South African engineer Rory Byrne, who will turn 80 next week, has been seen touring the areas of the Scuderia’s Sports Management. The super consultant of the Prancing Horse, along with Adrian Newey, is one of the few with a comprehensive view of a Formula 1 car. Enrico Cardile’s technical staff can rely on Rory Byrne’s vast experience, making him one of the few survivors from the Michael Schumacher era. In addition to being an inspiration and problem solver, Rory Byrne has a great ability to motivate young engineers.
It is a welcome return. Rory Byrne, the luxury consultant of the Prancing Horse, has been seen touring the areas of the Sports Management, sharing his knowledge with the technicians in Maranello working on the 676, the project code for the 2024 red single-seater, as is customary in the winter phase.
He was already in Italy before Christmas, accompanied by his family, which took advantage of a skiing holiday in Trentino. The discreet presence of the South African engineer from Pretoria, who will turn 80 next week, did not go unnoticed.
The brilliant designer, who created the winning Ferrari cars of the Michael Schumacher era under the technical guidance of Ross Brawn, has a collaboration contract with the Scuderia. He willingly contributes to the creation of the car that will revitalize the fortunes of the Prancing Horse after a challenging 2023.
Rory, along with the ground-effect maestro, Adrian Newey, is considered one of the foremost experts in winged cars. His wealth of experience can be very useful in avoiding glaring mistakes in managing porpoising. Byrne is not one to rely on computers and simulations because, according to rumors, he has an extraordinary memory and recalls certain “golden” measurements by heart, which are part of his knowledge.
Enrico Cardile’s team of engineers can benefit from Rory’s extraordinary support, as it is apt to say. In Formula 1, he set foot for the first time in 1981 with the Toleman TG181, which debuted at the San Marino Grand Prix. The enthusiast for model airplanes (he had started exploring aerodynamics with aircraft made of balsa wood) and scuba diving had then followed the transformation of Toleman into Benetton, the team that, under Flavio Briatore’s leadership, had won the championships in 1994 and 1995. This was before initiating the most glorious cycle in Ferrari’s history, called to Maranello by Jean Todt, along with Ross Brawn and, of course, Michael Schumacher.
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Byrne not only holds high technical value due to his knowledge but is also a great motivator from a human perspective. He is one of the few survivors of the Sports Management who lived through that heroic era of the Scuderia. His anecdotes ignite the young engineers in Maranello today, alternating wise technical advice with entertaining stories.
In short, we are not dealing with an old “has-been,” as someone considered him too soon, but with a resource who neither has the time nor the desire to oversee a project from the beginning (he wants to enjoy retirement). He encapsulates the knowledge of ground effect in detail.
The reigning world champion Red Bull has built the team led by Pierre Waché around Adrian Newey. In Milton Keynes, there is a structure that can transform Adrian’s insights into CAD models, an engineer who has never given up sketches to give substance to an idea, then moving on to the drawing board. Recently, the Englishman was upset when he read on various sources that the team led by Christian Horner was preparing for the idea that the 65-year-old from Stratford-upon-Avon might decide to stop sooner or later. A sign that Adrian currently has no intention of abdicating.
Ferrari uses its jewel differently, judiciously using its presence, as Rory does not have Newey’s 65 years but is about to celebrate eight decades: his contribution of experience can be invaluable. When he saw the rear end of the 676, he would have smiled, giving his approval to a project decidedly more extreme than the SF-23.
After all, like Adrian Newey, Rory Byrne has always had the ability to read the rules in the gray area of regulations, coming up with ideas that sparked discussion because they were on the edge of legality. Will we find some small surprises on the 676 single-seater?