When Pat Symonds packed his bags and walked out of the front door at Williams F1, I was a little surprised and yet, not stunned. There are orbital players in F1 who came from the technical side of the sport that I’ve always had time for. Gary Anderson is one and then there is Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne—in my mind, one of the few designers that took Adrian Newey on head-to-head and won.
Pat Symonds is another technical mind of F1 and although he was banned from the sport for his role in the Renault crashgate saga, he had paid his price and slowly returned to the paddock. It was a slow process wading back into Virgin Racing as a consultant from 2009-2013. When the team parted company with Nick Wirth, it was suggested that Pat effectively took over that role as technical boss of the team.
In 2014, Symonds moved to Williams replacing Mike Coughlan, another technical boss banned from the sport for his involvement in Spygate. Williams clearly believes in the notion of redemption and I can appreciate that. Pat has worked hard to redeem himself in the F1 paddock and while his presence at Williams was initially celebrated, his tenure there was short-lived as Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe dropped sail and set a course for a return to Williams after many years of success at McLaren and Mercedes.
Recently, Symonds said he would look for a role outside F1 but today, Sky Sports F1 has announced his new appointment to their broadcast team.
Fresh out of his role as Chief Technical Officer at Williams, Symonds will provide expert analysis on what is set to be one of the most thrilling and unpredictable seasons to date on Sky Sports F1®. He will provide commentary on a selection of races throughout the year, starting with the 2017 Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix, exclusively live on Sky Sports.
Sky Sports Head of F1®, Martin Turner said:
“Pat will make a brilliant addition to our team, bringing a wealth of experience to Sky Sports F1®. His knowledge, expertise and passion will add another dimension to our analysis and enhance the viewing experience for fans as they seek to understand the new cars and regulations. In this era of Formula 1 there is no-one better to explain it.”
Symonds will join Sky Sports F1’s® team which includes Damon Hill, Martin Brundle, Johnny Herbert, Simon Lazenby, David Croft, Natalie Pinkham, Ted Kravitz, Rachel Brookes, Paul Di Resta and Anthony Davidson.
Pat Symonds commented:
“I have always been impressed with the quality and innovation of Sky’s F1® coverage. It feels like a really exciting time to join the team ahead of such an unpredictable season and with all races being shown in UHD, it will be even more visually dramatic at every turn.”
If Pat wanted to leave F1 behind, he didn’t wander far and will be an interesting addition to the Sky Sports F1 stable. I find Pat’s insight an interesting, if not alternative, view of the sport from other technical chiefs such as Gary Anderson. Pat is very much in support of the hybrid power unit and the sustainability initiative the FIA has set forth. He’s not a detractor of F1 in its current state and has usually been very endorsing of the moves the series has made including the new 2017 regulation changes.
It will be interesting to see if he is more candid in his assessment now that he is not employed by a team who have a vested interest in rubber-stamping the direction of F1.