Anderson: the man designing the Midland

When highly-respected technical director Gary Anderson quit Jordan at the end of 2003 it was obvious he had grown weary of the stresses and strains of Formula 1. Yet less than two years later, Anderson is back working for Dallara on behalf of Midland F1.'s Jonathan Noble found out the reasons for his change of heart

Anderson: the man designing the Midland

Anderson has been at the cutting edge of Formula 1 car design ever since he first penned that beautiful Jordan 191 for the team's debut season in 1991. After his career path took him away from the Silverstone outfit, for a brief spell at Stewart Grand Prix and then Jaguar Racing prior to a season in Champ Cars, his return in Jordan in 2002 did not deliver the kind of results that had been the hallmark of his earlier career.

Frustrated in part by the cash constraints that hindered Jordan's chances of success, and perhaps a little burned out after such a sustained period of car design, Anderson decided early in 2003 to pack it in and quit working full-time in F1. His email address, quoting 'sanityatlast' said everything about his mind-set.

So when plans for a Midland F1-backed Dallara project first surfaced last year, it was no surprise to hear that at first Gary Anderson rejected an offer from the team for his input into the project. Soon after, however, Anderson had a change of heart that has resulted in him taking on board an advisory role for Dallara.

Speaking to just prior to the confirmation of Midland's takeover of the Jordan Grand Prix team, Anderson explains exactly what his new role with the team is - and how far advanced Midland's plans for 2006 are.

After the team was announced, Dallara contacted me and asked if I would be interested in heading up the project. At that time they were looking for someone full-time, and I didn't want to do that. So I said no. Then they asked me if I would do some consultancy work with them and I said I couldn't see any reason why not. I went down and had a meeting with them and initially it was a very short term thing. It was almost a case of kick starting it and getting it moving in the right direction. Gianpaolo Dallara is a very nice old boy and very difficult to say no to when he gets onto you. We got on pretty well, the team of people down there are pretty good, and there was the chance to do it with a clean sheet of paper. I still don't want to do it full-time, so as long as they can come up with a system that will allow me to work part-time and do the best job I can, I am happy. We managed to put that together and started to do that from the beginning of December.

Why did I want to get involved in it again? I think that it is the only team for a long, long time that is starting a brand new F1 outfit. All the rest have come from sportscars, like Toyota and Sauber, and even Jordan came from F3000. They have all come in from being a racing team elsewhere. The difference with Alex Shnaider and his compatriots is that it is with a clean sheet of paper and we are starting from new - that is the attraction for me. We are not carrying any dead wood. The guys at Dallara, having had a clean sheet of paper, are doing something quite nice. It is myself and three other people who have had some F1 experience and, at the moment, it is running with about 35 staff - so it is a heavily driven Dallara project and I am steering it as best as I can. I have got no pressure or contract - I am just quietly getting on with the job and enjoying it. When I stop enjoying it I might not do it anymore, but it is fine at the minute.

For me at the minute I am designing the car. I am not as such part of Midland because it is still in its infancy and it is early days, so they have got a few people over here setting up premises, the team and all that sort of stuff. I am concentrating on designing the car. We have got a good solid team of people over at Dallara, it is just that you have to use a different philosophy - it is about building a car with 80kg of ballast, some of them have never done that before; it is about being very conservative with the design of things and throw some things away, so it is quite a nice relationship. We are actually making bits now and the bits that are being made, in the 13-years that I have been involved in F1, I would consider them to be nice bits. You never get this sport out of your blood. After F1 I did a bit of stuff in America and sportscar racing and did my commentary for RTE and really enjoyed it, but where I will go to in the future I don't know. I don't want to be contracted or under pressure, I am doing it because I enjoy doing it.

Unless something falls apart, the engine we use in September will be the engine we race with in 2006. That talk is in its last throws hopefully. I am not really involved in that, because to be honest with the way it is going to be, I will deal with the people who are going to supply our engines but only from the point of how we see the supply, how many engines we will need, what our mileage will be - all that sort of stuff. The next decision is somebody signing the cheque and that is somebody else's decision rather than mine. The car in September will be an A-version of the car we will race in 2006. Regulations wise hopefully it will be stable for 2006.

I think F1 is stuck in its own little rut by telling itself how bad it is, but there is nothing much wrong with it. I don't think that people should get upset about the new tyre rules or engine regulations, because I think they are good constructive changes. Let's say for example that Jordan can only get a V10 engine for next year (2006), that is actually a good thing. If, for example, Jordan has a Toyota engine, and Toyota build a V8 engine, you can still identify the works team quite easily and you can set the performance of the V10 engines at the same level as the works teams' V8. It is easy enough to do with a rev-limiter. Three times a year you should get an upgrade, so three times a year at a certain point you say, the Toyota works engine is delivering 780bhp so the rev limit on the V10 will match that. At the moment it is impossible to match the works teams because the smaller teams cannot afford that. There are lots of ways to keep a small team competitive against the big teams with regards to the engines.

If you look at Sauber as an example, or even BAR last year, they have taken their car which was built for Bridgestones, strapped some Michelins on and gone out and been on the pace. There are some characteristic differences, but it doesn't change the concept of the car. A few years ago it may have done, before Bridgestone made the big front tyres because of weight distribution reasons, but now you want as big a front tyre as you can get on it and you want as much weight forward as you can get.

I think we are looking at having the race cars available from early January. It is about making sure that the race team structure can cope with it because we will have to go and do some tests which are similar to race weekends. So you do need the cars up and running, that has got to be evolved. At the moment we are just working on the build of our first car. It is about regulations and stuff. I hope they don't get into making any drastic changes - like banning traction control.

Our car will not be ready to race in 2005 and it will remain a 2006 project. The bits that are being made are pretty good bits, and I think the package looks alright.

At this point of time I believe it could be a good package. If some of the negotiations going on out there come off then it could be a very good package. There are a couple of things we need to sort out, but that is the same with everything, but we are not building this as a car to just going motor racing with - we are building it to be competitive. Going up against Ferrari, Williams and McLaren is a task, and we are not looking at them. What we are saying is that if we can be competitive in the midfield then we will be pretty happy about it. We want to be able to pick up points when they come available. The top eight places are pretty tough, the next two to four are not easy, but if my vision comes off, then those next two to four places are possible for us. Then we will see what happens.

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