In an interview, Aston Martin F1 technical director Dan Fallows talked about how he left Red Bull Racing and what he learned from Adrian Newey.
Dan Fallows has been in the spotlight for a long time before moving from Red Bull Racing to Aston Martin F1 and has garnered quite a bit of coverage in the motorsport media. But Dan Farrows says he’s not keen on that kind of limelight.
“It’s embarrassing, especially when you have a friend who sends you a message with a link to the article,” said Dan Fallows.
“I’ve never really been interested in that sort of thing. I’m not in for publicity. All I’m interested in is making fast cars.”
Dan Farrows’ key role in winning nine F1 titles shows that he is good at building fast cars. .
But he’s actually pretty good at what Dan Fallows calls “the sort of thing.” He is personable, insightful and generous with his time. He spoke to Aston Martin F1’s official website about his six months as technical director.
What is life like in Aston Martin F1? Any surprises?
It’s been a fascinating trip so far, but I’ve only been here a few months. The most impressive thing for me is that Aston Martin F1 still feels like a race team.
When a team grows a lot in a very short amount of time, it becomes cumbersome and prevents proper communication between departments. But the line of communication here is very simple and clear. We need to make sure we don’t lose it.
I am really impressed with the quality of people at Aston Martin F1. Engineering talent is at the level it really needs to be. Great idea, really great creativity.
Just having a unified clarity of purpose is not enough. I would love to help make that happen. From the very beginning of car design, it’s important to look at what you’re trying to achieve on the racetrack.
When you chose to join Aston Martin F1, you left behind one of the most successful F1 teams of all time – a team you helped build and contributed to its success. why?
I wanted a new challenge. The most rewarding moments in my career have been when challenges have been presented to me and I have overcome them.
It’s not just a challenge, it’s also an opportunity to participate in something that goes from the modest to the spectacular. Aston Martin F1 has serious ambitions, starting with Lawrence Stroll and right down to the entire team.
So it’s incredibly exciting given the resources I have as well as being asked to join the team’s journey. Someone puts that level of trust in them so they can effectively say, ‘This is a Formula 1 team. Turn it into what you want, get the people you want, run it the way you want it, make it successful.” to be successful.
I took up this challenge because I felt that things could be done differently. Not the Red Bull way, not the Mercedes way, not the Ferrari way. Come up with a better way, the Aston Martin way.
If you stay in the same place and succeed, you keep doing the same thing and it gets boring.
Are there any similarities between the early Red Bull F1 project and Aston Martin’s F1 project?
One of the most exciting parts of Red Bull’s journey was when the team evolved from Jaguar. A small team with a very limited budget suddenly had a massive increase in budget, resources, and technical capabilities at the top of the organization.
Watching the team grow, being part of that growth, being part of its success, making mistakes along the way and even learning from them, it was incredibly inspiring. What is happening now with Aston Martin F1 is very similar to what happened with Red Bull back then.
What did you learn from working with Adrian Newey?
Adrian learned a lot from him. Everyone knows how talented he is as a designer, but those who haven’t worked with him don’t realize how humble he is technically. He has no technical arrogance.
He’s willing to let go of an idea when evidence emerges in favor of a different approach.
Of course, we believe in our ideas and what we think is right, but if something or someone brings us evidence that a different idea is better, we will change our minds. Never be afraid to do things differently. That’s what matters and that’s what I learned from Adrian.
I left Red Bull last June and took a gardening break for nine months. what were you doing during that time?
I used this time to reflect on the eight years I was in charge of the aero department at Red Bull. The mistakes I made, the things I did well, the things I tried that worked, and the things I tried that didn’t work.
I established what I wanted to be as a technical leader. How do I want people to perceive me? What kind of people do I want around me? How do you want your technical team to work?
By the time I joined Aston Martin F1, I had a clear idea of how I wanted things to run and how people within the team should interact and communicate.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
In the past, I tried to give people too much power. Empowering people is the right way to manage, but you can give someone too much power and quickly feel that the freedom you are giving is unsupported.
I want to give people room to make mistakes so that they are not afraid to make mistakes. We want to learn from it, but not so much that they feel unbound. I’ve learned that a little intervention, guidance at the right time, can put people at ease and keep them from feeling too far off the right track.
Reuniting with former Red Bull colleagues in July, Eric Blandin joined Aston Martin F1 as deputy technical director. What is it like to reunite the band?
It’s great to work with Eric again. Because there are so many shortcuts for people you’ve worked with before. The same is true, for example, of Andrew Alessi, the head of technical operations with whom I worked at Red Bull.
Of course, I think Eric was a little unsure as to whether opinions were divided, as he had a completely different experience with Ferrari and Mercedes recently. But from a technical point of view, it quickly became clear that they still had a lot in common.
He’s also really committed to the idea of not doing things the Mercedes way or the Red Bull way, but instead finding a better way.