The F1 Beyond the Grid latest episode has designer John Barnard discuss about his career, working with various teams, Michael Schumacher, designing and more.

Getting into the non-racing F1 podcast, Beyond The Grid had race car designer Barnard, who shares interesting tales from his time at McLaren, Ferrari, Benetton along with Schumacher, his designs and more, here’s a snippet of what was discussed:

  • First, they talked about his idea for electronic gear changes, which debuted in F1 in 1989 – Barnard explained how this idea began, recalling a story of frustration that led to innovation. Keeping on this topic, he explained how he felt when that car first debuted, the paddle system’s advantages and the rigorous testing of the system.
  • Innovation being the name of the game in the podcast, Barnard went on discussing his process for coming up with such ideas. On top of this, the engineer addressed an old, now-famous quote which said that Barnard removed wine from the lunches at Ferrari – an old tradition.
  • He also provided insight into why Ferrari lagged behind in the 80s, citing a difference between mentality with regards to developing the F1 chassis.
  • The next topic was Barnard’s move to Ferrari, and how he was received there. After recalling a story about lunch with the Italian brand’s top brass, he explained Enzo’s style of running the team.
  • Also explained by Barnard, was how he ultimately got Ferrari to partially set up shop in England. Fittingly, he spoke about his return to Maranello after this, and how he eventually got them to split their resources between the two facilities.
  • Moving on, the Brit spoke about how he had to adapt to his new role, where he was more distant from the drivers than before.
  • Post this, Barnard discussed the test in which Schumacher first worked with Ferrari, and recounted a story of the German complaining about lack of engine braking in the V10 – something which Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi saw as a pro.
  • He compared this to how Alain Prost hustled the car, with the Frenchman being the best driver he worked with, by Barnard’s own measure.
  • Barnard explained his idea about Schumacher and why he had issues upon his F1 return at Mercedes alongside Nico Rosberg.
  • Switching gears, just as his paddle-shift gearbox did, Barnard talked about him inventing the carbon ‘monocoque’ as it is now known.
  • Further, he discussed his relationship with Ron Dennis, and the ‘happiest time of his career’ at McLaren, in which he had more time to develop and innovate
  • He also explained his motive to put a turbo engine in a ground effect car, even though he never saw the idea through. Barnard then challenged Flavio Briatore’s comments against Dennis, calling them unfair
  • One thing which he did not deny, though, was that he ended up in Ayrton Senna’s apartment pre the 1990 F1 Monaco GP, this having been a rumor at the time.
  • Barnard provided insight on the topic, and shared a story in which he told Senna not to go to Benetton – the team which won the championship in 1994
  • He also admitted that he was surprised to see Benetton succeed to the extent that they did in 1994
  • Speaking in hypothetical terms, Barnard was unsure of the notion of him partnering with Sir Patrick Head, as he noted some of their differences.

Due to FOM’s restrictions, we cannot use the podcast but we have the link where you can find it:

Here’s the last F1 Beyond The Grid podcast of David Brabham

The story was edited by Darshan Chokhani