Mike Gascoyne back to Formula 1 to redesign F1 two-seater

Former Renault, Toyota and Caterham technical boss Mike Gascoyne is to return to Formula 1 to work on a redesign of its new two-seater car

Mike Gascoyne back to Formula 1 to redesign F1 two-seater

Gascoyne, who has most recently focused on his own consultancy business since stepping back from a day-to-day role at the Caterham F1 team in 2012, has been signed as the two-seater's technical director as the programme ramps up to run at every grand prix next year.

He will work alongside programme chief Paul Stoddart, who put together the deal with Gascoyne. His first event back is expected to be the Hungarian GP later this month.

One of Gascoyne's primary tasks will be to begin a redesign of the aerodynamics of the former Tyrrell two-seater chassis to make them visually more contemporary.

The hope is that the revised 2018 two-seaters will look more similar to the current generation of cars.

The revamped two-seater programme, which forms part of the new F1 Experiences push by Liberty Media, made its debut at Barcelona this year and has returned for Silverstone.

It will also run this year at the Hungaroring, Spa, Monza, Austin and Mexico City before being present at every race from 2018.

Stoddart already has 30 full-time staff working on the two-seater programme, with more than 50 attending races.

LAPPING SILVERSTONE IN THE F1 TWO-SEATER

Silverstone's high-speed swoops are a spectacular place to watch Formula 1 from the sidelines. But words cannot do justice to what the place feels like from the cockpit.

This morning I had the chance to sample that as one of the lucky passengers given a ride in the two-seater.

The professionalism and effort of the two-seater's project chief Paul Stoddart has already earned it the tag of F1's 'unofficial 11th team'.

For its second appearance of the season at Silverstone, Stoddart's crew now numbers more than 50 - looking and operating like a proper grand prix outfit.

While I've done two-seater F1 rides before - having lapped with Martin Brundle and Jean Alesi around Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina venue - the sensation at Silverstone took the experience to a completely different level.

The old-school nature of the British track, with longer, faster corners, more traditional settings - and of course busy grandstands - meant it was a totally different world.

Crammed tight in the cockpit, legs either side of former Formula 3000 driver David Saelens, the limited movement of the helmet once the headrest was in didn't hinder visibility too badly at all.

And feeling the bumps, the acceleration and the brutal braking left you in no doubt that F1 cars are sensational when they get going.

In the slow speed Brooklands bend, as Saelens battled some understeer on cold tyres through the first lap, it was easy to peer out and see where we were going.

That wasn't possible through the high-speed stuff, such as Copse and Becketts, where just keeping the head upright took a bit of effort.

What was most surprising though was how hard it was to keep your head straight ahead as we blasted down the Hangar Straight.

The rushing wind not only wanted to push my head back, but the sensation felt like it was trying to lift the helmet off. Not too pleasant as we climbed up to 200mph!

By the time the car braked into Stowe, the corner couldn't come soon enough. I never thought it would be so exhausting driving in a straight line.

Of course the main aim for the two-seater project is to offer as close an experience to F1 as possible, and to leave people raving about grand prix machinery.

It's the moment when passengers step out of the cars - always grinning - that still does it for Stoddart.

"I love seeing that," Stoddart told me after my ride. "I am looking at you now and I can see the smile on your face because you have just come out of the car - and that says it all.

"We had a passenger once who didn't have any arms and legs, and seeing him experience it got me crying.

"It is the passion from some people about this that I just love. To go in this car is unbelievable."

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Author Jonathan Noble
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