PEOPLE: PAT SYMONDS

Name: Pat Symonds
Nationality: Great Britain

Pat Symonds, Flavio Briatore, Malaysian GP 2005

Pat Symonds, Flavio Briatore, Malaysian GP 2005 

 © The Cahier Archive

Symonds started his career in the automotive world as an apprentice with the Ford Motor Company. He went on to study automotive engineering at the Cranfield Institute of Technology, graduating in 1976 with an MSc. He joined the Hawke racing car company as a designer of Formula Ford racing cars but, after two years, moved to Royale, where he met South African designer Rory Byrne.

It was the start of a relationship between the two men which continues to this day. Initially Byrne and Symonds worked on Royale Formula Ford designs but in 1979 Byrne was recruited by the Toleman team to design a Formula 2 chassis and he took Symonds with him.

The Toleman-Hart combination was very competitive with Brian Henton and Derek Warwick winning four races and finishing 1-2 in the 1980 European F2 championship.

The team then moved on to F1 in 1981 with Symonds working on research and development while also engineering Stefan Johansson in an F2 Toleman, run by Docking Spitzley Racing.

The following season Symonds became a full-time member of the Toleman F1 team, engineering Teo Fabi and Derek Warwick in 1982 and moving on to Bruno Giacomelli in 1983 and Ayrton Senna in his first season of F1 in 1984.

When Benetton took over the Toleman team Symonds continued as a race engineer, working once again with Fabi and then with Alessandro Nannini.

In 1991 Benetton decided to hire John Barnard as its technical director. Byrne and Symonds quit the team and signed-up with Adrian Reynard to design a Reynard F1 car. That project failed to get off the ground and, when Barnard fell out with Flavio Briatore, Byrne and Symonds returned to Benetton.

Pat became Michael Schumacher's race engineer, while also fulfilling the role of head of research and development. He engineered Schumacher during the controversial 1994 season when the German won the title and continued when Schumacher won his second title in 1995. When Schumacher moved to Ferrari, Symonds stayed at Benetton and after the departure of technical director Ross Brawn and was appointed technical director in November 1996. The arrival of Mike Gascoyne led to his translation to a new role as Executive Director of Engineering in 2001 and he remained in that role when Gascoyne was replaced by Bob Bell. He remains a key figure in the team, recently moving to a more senior position as advisor to team boss Flavio Briatore.

Renault as executive engineer, working with technical director Mike Gascoyne.

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