Caterham have announced a significant reshuffle, with the technical director Mark Smith to leave the team ‘with immediate effect’. Smith will not be replaced by another director but rather a ‘technical committee’, who will oversee all technical and operational activities both on and off the track.
The committee will include John Iley, the current performance director, Jody Egginton, the recently promoted deputy technical director and Gerry Hughes, who was recently given the chief engineer responsibility.
Each member of the committee will be responsible for specific areas and will report directly to the Team Principal, Cyril Abiteboul. John Iley, the former McLaren and Ferrari Head of Aerodynamics, will be responsible for “all performance aspects of the car, including Aerodynamics and Vehicle Performance”. Jody Egginton has taken on the Head of Design and Manufacturing and will be overseeing “a more integrated and seamless design, manufacturing and rig testing process” . Cost, quality and time were stated to be ‘key drivers’ for this portfolio. Lastly, Gerry Hughes will move to Head of Track Operations, which includes his previous role as chief engineer as well as now the “overall management of track activities and personnel”.
It has only been eight months since the teams last restructure, and this may provide an insight into the mood inside the garage. Rumours that the team is up for sale have been circulating for some time now, and with unfortunate results so far this year and in 2013, the departure of Smith only serves to flame the fire. The team has not scored a point since they joined the grid ahead of the 2010 season.
Caterham Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul felt that the part was amicable but the implication was that due to the performance – or lack thereof – it was inevitable.
“We and Mark part company on good terms and with our best wishes for the future,” he said.
“It was obviously a tough decision to see someone of Mark’s calibre go, but we have identified the need to restructure as a key aspect of increasing our on-track performance and forming a new Technical Committee composed of John, Jody and Gerry will allow us to do exactly that.”
“After investing last year in our new factory, and over the winter in aerodynamic development capacity, the new structure gives three specialists we are lucky to have with us the opportunity to use their experience, passion and dedication to help us progress. We are not happy with our current performance levels and John, Jody and Gerry, with my full support and that of our shareholders, staff and partners, are the right people to help take us forward.”
Smith leaves after three years with the team, and it will be interesting to see if a committee can do what a single person is usually responsible for.
Image via Sutton Images (Text from the paddock in Barcelona!)