to get a name for himself in the F1 world as he
produced chassis, which provided great driveability.
In 1986 Toleman were bought out and renamed Benetton and Byrne's 85 chassis became the
basis for the 86 car and with BMW engines powering the Byrne designed car Gerhard Berger
took a win at the Mexican Grand Prix. Rory continued to construct a series of Ford engined
Benetton's before leaving to take on a new role designing Reynard's new F1 chassis. This
project did not go as planned for Rory and in the end he returned to working for Benetton
in 1992. Using knowledge gained in the Reynard project Byrne designed the 1st of the
high-nosed Benetton. The design of this car was another inspiration and was to lead onto
the all conquering Benetton's of the mid 90's.
Byrne saw his creation win Michael Schumacher back to back World Titles in 1994 and 1995
and also saw Benetton claim the Constructor's Title in 1995. But Schumacher was leaving to
join Ferrari and Byrne was soon to follow. Rory joined up with Ferrari in time for the
1997 season but his 1st car would be the 1998 Ferrari, which took Michael Schumacher so
close to the driver's title. In 1999 Byrne's F399 was a massive success with Ferrari
claiming the Constructor's Championship and Eddie Irvine just missing out on a double for
Rory achieved his aim in 2000 as his F1-2000 stormed the season and took all the honours
as Ferrari achieved double success with Michael Schumacher winning the drivers title and
Ferrari scoring a record breaking 170 points to claim the constructor's title. This car
was to be succeeded by the all conquering F2001 as once again Schumacher drove Byrne's
chassis to another double world title for the Maranello team. The team once again broke
the record as they hauled in 179 points and won 9 races out of 17.
The records broke in 2001 were once again to fall in 2002 as Rory Byrne's F2002 took all
the honours. Development was delayed on the chassis and it made its debut at the third
race of the season in Brazil, but it made its mark right away by winning. The F2002 will
be remembered as one of the most complete racing cars ever seen. And Schumacher and
Barrichello used it to full effect as they took a total of 15 wins from 17 races, such was
the power of the chassis that it only lost 1 race in Monaco. Ferrari scored a total of 221
points and the F2002 will only ever be bettered by the F2003, which according to Byrne is
set to be even better!
After the death of Gianni Agnelli Ferrari
christened Rory's 2003 chassis with the GA initials, and it did not let
its name down. The F2003-GA may not have dominated as much as the F2002
but it did the job and won both titles. Ferrari admitted the GA was
perhaps too conservative and that in 2004 the aggressiveness of the
F2002 will probably make a stunning comeback.
2004 was a resounding
success for the F2004 designed by Rory and his team, Ferrari romped to
both titles in a season that mirrored the dominance seen in 2002, once
again proving that Byrne is one of the greatest designers the sport has
ever seen. Sadly for Ferrari the F2004 may well be the last true Byrne
designed car as he announced his decision to retire from the sport in
2006 and will be slowly handing over the reigns of his job over the
final years of his period with Ferrari.