McLaren Staff Wars: Revenge of the Sith (Ferrari)
I mentioned the other day that there were rumours flying about senior staff at McLaren departing. McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh claimed that the two staff members in question would not be leaving, then that they would not be leaving untill the end of the year. Red Bull have confirmed they have signed Peter Prodromou and now Ferrari have announced they have contracted Nicholas Tombazis and he will start next month.
Tombazis was Chief of Aerodynaics at Ferrari previously and joined McLaren in the same position in 2004 before being promoted to Chief of Vehicle Projects. He rejoins Ferrari as Cheif Designer, replacing Aldo Costa (designer of the troublesome F2005) who gets a 'promotion' to Head of Design and Development Department, whatever that means.
We keep hearing how the departure of Adrian Newey won't affect McLaren due to the "matrix system" that he put in place to avoid critical dependencies on individuals. Even so, you can only lose so many tallented members of staff before you start to suffer and Ron Dennis knows as well as anyone that even if someone doesn't want to work for you any more, it's still in your interest to keep ahold of them to avoid them working for a competitor. He tried that with Newey, to stop him going to Jaguar a few years ago - offering Newey his choice of job description to stay at McLaren. Evidently he couldn't do the same with Tombazis. By the looks of it, Ferrari are doing the same with Aldo Costa - I mean I don't doubt that there is useful work he can do in managing the design department, but he's clearly no longer the man they want designing the cars.