Mark Smith

© Caterham, 27 January 2012

© Caterham
Technical Director, Caterham
Nationality : British
Date of Birth : 9th March, 1961

Mark Smith grew up in a village called Pelsall which is about 15 miles north of Birmingham.

His first motorsport interest was motocross and as a youngster he competed for two years before eventually discovering Formula 1. His first Grand Prix was Silverstone 1981 which John Watson won. He immediately got the F1 bug and then spent a few years going to three or four European races per season and quickly became a firm fan. Smith left school to undertake a technical apprenticeship with GKN Automotive who sponsored him to undertake a mechanical engineering degree course at the Polytechnic of Wolverhampton and he left there with a first class honours degree in 1984.

Smith knew he wanted to work in motor racing but had to be patient and find an inroad. His first job in the industry was in 1988 at Comtec, the composites wing of March Engineering and he spent six months there working on project engineering. From there Smith joined Reynard Racing Cars in 1989 and started working with Gary Anderson, firstly on the 1990 F3000 car. That was his first experience of working in a drawing office and he was given a blank sheet of paper to work on the gearbox, which was somewhat daunting. The end result of that was actually the first ever transverse gearbox in F3000 and then in 1990 Anderson was asked by Eddie Jordan if he would take on Jordan’s F1 project, so three people, Gary Anderson, Andrew Green and Smith, designed the first Jordan car which finished fifth in the constructors’ championship in its first year which was a magical experience.

Smith then stayed with Eddie Jordan for 11 years, seeing the technical team grow from three to around eighty. For the first six or seven years he was responsible for the gearboxes, hydraulic systems and some composite work, and was then appointed head of mechanical design, and then joint chief designer. He overlapped with Mike Gascoyne for the last couple of years he was there, firstly when Gascoyne was chief designer and then working with him when he was made technical director.

Gascoyne then went to Renault and Smith joined him there in 2000 as chief designer. He thoroughly enjoyed that role as they joined at a time when Renault had just bought the Benetton team which was going through a lean spell and three years later the team had progressed enough to win the Hungarian GP in 2003.

 

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