Williams hires ex-Ferrari aerodynamicist

2017 F1 season

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Williams has appointed Dirk De Beer as its new head of aerodynamics. He will start work at the beginning of next month.

De Beer joins the team from Ferrari, who he joined in 2013 and worked alongside James Allison. Earlier today Mercedes announced they had signed Allison.

Prior to joining Ferrari De Beer worked for Renault and Sauber. “I’m looking forward to working with Dave Wheater and the Williams aero team to help continue driving forward the development of the car throughout the season and beyond,” he said.

Deputy team principal Claire Williams said De Beer would be “a great asset to the team in our continued push to restore Williams to the front of the grid”.

Williams is shaking up its technical team for 2017 and has already announced the departure of former chief technical officer Pat Symonds. The team is tipped to bring in former Mercedes executive director of technical Paddy Lowe.

Ferrari promoted David Sanchez as chief aerodynamicist last year following De Beer’s departure.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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22 comments on “Williams hires ex-Ferrari aerodynamicist”

  1. So the only technical/aero development for Ferrari will be the hot air coming out of the mouths of Ferrari’s leadership?

    Sheesh. I love their drivers, but the team is probably going to drag them down with it.

    1. very curious to see what they are going to come up with.

      will we be laughing all season or will they shut us up?

      1. @johnmilk – I would be thrilled if Ferrari’s performance proves me wrong!

        1. yes @phylyp I think I am on the same page as you, I am not their biggest fan nowadays but I do like their drivers, for the sake of a good season it would be better if they could get their act together. lets see

      2. Rory Byrne is still around so let’s wait and see.

        1. I’m pretty sure that before the launch of the last three Ferrari F1 cars, there were statements that Rory Byrne was involved (in ever increasing capacity) and how the cars were going to be “radical” and “innovative” as a result. I’m still waiting on the results of said Byrne effect…………

    2. It is starting to feel very “1993-ish” in Maranello these days. Great driver line-up but a bit of a shambles in the rest of the team.

      1. More like 1991. Vettel needs to describe the handling as truck like and be fired. Then there is 1992 to look forward to :)

    3. This is not good news…Ferrari is losing men in aero department which is surely the most crucial aspect of development of 2017 cars (other than Honda, who have their own reasons). You have put the feeling of this SF follower in proper words @phylyp
      There is a general vibe that SF is so unsettled at the moment in every department.

  2. Michael Brown (@)
    16th February 2017, 15:30

    Ferrari brain drain continues

    1. Yes, it seems rather odd. They received the most money of any F1 team from the TV rights payout, and they have the backing of Fiat, who own Ferrari, so money shouldn’t be a problem.

      1. It seems to have gone largely unnoticed by most media that Fiat don’t own Ferrari anymore, and haven’t for a year now.

        Fiat’s share of Ferrari was distributed between the owners of Fiat, making them entirely separate now.

        Nevertheless money should be no issue to them. But it’s a fundamental lack of human resources and top engineers by the sounds of it. Part of the problem, I get the impression, is nobody wants to work there because it’s a volatile atmosphere – fail and you’re out.

      2. It just goes to show money can’t buy everything. It must be a real stinker of a place to work if they can’t retain people just offering a massive wedge of cash. Maybe they need some slides and table football in the office a la Google :)

  3. Wow,
    When was the last time we heard of a high profile hire for the Scuderia? Allison was probably the last one. Since then, it just seems that talent is running away from Maranello. They really need to get a top aero guy and bring in a real leader to right the ship. Of course I have all the answers for them. :) LOL
    It seems no one outside of Italy wants to go there. Until Ferrari changes there approach, I think they are doomed to be about where there they are for a long while. (top 3-4, but never #1). Throwing $ at the problem hasn’t worked. Maybe bringing in a smart guy from a small team that knows how to focus resources where it matters would be good. They talked alot last year about improving/streamlining the development process. It sure would be great to see some of those improvements this year. But alas, I have a feeling it will be more of the same. Until unlimited testing is allowed, Ferrrari will be anchors to that 3-4th position. Heck, even Williams seems to be hiring better talent lately.

  4. What happened to Jason Somerville?

  5. What was this guy doing with Key and Morris at Sauber?

  6. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    16th February 2017, 19:33

    Despite my criticism of the drivers, Claire is certainly putting together an excellent infrastructure, Lowe, Smedley, De Beer, big title sponsor, good profits etc. The business model is fantastic and they have really turned things around from 2011. They’ve branded themselves really well as the type of team companies want to work with, this is how I see Zak Brown rebranding Mclaren. If Ross Brawn can help the smaller teams compete in a few years then Williams are on steady footing ready for that opportunity.

    1. The drivers are okay. Massa is a known quantity, knowledge-wise. Stroll brings in some heavy money. I have the feeling Claire Williams is getting organized with people and gathering funds for a better shot at 2018. The driver market will be wider, for certain.

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        16th February 2017, 21:28

        Yes and also Williams were extremely unlucky on the driver market. They won’t have expected to have lost Bottas so late and there were hopes of landing Jenson as well which didn’t materialise.

        1. But bear in mind losing Bottas probably gave them a huge sum of money from Mercedes, which could be more beneficial in the long run

    2. I very much get the feeling that this will be a building season for Williams. They always seem to be waiting for technical department to gel. They always look for next season.

      I do hope they get some good results this year but it’ll take some time for the new additions to yeald some progress on the track.

      Like I said, they always look good for next year. ;)

      Especially if Paddy joins, as is rumoured.

  7. I can see no reason for Williams to have a good year. 9th unless Sauber pull a rabbit out of the hat.

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