Engineering and Design Greats: Adrian Newey: March and Leyton House…

Posted: June 3, 2015 in F1, Icons & Iconoclasts
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capelli cg 901 LH

Ivan Capelli in his Leyton House CG901 Judd, 1990…

It’s been interesting to learn about and admire the careers of the sports’ outstanding contemporary engineer/designers and those of the decades which pre-date my interest in the sport.

It’s the ones who have enjoyed enduring success I have been most drawn to. Janos’ and Chapmans’ contributions over 30 years truly amazing.

Dr Porsche, Vittorio Jano and Jim Hall predate my period of interest but Colin Chapman, Mauro Forghieri, Gordon Murray, John Barnard and Adrian Newey i have followed since 1972.


CG901 monocoque inside the teams autoclave, Bicester 1990 (Pascal Rondeau)

Newey has been ‘the man’ in F1 for the better part of 25 years with ten constuctors titles for three teams; Williams, McLaren and presently Red Bull.

Like the others he is degree trained and his practical experience is rooted in time spent as a race engineer. He is different though, in that his primary degree is in Aeronautics and Astronautics. It was the application of the science of aerodynamics, increasingly important in the overall F1 design package as regulations progressively became more restrictive in other areas, at March nee Leyton House in 1988-1991 which first brought him to the attention of Patrick Head, Frank Williams and others.


Race prep of 3 CG901 chassis in June 1990 (Pascal Rondeau)

The overall pace of the March 881 and it’s successors top speeds at different circuits made it clear they slid through the air rather nicely, better than many other cars with the same engine or considerably more grunt.

That the cars ‘batted above their weight’ made it clear he could do more with greater resources, as has been proven the case.

The 1988 March 881, powered by John Judds’ 3.5 litre V8 finished 6th in the constructors championship, in 1989 the March 891 Judd  finished 12th, drivers Mauricio Gugelmin and Ivan Capelli retiring from most of the races.

hutton cg901 LH cutaway

Drawing of the LH CG901 Judd…engine 3.5 litre V8 not 3 litre…(Peter Hutton)

In 1990 March F1 morphed into ‘Leyton House’…the Japanese company acquired the team it had previously sponsored. Neweys’ Leyton House CG901 Judd was quick in the hands of its two drivers after a mid year update of the aero package to correct ‘erroneous wind tunnel data’. Capelli lead the French Grand Prix for many laps before being passed by race winner Alain Prost. The team finished 7th in the Constructors Championship, Newey was fired and quickly hired by Williams all the same.

And the rest, as they say, is history. The 1991/2 Williams FW14 Renault, Neweys’ first Williams won 17 Grands’ Prix and Leyton House, amid allegations of financial misdemeanours and the arrest of its CEO disappeared without trace in early 1993 having changed it’s name back to March F1 for the 1992 season…

capelli from prost

Ivan Capelli LH CG 901 Judd leads Alain Prosts’ Ferrari 641 during the 1990 French GP. Wonderful 2nd place for the Italian ahead of victor Prost. (Unattributed)

capelli Lh suzuka 1990

The gorgeous lines of Capellis’ LH CG901 at Suzuka, Japanese GP 1990. Q13, DNF with ignition dramas on L16. (Unattributed)


Leyton House workshops in June 1990 (Pascal Rondeau)

cg 901 designey stuff

LH CG901 design elements. Carbon fibre chassis, suspension double wishbones, pushrod and rocker actuated coil spring/dampers front and rear. Judd EV 3496cc 76 degree DOHC 4 valve N/A V8, 660bhp. March 6 speed manual transaxle. carbon ceramic brakes. 520Kg. (Unattributed)


Estoril 21 September 1990, a practice Judd V8 engine change during the Portuguese GP weekend (Pascal Rondeau)


Peter Hutton, Pascal Rondeau

Tailpiece: Ivan Capelli, Leyton House CG901 Judd at the Allsport Studios on 15 May 1990…





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