One of the most experienced and knowledgeable engineers working in the paddock Paul Monaghan’s F1 career encompasses almost three decades of high achievement.
Paul’s Formula 1 journey began soon after he had gained his Masters’ degree in Mechanical Engineering when he began working at McLaren in 1990. Working on the cars driven by the legendary Ayrton Senna and team-mate Gerhard Berger had a big impact on the young engineer and Paul would spend the rest of the decade at the Woking team, eventually rising to the position of data engineer, working alongside two people who would both reappear later in his career: driver David Coulthard and Adrian Newey.
In 2000, seeking a new challenge, Paul moved from McLaren to the struggling Benetton squad, which was in the process of becoming the Renault F1 Team. Initially Paul worked as a performance engineer but in mid-season he took on the role of Race Engineer for Jenson Button. After Button moved on, Monaghan began working with Renault’s exciting new prospect Fernando Alonso. Paul recalls the period as “hugely exciting, very rewarding – and not without its disagreements.” It was also successful, with Alonso taking his first F1 victory with Monaghan on the pitwall.
Moving on for 2005, Paul narrowly avoided joining Red Bull Racing at the inception of the project: when he was approached by Christian Horner he had already committed to the Jordan F1 team, then under new ownership by the Midland Group. When that project failed to ignite, Paul took up the offer from Red Bull Racing and arrived in Milton Keynes towards the end of the year.
"You could tell straight away that there was a different philosophy within the team," he says. "It was one of 'right, we want to go and win this’, as opposed to just being in it and surviving. It was a breath of fresh air, a team that was clearly ambitious and serious – but with an element of fun to it."
Paul’s original title was Head of Race and Test Engineering. Over time this has transitioned into the role of Chief Engineer, Car Engineering, a position that sees him responsible for extracting maximum performance from the team’s machinery across a grand prix weekend and turning racing concepts into real-world performance gains.
Over his 14 seasons at the Team, that process has resulted in some spectacular successes, but it’s the Team’s first Constructors’ Championship, in 2010, that still stands out most.
"It was... not surreal, but it was a case of wanting to believe we were going to do it, yet having never climbed that type of ascent before, occasional doubts would creep in. When we won the Constructors' Championship in Brazil, it was enormously rewarding. The team title is the culmination of every single person's efforts: whether at the factory or trackside, the whole team is battling with its rivals to be the most successful, to be the best in the world."
That mission begins anew again this year, as the team heads into a new era with a new engine partner and with a revised set of technical regulations in force. Working in tandem with Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey, Technical Director Pierre Wache, Chief Engineering Officer Rob Marshall and Chief Engineer – Aerodynamics Dan Fallows, Paul will once again be seeking to deliver maximum performance from the RB15 and a new generation of Red Bull Racing cars. It’s a task he never tires of, concluding: “It's hugely rewarding for every single person that's associated with it, myself included.”