F1 Testing Review

Barcelona:Circuit De Catalunya Day 1. 

The first day of any test is full of anticipation of what is going to happen and today was no exception. Were Ferrari going to continue with there Jerez table topping pace? Where Mercedes going to dominate the lap totals? Can Mclaren and Honda add some reliability to the MP4-30? and has Ikea got enough in stock in their depot to build a Sauber for the week? 
The test ended with Pastor Maldonado on top in the Lotus E23. Lotus had a troubled morning with two break downs at turn 5 which almost begged the question of a possible curse on the team. This was quickly dispelled however and at the end of the day on the soft tyre the E23 had pace. 
The day started with the news that after only 11 laps Lewis Hamilton could not continue due to a bout of man flu. 
This then prompted the question of why Nico Rosberg was not suited up but reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein was called up. Especially when he was already working up the pit lane in the Force India garage!
It was said by the team that they didn’t want to ‘overuse’ Nico but later in the day it was revealed that he had a trapped nerve in his neck. Whatever the reason it was clear that Mercedes don’t want to get into a ‘he had more testing time than me’ scenario. 
Sergio Perez took over the duties at Force india and Wehrlein had the honour of on paper, being in two places at once. 
Ferrari did continue form where they left off in Jerez and began topping the time sheet from almost the first run of the day. With the news that there Australia aero package is to arrive in the second test it is again, a good sign that the Ferrari has some genuine pace. Has Vettel made the right move at the right time and has Alonso left at the wrong time? Have Ferrari built a car that is fast straight out of the box and one that can bring the fight to Mercedes? 
Fernando was not driving the Mclaren today instead Jenson Button was at the wheel and he made a positive start putting the Mclaren at the sharp end of the time sheet and on two occasions posting the fastest time. Although there are still gremlins the car is starting to look fast and the Honda engines unique sound is getting more and more angry as the power is cranked up. Their day was cut short by a power unit problem that promoted an engine change. The cause of the problem was a seal that has to be re-designed and will not be ready until Saturday. Alonso has been brought forward to drive tomorrow but it is not known if the part that failed before will fail again. 
The other main event of the day was the very unusual event of two cars colliding in a test. This privilege went to Philipe Nasr and Suzy Wolf. They caused a 20 minute red flag as they came together and ended up in the gravel with Nasr losing his rear wing. As the dust settled it appeared that it was Nasr who was at fault. 
Red bull had a quite day and only managed a few laps in the morning but came out in the afternoon and did some more running. We have yet to see the best of the RB11 but things are looking good. 
As we head into the second day it will be interesting to see what the fastest time of the test will be as the times today already beat those posted in last years qualifying and what are Mercedes going to do if Lewis is ill and Nico does have a bad neck and cannot test. Does their programme cater for Wehrlein and will they ultimately be losing some valuable testing time? We wait and see………….

Barcelona:Circuit De Catalunya Day 2. 

Today we reach day 2 of the test and the half way mark for all of the  winter testing. It was another sunny day in Barcelona and all the teams were out running their cars.
Mercedes started the day with Nico at the wheel but after 66 laps he got out and swapped over sighting the neck problem he has picked up with Lewis who was feeling better after yesterdays ‘fever’.
Lewis managed 89 laps and revealed that he had done a race simulation. In fact he said they have been doing them since the first test! Does this point to the fact that the silver arrows squad is in cruise mode, well ahead of the game? It will be very interesting to see when they start to crank it up a bit. 
Before Lewis got into the car Nico was well ahead in completed lap times so was the swap more of a even-stevens tactic?
Ferrari had another solid day and the new team principle Maurizio Arrivabene gave a press conference where he played things pretty cool and said that they are not interested in being winter champions and were not looking to start shouting about winning races and championships. 
One clue to there form could be the his admission that Kimi is smiling in the garage and some team members have even asked him if he is feeling okay? 
He did also confirm that they will be supplying 2014 engines to the now out of administration Manor F1 team. 
Mclaren had a good day and ran all day putting 59 laps on the board suparsing the expectation that the same seal that failed yesterday would fail again. Fernando commented that he had a ‘beautiful day’ in the car and is very confident that the winning way is not far off. 
Honda chief Yasuhisa Arai said that the final engine design has been completed even though there is another week to go before the engine homologation.  
Eric Boullier said that the team had done more than they expected to do and in doing so may be able to bring some of the planned upgrades to the next test. He even hinted that they may do a race simulation before they leave for Australia. 
Red Bull started to look promising as they finally had a solid day and not only finished top of the times with Ricciardo but completed the most laps of the day with 143 chalked up. Within those laps was a full race simulation.  
Other things to note were that Williams also had a good day with Massa finishing up in third place and GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer took command of the Lotus and had a solid day completing 77 laps. The team tweeted that he had done a good job but it remains to be seen if the lotus has pace. 
There is rain forecast for tomorrow so it could be a day of keeping dry but one thing is for sure, there will be something to report…..i hope!
Barcelona Day Two Timesheet 
1. Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:24.574, 143 laps;
2. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:24.584, 90 laps;
3. Massa, Williams, 1:24.672, 88 laps;
4. Perez, Force India, 1:24.702, 121 laps;
5. Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:24.923, 89 laps;
6. Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:25.556, 66 laps;
7. Alonso, McLaren, 1:25.961, 59 laps;
8. Palmer, Lotus, 1:26.280, 77 laps;
9. Ericsson, Sauber, 1:27.334, 113 laps;
10. Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:28.945, 100 laps.

Barcelona:Circuit De Catalunya Day 3. 

The rain in spain comes mostly on the third day of testing and although there was not a real downpour there was some showers that played a little bit of havoc with some of the teams running plans. 
Mclaren had more than a shower to scupper their day as the greatly anticipated re-designed seal did not live up to expectation and this resulted in Jenson not getting the full day he wanted in the car completing 24 laps in total. He was sidelined for a while over the lunch period when the car stopped suddenly on track and then when he re-appeared the engine was turned down and the team concentrated on aero set up. 
Speaking afterward Button commented on the fact that he has yet to drive the car in anger. So still a lot of work to do for the Anglo Japanese squad.
Maldonado once again finished on top of the time sheet when he did a run on the super soft tyre and Max Verstappen second again on the super soft. Pastor is sounding positive about the form of the Lotus E23 saying that it was more of a complete package. The Mercedes power unit must be a big step up in that package. 
Lewis Hamilton was back in the seat for Mercedes and did another 100 laps. He managed third on the time sheet but this was done on the soft tyre which is beginning to point to the real pace of the silver arrow. Lewis was still feeling unwell and will be looking forward to a break and a change to recover for the final test next week. 
Ferrari had another solid day except from when Vettel put the car in the gravel during an outlap causing a red flag. Vettel sounds upbeat about the car and their season prospects but whatever happens it is clear that the team and the car have made some big steps forward. 
The up and down testing season of RedBull continued as the Renault power unit gave them some trouble but Kyvat managed some good lap times matching that of  race winner Ricciardo. However the issue of whether Ferrari have overtaken them in the performance stakes is becoming more and more likely. Renault are still playing catch up. how long before they pull out or RedBull move engine supplier? 
Williams had a troubled day also as the rain stopped a lot of their plans. Massa ran in the morning and did some long runs but after lunch poor Bottas was confined to pit stop practice after pit stop practice. Like Mercedes the true pace of this car has yet to be seen but it can assumed that they are still the best of the rest. 
Tomorrow is the last day and after that there is only 4 more days before Melbourne. Some teams seem to be cruising there way to Australia while others are having to put some effort in and some are probably behind schedule. 
When will we see what Mercedes and Williams really have up their sleeves and can Mclaren put the whole package together and be at the sharp end? 
As this test draws to a close things just get more interesting. 
Barcelona Day Three Timesheet 
1. Maldonado, Lotus, 1:24.348, 104 laps;
2. Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1:24.739, 129 laps;
3. Hamilton, Mercedes. 1:26.076, 101 laps;
4. Ericsson, Sauber, 1:26.340, 53 laps;
5. Vettel, Ferrari, 1:26.407, 105 laps;
6. Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:26.589, 112 laps;
7. Massa, Williams, 1:26.912, 55 laps;
8. Wehrlein, Force India, 1:27.333, 81 laps;
9. Bottas, Williams, 1:27.556, 49 laps;
10. Button, McLaren, 1:29.151, 24 laps

Barcelona:Circuit De Catalunya Day 4.

Todays test was once again all about Mclaren and unfortunately, not for the first time this winter test period for the wrong reasons. 
Fernando was in the car and was looking to have a good day with 29 laps under his belt but then the MP4-30 went of the track at turn 3 and hit the inside wall. 
Fernando was air lifted to hospital by the circuit helicopter and after numerous tests including an CT and MRI scan was given the all clear bar a minor concussion. He is staying in the hospital overnight as a precaution and is expected to drive in the next and final test starting on thursday. 
It is not know what happened to the car but it has been reported by a number of drivers that there were high winds around the circuit and so that could have played a part?
Roman Grosjean topped the time sheet with an run on the super soft tyre. It was his first time in the E23 and he has already set the fastest time of all to date. Signs again that the Lotus is a big step in improvements from last years car. 
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was one of the people to mention the windy conditions and he commented on the day being a tough one. The car had a small gearbox issue that was sorted without any mechanical intervention and overall he is very confident about the form of the W06 and considering the fact t hey have yet to test either the soft or super soft tyre suggests that they are still the team to beat. 
Carlos Sainz Jr was another victim of the wind as he too left the circuit at turn 3 which bought an early end to Toro Rosso’s test. Sainz Jr was doing a long run on the hard tyre at the time of the crash so the grip levels may not have been great. Despite this he said afterward that he had gained a lot of confidence in the car and was happy with the progress towards his debut in Australia. 
Bottas managed to get 129 laps in the Williams despite their first break down. The team are keeping very cool about their form and i am sure that we will see more from them in the next test. 
RedBull were third in the standings but are still pushing Renault for some upgrades to the power unit. A Renault spokesman said that they worked purely on reliability in the off season and the drivability issues that are holding the RedBull back are going to be sorted for the opening race.
They have teamed up with Mario Illien of Ilmor engineering to try and inject a boost of knowledge into the Renault power unit. for those of you who have short memories Ilmor were the people who where behind the Mercedes engines in the Mclaren years of the nineties. 
So there are only four more days of running to go before the cars are rolled out on the other side of the world and raced in anger. I think that by the end of those four days we will have a clearer picture of a few things. One is who is going to be at the sharp end and who is going to struggle and another is can the Mclaren Honda be a competitive race car and have Ferrari really overtaken RedBull? 
The next test should be the time that the teams test for race set up and we can review all the teams long run pace and their consistency over those long runs. We should see a number of upgrades too so lets look forward to Thursday. Until then………. 
Barcelona Day Three Timesheet 
1. Grosjean, Lotus, 1:24.067, 111 laps;
2. Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:24.321, 131 laps;
3. Kvyat, Red Bull, 1:24.941, 104 laps;
4. Nasr, Sauber, 1:24.956, 73 laps;
5. Bottas, Williams, 1:25.345, 129 laps;
6. Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:25.604, 88 laps;
7. Vettel, Ferrari, 1:26.312, 76 laps;
8. Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:26.591 36 laps;
9. Alonso, McLaren, 1:27.956, 20 laps.

© Ben & Sandra Hebbourn 2015

Bencipe: Pulled Pork with Homemade Slaw

There are fewer things better in life than juicy fragrant pulled pork dripping in BBQ sauce stuffed into a small bap or slider if your of the american persuasion.
The process is very simple but does take an ounce of patience as the cooking time is over 5 hours. It is however well worth the wait.
With some homemade coleslaw on the side this is a summer classic or winter warming treat.
The cut of pork used is shoulder which is quite a cheap cut. Large amounts can be bought at a good price at the moment meaning you can divide it up and store in the freezer for another round of pulled pork another time. This recipe uses an unusual spice mix but i think that when mixed with BBQ sauce gives a different dynamic to the usual flavour.


Pulled Pork

Pork Shoulder; around 1.5kg
Moroccan Spice mix; 3tbsp
Pomegranate Molasses; 3tbsp
Preserved lemons; 4 slices
Salt; 1 tbsp
Some string for tying the meat.


1/3 White cabbage
1/4 Red cabbage
2 Carrot (grated)
1/2 an Onion
Juice of half a lemon


Set the oven to 220 degrees or Gas Mark 7.
Line a baking tray with enough foil to cover over the meat later.
Roll out the meat into the tray and pad dry with a piece of kitchen roll. Mix together all the ingredients into a bowl and then rub it all over the meat leaving around a third to use later. To get a better flavour you may want to do this the night before so the flavours really soak into the meat.
Roll the meat back up and tie off with some string. Place in the oven for 30 minutes.
Then turn the oven down to 150 degrees or Gas Mark 2. Cover the meat with the foil and roast for 5 hours.
After the 5 hours is up turn the oven back up to 220 or GM 7 and uncover the meat and blast it for a final 30 mins just to crisp it up. After this take it out, cover back over with the foil and let it rest for 20 – 30 mins.
While this is going on its time to make the coleslaw.
Finely shred the cabbage and onion and grate the carrot into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt to absorb some of the moisture and mix. Sprinkle a little more salt over it and let it stand for 10 mins.
Add mayonnaise and mix until the level of mayonnaise is to your liking. Then add some chopped parsley and the lemon juice and mix one more time. Done!
With a pair of forks shred the pork into a serving dish and add the rest of the spice mix. Stir it in and then enjoy in a bap with some BBQ sauce.


© Ben & Sandra Hebbourn 2015

Ali Rushforth

Get To Know Ali
Born on 9th February 1979 in Huddersfield, this Yorkshireman now lives in Didcot, Oxfordshire with his lovely wife and 3 children, of which his son is following in Dad’s footsteps in Karting.

Ali is a highly experienced driver with 25 years under his belt, manages and runs his own team as well as is not only a driver but an instructor too.

Not only is Ali quick but he has a personality that shines through everything he does, his social media presence is fantastic, he engages with his fans and is ever the joker yet highly professional, great at being very approachable and a very popular driver and man within the paddock.

please check out his website at :

and if you own a business or know someone who may be interested in sponsorship then please take a look at the different ways to become involved and provide your business with TV exposure on Motors TV on top of the usual expectations of a partnership please do take a look at this years media presentation here:

The Emotional Side Of Working In F1

      Our most recent posts have mainly been Ben so today I am taking control and answering a very common question. How do I cope with Ben being away and do we mix with other families?

In order to honestly share how I feel about Ben’s job away playing racing cars with the lads half the year I need to explain how our relationship works as it’s different for everyone and some people would enjoy the time apart.

He really is the other half to me, any other person i’ve ever had a relationship with I could’ve coped with the time apart, just not Ben. He is my best friend, we never argue, we never get sick of each other, we’re that couple that could actually work together all day and go home and still find things to talk about, so it is like losing a part of myself when he goes away, I also feel like I lose any control over my own life & career.

I am not blessed with much family especially since my mum passed away last june 2 days after the baby was born, I literally have my best friend and one other to ask for any sort of help with anything  This is something else to bear in mind, some may have a lot of family close by so are able to carry on normal life whereas I am not.

Much as Ben says do whatever I want to with my life he’ll support me whatever and we’ll find a way, physically this is impossible when he is away, my bestie has a full time job and my other help has two small ones herself so there are times I may want help but simply cannot have it, how can I go out to do a job on set days at set times of the week when from May till September every year that reliable back up disappears.

So from this point of view I feel like my life is on hold, I can’t do everything I want to as his work is the dominating force in our lives, he already has his career before we got together so I simply have to be the one sacrificing as I knew this was his life when i decided to enter into a relationship with him.

When it comes to mixing with other families, I have met other wives of Ben’s work colleagues, although the ones i’ve met had much older children than we have, more recently we’ve met other couples and families within Motorsport rather than F1 in particular that we’ve hit it off with, so there are some blossoming friendships growing there. I’ve not wanted to intrude on Ben’s friends within work as in the real world with any other job they are HIS friends not mine, but we do have a few meet ups planned in the next few months so I will meet a few more.

As we’ve said before you have to love the sport to work in it & I wholeheartedly believe now I have experience of it myself that it takes a special sort of person to be with someone who works within any kind of Motorsport

© Sandra & Ben Hebbourn 2015

F1 – A Few Questions Answered

Hello again,it’s been a while

The last week has been a busy time in the lives of Life In The Pit Lane. There has been a new car to collect (we made our own light hearted launch video which is on TPCO here : http://www.thepitcrewonline.net/life-in-the-pit-lane.html )
Also a teething baby that does not seem to understand the concept of sleep. This is good for a job in F1 but she is still a little young!

For these reasons todays blog is going to be a mash up of some of the questions and suggestions we have been sent via Twitter and the F1 Spy Facebook page.

What do we think of the new Mclaren MP4-30?

My first impressions of the MP4-30 were that it looks good. By that i mean two things. The first it looks sleek and fast. You know what they say, if it looks fast then it is fast!
The second is that it looks like cars that have been competitive in the previous season. You can see hints here and there of a certain silver car and a bovine based team. The latter is of no real surprise as there is a new designer in the drawing office.
As well as this there are parts that look like they have been well designed and this combines to make a tasty looking package. There doesn’t seem to be any areas of the car that look forgotten about. Like the area behind the side pods on the new red car for example or the larger rear area of the MP4-29.

After the first test i think that despite the limited running they did there are some very positives signs.
Although there were problems they all got fixed. It was not like the bovine team at that test the year before. Mclaren stayed for the 4 days and did not need to pack up early and go home to do some emergency re-designing.
I don’t think any team last year that started with the new power units had a smooth ride in that first test. To fix the issues and get out for even 70 laps or so is good. Especially considering the clash of cultures, the combination of McLaren and Honda systems and the aggressive design of the engine packaging.
When the car was on track it looked like there was some real power available. There is a BBC clip about the engine noise and Alonso is driving the chicane more like the Monte Carlo rally than a F1 test. I may be wrong but there is no way that the engine was at full power and to be doing that shows it has some serious power on tap.
Also the speed trap numbers are not that far off considering again that the engine is not at full power and the aero package has not been set up properly.
If the car goes out and starts putting some good lap totals under its belt in Barcelona i will be very encouraged indeed. So lets get to Barcelona quick. I can’t wait!!

What are Fernando and Jenson like?

Working in the same space as any F1 driver is a privilege that not many people get to experience. You get to see a small part of there preparation and general attitude before and after a race. Although there is not much face to face contact you do see them walking around and socialising and being the person behind the camera.

Jenson Button is a very nice, grounded and happy person. He has a good set-up in terms of consistent people around him and a great manager who is very approachable and has great sense of humour.
His general demeanour around the motorhome is positive and even after a bad result he can find a smile or have a giggle at the team press conference.

Fernando is somebody that i have not worked with much. I did have some experience of him in 2007 but this was very limited.
What i have seen is somebody who is quite private but has a sense of humour. This is all i can say about him really.

More about Logistics?

Re-branding. When a team has a new sponsor their maybe a colour scheme change to deal with. This was certainly the case with Williams last year when they took the iconic Martini Racing livery.
It is not only the car that has to be resprayed but everything involved needs to be re-vamped. The most obvious being the team kit. This will be tops, trousers, shoes, jumper and jacket at the very minimum. Most likely 4 or 5 tops and trousers each and maybe 2 jumpers and 1 of each of the rest. Shoes maybe refreshed mid season. That amount of clothing times 150 in different sizes is a lot of boxes! These have to be unpacked and complied for each team member.
Then there is the garage. This may mean that the current panels that are used to create the space are sent away or maybe a whole new set will be made. This has to be organised pre-season even before the first test maybe all whilst the new car is being built and made ready.
Other pieces of equipment that may have stickers on will have to be changed over and maybe even laptop covers and mouse matts will have to be swapped.
Then there is the motorhome side of things. The entire structure may have to be sent away for a re-spray and then all the furniture and anything inside that is in the old colour scheme will also have to be changed or re-sprayed. The sponsor may be a manufacture and they may want to have their products on display. New area’s and new items of furniture may have to be commissioned and made to the sponsors specification or they may send things to be built up.
If the sponsor makes laptops for example then all the laptops used by the team engineers will have to be swapped over. This will give the IT department a lot of work to do as each person will need there laptop seamlessly changed over.
A new sponsor doesn’t mean just money or a nice looking car. It means a lot of work for a few people in the team.

F1 Testing – The Last Day

The Last Day……

After three days of testing the car at a relatively empty circuit we come to the fourth and final day. At this point there have undoubtedly been 4 long days and nights where you feel that you have done nothing else but work in the garage or lay in bed with the ratio of bed to work being heavily bias towards work.
The final day is the last day you will be working in the garage and you can look forward to having a few drinks in the bar later and you will, providing there is not another test straight after be going home the next day. But before you can enjoy that drink there is a lot to do.

As always there will be a plan for the day and just because it is the last day does not mean there is any less that needs to be tested but even though there is a full day ahead there are opportunities to save time in the evening to make sure you get to that bar or bed quicker. This does mean that your day may be even busier than it has been in the last few days but the results are worth it. This is achieved by ‘stealth packing’.
During runs which by the end of a test should hopefully be longer runs of 10 plus laps you can be packing away certain things that are not going to be needed in the evening as the car will be stripped and packed away. For example your tyres will be nearly all used up leaving a number of trollies, temperature control boxes and tyre blankets ready to be put back in there boxes.
Only items that are behind the scenes are touched. The front of house is left untouched so from the pit lane things look normal.  In the paddock however the tail lifts on the trucks are down and flight cases are pilling up ready to be loaded.
As the final hours of the test draw close it has also been known for the garage bannering to begin disappearing leaving the rear of the garage completely open plan.
One important point to make is that you need to time what you are going to pack away with a good amount of accuracy if you are needed once the car returns to the pit box. You may for example be one of the fan guys that places a cooling fan in the brake ducting or the tyre man that has to come and take garage pressures etc. You do not want to be loading a flight case into a truck when your supposed to be in the garage!

As well as stealth packing there are other tasks a foot. All the spare parts and used parts for the test have to be sorted and packed. Unused parts may be staying in the truck as they will not be needed until the next test. Used parts must be identified as to what is going to happen to them for the next test. Every part that is made and used on the car has a ‘life’. This is how many kilometres it can safely run for before it is liable to break. Every part has been logged from the time it left the factory to the time it went on and came off the car. This data gives you a measurement of how long it has been used for. During any parts life there are scheduled check points much like your family car has service intervals. Some are minor like a visual check or others are more in depth and this means that it must return to the factory for deeper analysis. A few member of the team will be parts men and it is their job to make sure all parts are logged, tagged, wrapped in bubble wrap or bagged and sent to the right place. This may be in the trucks that are returning to the factory or if they are needed asap then in a van that night.  These guys could be sorting well in excess of 100 different parts and when the paddock and garage are filling with boxes this can become a very complicated process. Add in the parts that come of the car as thats packed away and its even more demanding.

At the end of running and the car is pushed back to the garage for the last time the pack up the real begins.
The cars data is downloaded and fuel drained out as the car is prepared for a strip down. As the mechanics work on the car methodically removing parts, often helping the parts guys by cleaning and logging parts as they are removed the rest of the garage is taken down around them. The ‘overhead’ module being the last thing to come down as this holds air lines and power outlets and extra lighting. It is also directly over the car.
Rims and tyres have to be stripped by Pirelli then brought back to be cleaned and packed away. Gearboxes have to be stripped and all parts once again logged and packed as does the power unit.
At this point the garage can be a very hectic place where there are parts and boxes all over the place. Engineers are relegated to the floor or the trucks as any desks or tables are packed away.
Slowly but surely the chaos subsides. The car has been fully stripped, put on its loading frame and awaits loading. This frees everybody up to pack whats left. At this point the rate at which cases are loaded increases dramatically as nothing needs to be left out for the car.
After around 4 -5 hours on a good pack down the garage will be empty and all that left to do is have quick sweep of the floor. The team manager will give a quick debrief and give details on leave times from the hotel the next day etc.
The rush to the vans and the hotel now ensues and its your time. From personal experience i would say that its better to go back, have a shower and pack before you do anything else. You may want to lie down and if your plan is to go to bed than thats okay but if it is not then this can be a dangerous act and you may well fall asleep in your dirty sweaty team kit before you have done anything else and have to pack up franticly the morning of your departure.

This is a round up of the last day. If it is the start of winter testing you may have a few more tests to do and this routine will be repeated again. If it is the last test then there is a sense of relief and if your team has performed well on track a feeling of positive anticipation for the season ahead. The last test falls not long before the first race so some team members may not feel like they have had a break at all and the routine of flights, hotels and garages continues all the way through the year. These guys are dedicated and operate at a professional level so they can work at the same level all year. This is why any member of a F1 team has to be dedicated and have love for racing.

F1 Testing….

A day in the life…
As the testing begins in Jerez i thought it would be a relevant topic for this edition of the blog.  Testing has changed a lot over the last decade and has gone from a permanent fixture through the year to a few weeks in February.
In days gone the testing programme would begin in late january and end in march. In those days there would be a test chassis built, maybe even two and these cars would never go racing but pound around circuits all over Europe for the rest of the year trying to find that extra bit of speed.
Teams had a test team and a race team. The set up and equipment being almost identical it was effectively two race teams.
In the new era of budget capping and cost saving this had to go but for the 3 tests in February it is a blast from the past and the way things are done hasn’t really changed although the limited time means that everything is speed up a notch.
In the old days the car would be gently eased into a testing programme. Maybe an aero day would act as a shakedown as well as a opportunity to get an understanding of the aero package in real world terms. Laps would be done to find a good balance and set up before the reliability and race pace tests were carried out. The test driver or drivers would do most of this work and the race drivers would only come in towards the end of the testing season to fine tune things to there liking. The race team would have this time to get everything sorted at the factory and come to one or two tests to get back into the groove before the first race.
Things are very different now. Now the teams only have three tests or 12 days to take a new car from the factory floor to the first race. To go from a blank sheet of paper or empty hard drive to one thats full of useful data that can be used to understand the car and what it can and cannot do. This means that the car and the team have to hit the ground running as it were.
A four day test is for the team members a very intense and tiring experience. The day is spent running the car and the evening is spent setting it up for the next day. Sleep is often at a premium.
The moment the team is set up and the garage built the action begins. Often the car that is shown in a launch is not the same car that will run on the track. In the time it has taken for the photos to be taken and the press to do their write ups and the car to arrive in Spain it is not unusual that new parts are ready and on their way to the circuit. Everything has to be unpacked and laid out or stored so it can be grabbed at a moments notice. This happens every day the team are at the circuit.
The car build and set up can sometimes be a slow process as not everything fits quite as it should and the mechanics are not up to speed with new parts and how they are to be fitted. Engineers and design team members are at hand to offer advice and guidance and at the same time learning about the cars technical characteristics. Parts are trimmed, adjusted or in extreme cases sent back for re-design. As a lot of parts are made from carbon fibre the fabricator has a busy time and has a pencil grinder permanently attached to his hand.
The test car has a lot of ‘extras’ fitted to it. These are all manor of sensors and cameras that are used to gain knowledge of the car. You may have seen the aero rakes that are fitted to the outside of the cars. Fitting these elements onto the car also takes time. There are many elements to creating a competitive race car and all the different departments need to gain the important data they need to go forward. Each one has a programme they need to complete so making sure all areas of the design and engineering team are happy takes a fine balancing act. Depending on what happens to the car during testing often dictates how the balance is tipped from one to the other.
On the morning of a test day the teams will leave the hotel at least 2 to 3 hours before the start of running. There may have been a night shift working who are relieved of service until the next night. Breakfast may be cooked at the circuit and within the morning routine team members must find 10-15 mins to get something to eat. Sometimes they might not find the time. The car is warmed up and everything made ready for the moment the lights in the pit lane turn green.
There will be a plan for the day but this is always flexible in case things don’t go to plan.
Between runs all manor of changes can be made to the car. Brakes, suspension, dampers, bodywork, wings and everything else in between will be removed, swapped or adjusted meaning everybody is flat out. Time in the garage is time wasted.
When the day of running is over and the pit lane closes the intensity level in the garage does not go down. Now the car must be stripped down, parts checked over and sometimes tested for wear and any signs of failure. Reliability is important in modern F1 and good reliability is achieved with scrupulous interrogation of every component of the car.
Data collected for the day is analysed and interpreted so as to make decisions as to what will be fitted to the car and when that will happen within the test programme.
The car is built up again to the specification required to start the next days testing programme. This process does not happen in a few hours and it is not unusual for the guys to be leaving the garage after midnight. Sometimes the aforementioned night shift will take over and finish the job but this does not mean anybody gets a early finish. Some support crew members may get away at 9 or 10pm if they are lucky.  This happens everyday, even on the last day. The only difference being the car is not built up again but instead packed away to go back to the factory or onto the next test.
This is how testing has always been, there is just less time and people to do it. This means that the race team guys are the only guys to do the work. When you watch the first race this season spare a thought for the hard work those guys have put in already and its only just begun for them.