John Barnard has some useful thoughts and opinions for racing's rule makers.

Back in the eighties and nineties, John Barnard was one of the sport's most influential racing car designers. Barnard first made his mark in the mid-seventies by revolutionizing USAC Championship racing with the Parnelli VPJ6B and 6C Indy cars which brought the Coworth DFX turbo V-8 to USAC and then CART. A few years later he designed and produced for Jim Hall the equally revolutionary Chaparral 2K, the first real, ground-effect Indy car.

Barnard's success with Indy cars prompted Ron Dennis to hire him and Barnard became technical director of the newly-minted McLaren International team. Dennis was the managing director and chief shareholder in company with Barnard and Creighton Brown, and also Teddy Mayer and Tyler Alexander, co-owners of the original McLaren team.

Barnard designed the ground-breaking McLaren MP4/1 which was the first carbon-chassised Formula 1 car and in 1984 Dennis, Brown and Barnard bought Mayer and Alexander's shares in the team. After switching from Ford/Cosworth to TAG/Porsche turbo engines, McLaren's Barnard-penned cars won the F1 world championship with Niki Lauda in 1984 and Alain Prost in 1985 and '86.

At the end of 1986, Barnard was head-hunted by Enzo Ferrari and worked as the Italian team's technical director for three years before moving to the Benetton team for a few years. Barnard returned to Ferrari in 1992 for a five-year stint through early 1997 in which he witnessed the beginning of the Schumacher era chez Ferrari. Barnard worked for the Arrows team from the spring of 1997 though '98, then spent a few years as a consultant to Alain Prost's team.

Since then Barnard has been out of Formula 1. His B3 Technologies company, based in Guildford, southwest of London, does all kinds of design and consulting work.

Barnard also spent a year doing work for Kenny Roberts' Moto GP team and has become a big fan of two-wheeled racing. Barnard and his wife, Rosemary, have two adult daughters, Jennifer and Gillian, and a son, Michael, who's in his final year at university. John is enjoying a slower pace of life these days and contemplating retiring to Switzerland.

"I come into B3 Technologies most days to sort through my emails and talk to my managing guys here," Barnard says. "Then I disappear home and do all sorts of things from hacking away at the rhododendrons to anything and everything."

Recently, Max Mosley and the FIA have been talking a lot about F1 adopting green technology in 2011. Barnard chuckles at the prospect, believing a move in this direction should have been initiated by the FIA ten years ago.

"I did an interview a few weeks ago for a TV show that's being produced about green technology and I said in this interview that to be honest, I think Formula 1 has missed the boat," Barnard remarked. "I think Formula 1 should have been entering into it ten years ago. It should have been going on for a long time.

"I do think the first step really is to avoid wasting energy," he added. "The first problem you've got is there is so much energy wasted. The energy expelled during braking, for example, as well as the heat expended by the engine."

Barnard points out that the technology to convert waste energy into power or electricity is becoming more and more common in road cars but remains untouched by racing cars.

"You've had electronic retarders on lorries for donkey's years and there's all sorts of stuff like that that could be incorporated," Barnard said. "Just now, BMW have launched the new 1-Series which has got the stop-engine technology for city driving so that every time you stop the engine stops. I think it's got electronically-clutched alternators so that they only generate when you're braking. So when you're trying to lose energy they are producing energy into the battery.

"That's just coming on road cars now and where is it on a Formula 1 car? Nowhere. I think that's terribly wrong. I think racing should be pushing the limits on all those technical issues. If they had done that I think these technologies would have accelerated much faster than they have done."

To read the rest of this Gordon Kirby column and other 'The Way It Is' columns go to www.gordonkirby.com

 

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