Pat Fry returning to Renault F1 team
Engineer was at the team from 1987 to 1993
The Renault Formula 1 team confirmed Saturday that Pat Fry will be the new technical leader at the Enstone-based team, “following the end of his current contractual obligations” the team said in a statement.
“I am delighted to be able to work with Pat again. His arrival is yet another step as we build and improve our team structure,” Marcin Budkowski, Renault Sport Racing UK Executive Director said. “Pat’s experience, talent and determination will be additional assets as we continue our progress.”
This will mark the 55-year-old’s return to the team, which he initially joined in 1987, when it was known as Benetton. He had cut his teeth with the defense company Thorn EMI, working on missile designs, but his passion was motorcycling racing. While looking for a job in two-wheeled sport he stumbled upon an advertisement from Benetton seeking an electronics engineer to design an active suspension system.
Working initially under Pat Symonds, he soon became a race engineer and worked with Michael Schumacher during his Benetton years. He was then hired by McLaren to work with the team in 1993 and stayed in Woking for the next 17 years, moving up through various engineering roles to become the project leader of two World Championship-winning cars. He was then lured to Ferrari, where he was given the role of technical director (chassis) in 2010. It was a turbulent time for Ferrari, and when James Allison was hired in 2014, Fry moved into a new role as engineering director before deciding to become a consultant engineer. He consulted initially with Manor F1 and then with McLaren, which took him on in 2018 as a stop-gap after Matt Morris quit the team and James Key could not join because of contractual delays.
Fry led the team that produced this year’s McLaren but left after Key arrived. It remains to be seen what role he will take at Enstone, but the whisper is that he will not be replacing anyone and will work with technical director Nick Chester and executive director Marcin Budkowski as the team works to strengthen its engineering team.
This year, Renault has been somewhat shown up by the performance of Fry’s McLaren, which has highlighted the need for Renault to strengthen its chassis department. The hiring of Fry follows a restructuring of the team’s aerodynamic department, which was announced Friday.