Chief Aerodynamicist 1991 - 2002

Geoff Willis

Southampton born Geoff Willis joined the Williams team from Leyton House in 1990 and brought with him CFD experience that would contribute to the team's most glorious time in the sport, winning at least one championship in five of the next six years.

After graduating from Cambridge University with a degree in Engineering, Geoff joined engineering consultancy BMT whilst completing a PhD in hydrodynamic engineering.

In 1987, he was invited to join the design team of the British America’s Cup Challenge team where he spent three years working on keel and hull design, and testing and developing computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tools (using computers to simulate the flow of fluids).

Geoff Willis joined Leyton House in 1990 as a consultant where he pioneered the use of CFD tools in the development of Formula 1 car aerodynamics and first worked alongside Adrian Newey.

When, in 1990, it became clear Leyton House were in serious financial difficulty, both Newey and Willis moved to Williams.

At Williams, Geoff’s reputation would steadily grow, and his significant contribution would help the team to titles in 1992 (constructors & drivers), 1993(x2), 1994 and 1996(x2).

When Newey left Williams to go to McLaren in 1996, Willis was given the role of Chief Aerodynamicist, and, together with Gavin Fisher led development of the FW19 which would win Williams’ last titles to date, winning both the drivers and constructors championships.

Two lean years followed in 1998 and 1999 as significant changes in key personnel and engine supply left the team adrift of the teams at the front of the field.

More success was to follow though, as Wiliams embarked on a six year deal with BMW that would allow the team to once again compete for wins and championships.

He remained with Williams until 2002 when he left to join former Williams driver Jenson Button at the BAR team as Technical Director.

At BAR, Willis was instrumental in guiding the team to second place in the constructor’s championship behind Ferrari. There he remained until 2006 when Honda’s investment and influence grew and he was effectively replaced by one of their own men.

Red Bull Racing was next in 2007 where, as Technical Director and working alongside former colleague Adrian Newey, he guided the team from midfield mediocrity to within a whisker of World Championship glory, leaving in 2009, a season shy of the team’s domination of Formula 1 for the next four years.

A short spell at the fledgeling Hispania Racing Team followed in 2010, but little over a year later, when the team failed to guarantee the financial backing to allow for the design of the 2012 car, Willis left the team, and joined Mercedes as Technology Director.

At Mercedes Willis would finally experience major success as the team won every title from 2014 to 2019.

Categories: Team


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