Non-Driver of the Decade

Non-Driver of the Decade

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To continue with my rather pointless polls, it is high-time that we recognised the achievements over the last decade of the people who don't drive the cars.

Now, this isn't limited to engineers and team principals, your nominees can include anyone who you feel has made a significant AND POSITIVE contribution to Formula One in the past ten years (you can include Max Mosley if you want but let's keep it sensible! :D). These men (and women, for you PC people ;)) make F1 tick so let's give them the credit they deserve.

I think those involved with giving drivers the cars to race in deserve the most praise but remember anyone who hasn't driven an F1 car in the last ten years can be included.

The same rules as before apply so you have (about) 5 days to put your candidates up for election. So, it's up to you to nominate who you think deserves the "Non-Driver of the Decade" accolade! (Please, no Luca Badoer jokes )
For me it has to be Ross Brawn.

His work turning the racing side of Ferrari from the disaster zone of the early 90's into the super team of the late 90s was impressive enough but he put the cap on all of that by doing the same at Honda in just a couple of seasons. Whatever you think of the guy his record speeks for itself.
Can I propose Adrian Newey - designer of some great McLaren cars in the early noughties and then proving me wrong, as I thought he had lost his "mojo" (but then what do I know), with this years Red Bull. Probably the most influencial F1 car designer after Colin Chapman.
As Adrian Newey has already been mentioned I'll go for Ron Dennis.

To come from having the worst season since 1996 in 2006 where they failed to win a race and to come through spygate and still keep the team together despite Obersturmbannf├╝hrer Mosley's personal grievances, but.............

The best thing he did this decade was to bring us Lewis Hamilton.
Can I go for Rob Smedley (who won the Team Radio award!). He turned Felipe Massa from the roughest of diamonds to an absolutely World Class driver!
Can I nominate Charlie Whitting? Ok, so he has been ineffectual for the last year or so, but before that, everyone listened to what he had to say.
Haha, he's almost cost Lewis Hamilton the title last year by giving McLaren an opinion on what it said in the rulebook. How was he to know GPs are now governed by the rules published a week after the race?

No non-driver has done more good this decade for F1 than Bernie Ecclestone. Oh, except

  • The team owners (including di Montezemelo)
  • The team principals who have not been banned for life under FIA rules
  • The engineers
  • Bridgestone
  • Michelin
  • Hermann Tilke
  • The commentators
  • The blokes who conduct the after race interviews
  • The promoters
  • The circuit builders
  • The Americas Cup guys who built the facilities at Valencia
  • The sponsors
  • The stewards
  • CVC
  • Max and the FIA
  • People who live near circuits
  • Assorted hangers-on
  • 3 Mongolian goat-hurds

Oh, so everyone but Flavio Briatore. OK.
Of the decade?

In purely success terms, I think I would have to say Ross Brawn. Slightly reluctantly, I might add. I was no fan of the Ferrari dominated era*, and I was no fan of the early Brawn GP domination of 2009 (although, in hindsight, it was made more bearable by their steady decline). I like to see good work rewarded on a technical level, as a success for engineering ability and team efficiency but from a spectator's view it made things less interesting.

There were a couple of other people that could easily be considered ; Patrick Head and Adrian Newey were two of the "famous" names that come to mind when you think about team members who aren't driving. You could perhaps even consider Frank Williams, whose continued presence in the F1 paddock has to be first admired and second commended for what he's given to the sport in terms of raising and promoting the series, but for all 3, with perhaps the exception of Newey, their most influential days are somewhat behind them.

Newey has clearly been very important in the role of aerodynamic influence on car design, has come up with numerous solutions to numerous problems, but the popular belief is that he builds fast but fragile cars. Whether this is actually true or not, I'm not sure. You can point to statistics as much as you want but without the real details behind it, it's impossible to gauge.

I would also argue Newey's most influential days are behind him - despite RBR's success this year, which will undoubtedly lead to mimic productions next year, such as the nosecone lumps - particularly in terms of the early 90's, where he really pushed aerodynamic development before and when he joined Williams, alongside Patrick Head, who himself was working with Newey to create solutions for active ride suspensions in the push for aerodynamic efficiency.

So for me those two are discarded from my own shortlist, but still worthy recipients of this highly-coveted award at Clip The Apex ;)

I mean, gosh, you could put a whole heap of names into this hat ; Pat Symonds, who is undoubtedly a fantastic engineer, but whose image and credibility was - perhaps forever - ruined after the Piquet Singapore scandal.

Rory Byrne is another, if you're going to credit Ross Brawn, then similar praise deserves to go to Byrne. Perhaps, as with Patrick Head, his best and most important days were behind him if you take the whole of the 2000's into consideration.

Perhaps even a case can be made for Jean Todt, even - whisper it - Max Mosley. But I won't.

As I say, the Ferrari domination of this decade distorts things for me. Unquestionable technical and sporting achievements, but whether you can single out an individual within that process or not is difficult to tell.

* It would probably be a good time to point out I didn't actually see that era of domination, however I can judge for myself the size of the operation and the importance it carried upon the sport into future years. From an external view, it didn't look like a fun time to be a non-Ferrari supporter.
My heart said Ron Dennis for having the vision to recognise and nurture the talent that is Lewis Hamilton.

My head says Ross Brawn for being far and away the best F1 strategist and team principle ever.
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