Italian publication Gazetta dello Sport reported this morning that 41-year-old Englishman John Iley, who has been chief of aerodynamics at Ferrari since November 2003, is to leave the team at the end of this year when his current contract expires.
After a very difficult start to the season for the Maranello outfit, which was mainly due to the poor aerodynamic properties of the F60 (Ferrari's 2009 F1 car), Iley came to an agreement with the team at the end of last week to leave his day to day job with immediate effect. His job mainly concentrated on the likes of windtunnel development, and Gazetta dello Sport is quoted as saying that a "serious" design flaw in the aerodynamics of the F60 has been identified as the root cause of the car's lack of performance.
During the weekend of the German Grand Prix, team principal Stefano Domenicalli was quoted in several media reports as saying that Ferrari are now starting to shift its focus on to the 2010 car, because we are now half way through the 2009 season and the championship is clearly out of reach. The best place Ferrari can contend for in the Constructors' Championship this year is 3rd place. So the bosses at Maranello want the team to start early development work on the 2010 car to ensure that Ferrari can start challenging for both the Drivers' and Constructors' titles again. In light of the poor aerodynamic properties of the F60, the decision was taken not to involve Iley in the development work of the 2010 car. Instead, chief designer Nikolas Tombazis will take on greater responsibility for the aerodynamic development of the 2010 championship contender.
What remains to be seen is if Ferrari can really bounce back to its winning days next year. The legendary Italian marque is clearly going through a transition period right now following the departure of Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and of course Michael Schumacher - all within the last two or three years. So it is no doubt that the Prancing Horse will eventually go back to its glory days of dominating both the Drivers' and Constructors' Championships throughout the season time after time, it is just a question of when rather than if.
The next round of the World Championship is this weekend at the Hungaroring circuit near Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Until then, drive safely!