Rory Byrne ranks among the most successful engineers in Formula One - despite having qualified as industrial chemist in his native South Africa. A keen model glider pilot in his youth - he and brother Gavin bagged a world championship in the discipline as teenagers - his designs are renowned for their meticulous detail and aerodynamic efficiency.
Since 1986, Byrne's cars have won 99 Grands Prix, with Michael Schumacher taking 80 of his 84 Formula One wins and all seven world titles in cars penned by the quiet 62-year-old, who 'retired' from Formula One to a Thai beach in 1996. His peace was shattered by a telephone call from Ferrari Sporting Director Jean Todt.
Following the call-up to be reunited with the technical and operations team which gave Schumacher his first two titles (and captured for Benetton a constructors' championship), Byrne, a seriously keen amateur diver, gave up on plans to establish an aquatic school based at one of Thailand's most under-dived beaches. In early 1997, he returned to the sport as Chief Designer for the famous marque, and the rest is, as they say, history.
At the end of 2004, however, Byrne began handing over design responsibility to Aldo Costa, his assistant of many years. Earlier this week, at the launch Ferrari's 248 F1 car, Costa was visibly emotional as he took the limelight alongside his mentor.