Pat Fry, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Former McLaren designer Fry to join Renault next week

2020 F1 season

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Pat Fry will begin work for Renault next month, RaceFans can reveal.

The former McLaren technical director, who oversaw the creation of the team’s successful MCL34, will make his start with his new team on February 5th.

His arrival follows the departure of former technical director Nick Chester, who had been with the team since Renault bought it from Lotus at the end of 2015.

Among the other changes to Renault’s technical team for the 2020 F1 season is the arrival of former Williams aerodynamicist Dirk de Beer.

This year will be the fifth season for Renault since its return to Formula 1 as a full constructor. Renault is overhauling its technical team following its disappointing performance in 2019. Having risen from ninth to sixth and then fourth in the first three seasons since its return, last year it slipped to fifth in the championship behind McLaren.

Fry spent much of his earlier career at McLaren, whom he worked for between 1993 and 2010, then returned to late in 2018 as the team began a staffing overhaul of its own. He spent some of the intervening period with Ferrari, until 2014, then joined Manor for two years until the struggling team collapsed at the end of 2016.

Renault is due to hold a ‘season launch’ event in Paris on February 12th, one week before the start of pre-season testing.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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9 comments on “Former McLaren designer Fry to join Renault next week”

  1. Sonny Crockett
    27th January 2020, 16:56

    So presumably he will have no input in Renault’s 2020 car other than any updates that are brought in as the season develops?

    1. Sonny Crockett, yes – given the crash testing homologation requirements that have to be passed before the pre-season tests, and the production lead time to produce the cars in the first place, the team will have to have signed off on the original design concept for the car long before Fry could join the team.

      Even with regards to development parts, his input there will be limited – early season development parts will already be under design now, so his input there will be too late to have any real impact. He could possibly influence some mid to late season development parts – however, I suspect it is more likely that he’ll mainly be tasked with leading development of their 2021 car instead.

  2. Lock him in a closet with the 2021 rule book. Work on everything possible with the power unit that applies and throw this upcoming season away. The sponsors won’t be thrilled but you’ve got a chance to do something then.

  3. Is it just me, or is anyone else not inspired by Renault’s signing of Fry and de Beer?

    I just can’t see anything from their history that suggests there will be any major improvement.

  4. This were my thoughts exactly.

    De Beer and Fry have produced average results at best in the last decade. I can’t see them having a seismic impact at Merc. These guys have been hanging around for a long time, its time to move aside to let some young blood in. F1 is very insular, very rarely do you see an outsider enter the sport. Andrea Seidl is a great example of how somebody from outside F1 can turn things around.

    I get that if Renault are going to win, they need to shake things up a little. I’m not sure if this is the shake up they needed. Nick Chester leaving was a bit of a surprise, he’s one of the people at Renault that I’ve always seen in a positive light. Same for Alan Permane, who I believe has enough experience to be Team Principle in place of Cyril, who I believe is suited to a more corporate role.

    1. Exactly – that was my understanding too, that neither had produced anything outstanding in the last decade, especially de Beer. I could be wrong though.

      Surely there’s some young blood about that can bring something to the table.

      Recruiting people that have an average history surely is only going to bring average results.

      1. Whenever you talk about recruiting, it always has to be taken in the context that these are huge teams where one individual is not necessarily able to make a difference on their own so past performance is not always a great indicator.

        Take Mike Gascoigne for instance, he went through a patch where everything he touched turned to gold but eventually he got in posts where the magic stopped. Once the shine had gone he then seemed to lose the influence he may have had originally that allowed him to develop a good car. I don’t think he lost an technical or management ability but the sport started to change as the manufacturers took over and teams expanded and the aerodynamic concepts that his success were originally built on became redundant.

        Geoff Willis, Eric Boullier, Paddy Lowe are all names that had great success and were seen as pivotal to a teams success who subsequently slumped when moving teams.

        I’m sure these people didn’t just become bad at their job. Ultimately if you want a big change you need to change the structure and processes, not just the personnel and it’s rarely just a single person who brings success.

  5. Interesting. I’m curious what McLaren got back from Renault in return for releasing Fry from his relaxing garden work early.

    1. Free replacement of broken engines?

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