F1 technical director, philosophy key Harman Monchaux

Not all coaches have the same philosophy. This is based on their research or background and influences their Formula 1 design.

Formula 1 mobilizes many different skills. Hydraulics, aerodynamics, mechanics, dynamics, electronics, etc. is necessary and belongs to the competence of specialists. The person who coordinates them, the technical director, may not have such a qualification, but must have an overview. However, it depends on his training, technical qualification and professional experience.

In fact, the research and professional experiences among the ten technical directors are quite diverse: mechanical engineering (Andrew Green at Aston Martin, Simone Resta at Haas and maybe soon Ferrari), industrial design (Jody Egginton at Alpha Tauri), aerodynamics (Mike). Elliott at Mercedes, Adrian Newey, Pierre Wache at Red Bull, Jean Monchaux at Alfa Romeo), engine (Matt Harman at Alpine and, until recently, François Xavier Demaison at Williams).

So how does their research affect the way these technical executives view Formula 1? We asked the question to three of them.


Alpine’s technical director (from 2022) is far from the wind tunnels where he cut his teeth. After leading Mercedes F1’s High Performance Powertrain engineering team for eleven years, Matt Harman was responsible for powertrain integration and drivetrain design at the Silver Arrows from 2011-2018.

“I think my experience allows me to understand most of the compromises and arbitrages that have to be made in an F1 car. The British explain. I have been responsible for many areas of the car over the years. My philosophy is to consider the harmony of systems, especially in certain areas such as powertrain integration. Things can often seem easier and faster in this case because you’re measuring the gains in kilowatts, but in the end, after adding up all the parasitic losses, you end up with something that’s not much faster.

“It’s the same thing on the chassis side. For example, when designing the A522, we made sure the car was as stable as possible. Our goal was to have an aero that wasn’t too sharp. For this, we worked a lot on the stiffness of the suspension. Having an aero rpm that wasn’t too aggressive allowed us to open up the operating window.”



“Your training, your experience, definitely influences your approach to the car and your technical philosophy. McLaren’s current technical director, our loyal correspondent James Key, explains. What affected me the most was when I started working on the track [comme ingénieur de données à 24 ans chez Jordan]. Trackside is a very educational place to learn what Formula 1 is all about. You can make connections between wheel behaviour, control systems, aerodynamic balance, car dynamic behaviour, parameter mechanics and car movement. the condition of the track… You can put everything in your head and get the big picture.”

“Let’s say you became a technical director after working in specific fields such as aerodynamics, vehicle dynamics or control systems engineer. If you’re an aerodynamicist, you see F1 as a collection of surfaces, and you want to optimize the volumes as much as possible, regardless of what’s inside.

“From this point of view, anything that goes against the flow of air, such as the wishbone, becomes a problem. On the other hand, if you are a mechanical engineer by training, these triangles are of fundamental importance. Depending on your background, you risk focusing on one point and losing sight of the overall context of the car.”

“My technical direction philosophy is focused on optimizing the car on the track and organizing the team to perform at track level.”

F1, technical director


James Key, unlike Jean Monchaux, studied aerodynamics (at SupAéro) like Alfa Romeo technical chief Adrian Newey or Mike Elliott.

“The presence of aerodynamicists at the head of technical departments is perhaps explained by their constant search for challenges.explains the Franco-German, who took over the technical reins of Hinwil at the beginning of August 2019.. For the engineer in charge of the suspension, the season ends after the car is presented, almost cartoonishly, as it is rare to see significant structural changes in this area during the year.”

“The pace of the aerodynamicist is different. Introduced in February, the car was frozen in December and the aero was running in races 3, 4 or 5 at that time. F1 asks aero to add performance in all races (in all cases more than any other major department).

“Aerodynamics really never stand still… These are perhaps important features for the technical director, who can never be completely satisfied and has to ensure that the team takes a similar approach. However, you must learn to separate yourself from your training because a great welder does not necessarily make a good team leader.”

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