Ferrari made a statement by following up the sacking of Mattia Binotto with the announcement that Head of Strategy Inaki Rueda was being replaced on the pitwall by Ravin Jain after a series of blunders in the 2022 Formula 1 season.
Officially Rueda remains in his post and Jain hasn’t been given a new title, but the decision to move Rueda back to the factory and put a different voice at the heart of raceday operations speaks volumes on Ferrari‘s determination to improve in 2023.
Like his Red Bull counterpart Hannah Schmitz, Jain is Oxbridge-educated and as a British engineer of Indian descent working for the ‘Italian national team’ he’s said the way Ferrari embraces an international workforce is part of what drew him to the Scuderia.
Jain certainly has a lot of pressure with Ferrari clearly needing to improve their strategy calls if they’re to challenge for titles in 2023, so who is the man trusted by Maranello to make those race-winning calls?
Early life and education of Ravin Jain
Aged 28 at the start of the 2023 season, Jain finished his secondary education at King Edward’s School Birmingham, but it was in Oxford where he really made a name for himself.
Attending Merton College at the university, he achieved a first-class physics degree and stayed in Oxford to complete his master’s in mathematical and theoretical physics.
Awarded a Virgin Galactic Scholarship while at the university, Jain was also involved in karting and underwent summer placements at Caterham and Williams F1 Teams in 2013 and 2014 respectively, where he gained strategy experience and learned software design and data processing and analysis.
In 2015 he earned a placement at Ferrari and after impressing the bosses at Maranello he was handed a full-time job as a mathematical modelling engineer before moving to his current role as race strategy engineer after just six months, ahead of the 2017 F1 season.
One man’s loss is another man’s gain
Ferrari looked like they were back in 2022 with a bold design concept that appeared the one to beat in the early races of the season. After Charles Leclerc won the Australian Grand Prix with Max Verstappen retiring, he held a 34-point championship lead, while Verstappen was all the way down in sixth.
However, that proved to be the high point of Ferrari‘s season as they’d only win two more races all season, thanks in part to some unbelievable strategic blunders.
In Monaco, Leclerc was undercut by the Red Bulls and then double-stacked with Carlos Sainz for his second stop turning, a first place in fourth with Red Bull‘s Sergio Perez taking the win instead.
After the late safety car at Silverstone, Ferrari elected not to pit Leclerc at all, leaving him out on used hard tyres and giving second-placed Sainz the fresher rubber – Leclerc again dropped from the lead to fourth place.
To cap it all off, at the Hungarian GP Ferrari put Leclerc on the unusable hard tyres and he sank to sixth after starting third while Verstappen roared his way up from tenth to take the win.
Strategy wasn’t the only, or even the main reason Ferrari failed to win either championship in 2022. But it was certainly sub-par and heavily contributed to Red Bull having both titles wrapped up with three races still to go.
That wasn’t lost on the Maranello bosses, and after a reshuffle it will now be Jain who takes the reins as Ferrari‘s strategy guru on the pitwall.
What next for Jain and Rueda?
At 28, it’s been a rapid rise for Jain and he’ll now be the man expected to make the all-important snap decisions on raceday.
Rueda‘s job has always been Head of Strategy and Sporting for Ferrari, and he’s been moved to a factory-based role that will incorporate more of the latter into his day-to-day work.
While neither has been promoted or demoted, it’s a pretty clear blow to Rueda while handing a huge opportunity to Jain to become one of the established strategy heads in the paddock a la Schmitz or now-Williams team principal James Vowles.
And it’s clear there’s nowhere Jain would rather be. Ahead of the 2022 British GP, Jain said: “I am proud to work for Scuderia Ferrari, an iconic Italian team, but also a place where many nationalities work together to represent the Cavallino Rampante all over the world.
“As a young British engineer, coming back to Silverstone is always special as it is the place that I first saw an F1 car in person many years ago.
“There is a rich history of British people working for Ferrari: in fact, the first British world champion, Mike Hawthorn, won the crown in 1958 driving for the Scuderia, and I am proud to add my name to that long list of drivers and engineers.
“And suffice to say that I would be very happy to hear the Italian anthem ring out over the podium come Sunday afternoon!”
Jain got his wish as Sainz claimed the first win of his F1 career, ironically despite Rueda’s strategic blunder.
Jain will be hoping to engineer more where that came from – by judgement not luck – in 2023 and beyond.