Work / Life: Principal Aerodynamicist

A day in the life of…
Ettore Griffini, Principal Aerodynamicist

What are you responsible for in your job? What does that involve, what do you do, who with?
I am one of the principal aerodynamicists in the aero department. I am responsible for the development of the front end of the car, with my main focus on the front wing, front suspension, drums and nose.

In my team there are many bright aerodynamicists with different experience and skill sets and my main task is to ensure they all work together with strong commitment and passion to deliver concepts able to bring the best performance in the shortest possible time.

It is quite a challenging task, not only for the tight deadlines and the pressure typical of the job, but also because a well-developed front end can control the flow of air behind the tyres, which can improve the driveability. Having a cleaner air flow can also facilitate development of the rest of the car, which ultimately means more downforce.

Describe a typical day in your job.
I tend to be at work quite early in the morning and my first task is to read the wind tunnel diary from the night shift, have a short debrief with the wind tunnel crew and get up to speed with the status of the jobs in progress. Then I look at the latest CFD results with my team and, based on the maturity of the concept in development, we decide whether we should commit to a wind tunnel programme or not.

The rest of the day revolves around technical discussions with other teams like VPG (vehicle performance group) or DO (design office), meetings and emails. I tend to save some time late in the afternoon to think about new concepts, get up to speed with the latest regulation changes and fulfil the daily managerial tasks for my team.

How did you get the job? What is your background and why did you take this job?
I studied in Turin (Italy) where I got my degree in Aerospace. After some time at the Fiat Research Centre and Alenia Aerospace, I had the opportunity to join Ferrari in 2000 as a junior aerodynamicist. After seven enjoyable years where I was part of a team able to win six F1 championships, I had the opportunity to progress my career at Renault as Project Leader in 2007. I spent seven years in what later became Lotus F1, later moving up to the position of Principal Aerodynamicist.

After a two-year stint at McLaren, which was a very interesting experience from a technical and managerial point of view, I had another opportunity to re-join Enstone, just when Renault took over again. It felt like coming home. Enstone is a unique place because there is a combination of a committed organisation able to win championships and a nice working environment where I had many good memories.

What is your most memorable moment…
The 2013 season. In particular, the victory in Melbourne and the second place in Barcelona (I was there), both with Kimi Räikkönen.

And the worst part of your job…?
Sometimes the routine. Also the disappointment when a track test does not confirm the expected results of CFD and the wind tunnel, although fortunately this does not happen often!

The best part of your job then…
When we find performance in CFD and the wind tunnel and new parts are released to full scale and deliver the expected gains, making the car faster.

What do you do after work? How do you unwind?
I spend as much time as possible with my family. I also like DIY during the weekend and riding my motorbike at any opportunity, weather permitting!

What do you do before going to sleep?
I relax watching good movies.

Plan B… If you weren’t doing your job, what would you have done instead? Open a Vineria – a typical Italian wine bar serving quality wine, cured meat and local cheese.