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.

F1 Logistics Part 2

Race Weekend Structure Pt 2 -Personnel

Hello again friends,
     as its been Ben filling you all in on things I know nothing about I shall let him get on with it.
In the previous post we spoke about the race weekend in terms of the paddock and how it is filled. In this post we will concentrate on the human side of things. 
All the people that make F1 happen for that weekend. How they get to the country, the hotel and to the circuit and what they do in the down time. 
As we know the first people to arrive in the paddock are the motorhome crews however the first people to arrive at any European destination are the truck drivers that have driven the motorhome. Some teams have a separate build crew who fly or drive vans to the circuit (Belgium and Germany are only 6 hrs away by car) but others double up those truck drivers as build crew. Most stay in a hotel but some don’t even leave the circuit as their hotel is their truck!
For those that fly the normal routine is to get a taxi from the airport or if there are some crew members that drove team vans they will pick them up and take them to the hotel.  90% of teams share rooms. You have your ‘roomie’ all season and between the two of you have your routine (this is subject of a whole new post). 
Another unique aspect of the motorhome crew is as a consequence of being the first to arrive there is no kitchen to cook anything so until that is up and running the crew have to feed themselves. So once you have put your bags in the hotel room it is a good idea to gather a vans worth of people and find the local supermarket to stock up on lunch. Some people like to save money by also buying their dinner there. There are all manor of cooking products that can be thrown into the back of a truck that can be set up in a hotel room. A Grill made by a boxer is a favourite or the most simple, a kettle. 
The next to arrive for the race weekend are the race team garage crew and the catering staff. They always fly and in some cases will drive straight from the airport and begin the garage build/food prep before checking into their hotels later that day. There is no need for these guys to go to a supermarket as the chefs will begin providing lunch and dinner if needed.
The chefs are other un-sung hero of the paddock as these guys not only provide food for the teams whenever they need it but also knock up high standard cuisine for VIP guests etc. During a race weekend team members will be provided with breakfast both cooked and cold, a range of sandwiches and wraps, salads and easy to heat snacks like jacket potatoes and a filling plus a hot meal on a friday (this is a big day and night of car prep as they are scrutinised ready for qualifying the next day) and some other nights if there is a lot of work to be done on the car for example. As well as this there will be a VIP lunch menu for the entire race weekend plus the possibility of VIP dinners. Oh and did i mention the drivers food which is very specify planned out by their respective trainer or nutritionist. 
These guys spend most of their time in the kitchen or asleep although they do find the time for a few relaxing drinks in the bar of an evening.
Next on the list are the mechanics and the engineers. There is no need for them to arrive until there is a car to work on. Once again they fly to all the destinations. In most case the engineers will turn left on the plane and fly 1st class. They will also in some cases stay in a different hotel.  
These members of the team will pick up hire cars at the airport and use them all week then return them when they fly home. Some teams use the same company when they can and have a ‘rep’ meet them to save on queuing at a desk and to make sure they find their cars. There can be up to 5 vehicles being hired at one time. 
As previously mentioned friday is the only day when the teams will have a dinner provided so the evening is spent finding somewhere to eat. The easiest thing to do is order room service but this can be expensive and a little boring so its off out to find a place to eat. Most of the races have been on the calendar for years so everybody has their favourite places to go. 
These evenings are the only chance that you get to go out and explore. It is a common misconception that when flying around the world these guys get to see a lot of different cultures and really suck up the atmosphere of a country. Most of the time you see the circuit, the route to the circuit and the hotel and the odd restaurant or bar. 
The only crews that get a chance to see more are the motorhome crews. These guys often work a shift pattern during the race weekend meaning not every crew member is needed. This gives those guys a day off and they use it to sightsee, explore and relax. These guys will have been away for a week longer than any other team member and will leave at least 3 days after the race. Some such as myself have a hobby they can do like riding my bicycle with others who share the same privilege and hobby. (Look out for pics during the season).
This is general diary of the lives of a F1 team member. As you have probably realised this is why it is important to have a love of motor sport and F1 because when your away working the majority of your time is spent doing exactly that F1

Ben

See you all again Saturday 🙂

Love Ben & Sandra

© Ben & Sandra Hebbourn 2015

F1 Logistics; Race Weekend Structure Part 1

PART 1 – THE PADDOCK

Welcome back old friends and new visitors,
Today Ben takes over with more on how a race weekend happens inside the paddock,
There are many different people and departments involved in making a race weekend run smoothly. On Sunday they are all there doing their jobs whether it is driving, engineering, pit stop crew, marketing or hospitality but all these people do not arrive at the circuit in one massive rush of bodies fighting their way to their respective teams.
As with everything in F1 the process is well planned and engineered so people arrive and can do their job whatever it may be without having to wait or come back later. Well most of the time anyway!
So who arrives first to get things underway? At what point does a circuit go from a quiet empty paddock to a busy hive of activity? How do the team members get to each circuit and what do they do  when they ‘go home’ which is said in a loose term as a hotel is not really your home.
Lets start with the circuit side of things and the Saturday before the race weekend. At this point the motorhome trucks roll into the paddock and begin the construction process.
Tape measures and plans come out as it is determined the exact spot at which they can begin building. Any mistake now means you may have to move later and that is not a good thing.
Every paddock has been planned out before hand by FOM and they have people on hand to make sure that everything is going to plan. That is even down to who can come into the paddock when and where they can park the trucks up once they have finished. This might sound strict but it is important to keep things under control, see them as traffic police and project managers i guess.
Although teams do help each other out they can also be quite selfish when it comes to parking trucks and blocking access routes in an attempt to get what they need done quicker or made easier.
The motorhomes are left to build in relative peace until Monday or in some cases Tuesday.  This is when the race team trucks roll into the paddock and begin setting up. In the last few years this side of the paddock has become more and more compacted as they have gone from 3 or 4 trailers in a row to building large pod like structures between the trucks to form extra office space for engineers and a outdoor tyre garage/store. Some teams even need a crane for this build too! This may seem excessive and it kind of is but it means that everything is not crammed into a few garages and the back of trucks giving each part a better working environment.
While this is going on outside the garages inside the garage is being built up. Once again the team members are working to a plan erecting bannering to form a main garage at the front and a series of spaces behind to house the other areas needed to build and maintain an F1 race car. The gear box prep area, floor and wing areas, hydraulic, brake and damper prep area plus the racks of heaters and blowers and all the other ancillaries not to mention the drink and snack area which features an all important coffee machine for those late nights and early mornings.
By the time Wednesday afternoon comes round and the mechanics and engineers arrive to begin work on the car everything they need is ready and in place just the same way it was the race before.
On Thursday morning all the press and marketing personnel arrive and once again their offices are prepared so they can get straight to work.
In some ways it is not the race weekend that is the busiest period it is the time before that, the time it took to get everything ready, like setting up a theatre for a big show. Once the show begins many people stop work while a few actors do their thing. F1 has more than a few actors but its the same principle.
One amazing thing about F1 is that this process doesn’t happen once and in one location like a show in a theatre but every other week and in a different location all over the world.  Sometimes week after week on a back to back. The next time you are watching a race pay a bit of attention to the other things around not just the car and you can see the size of the operation.
No wonder we need the FOM police!
Ben
As our old friends will be aware I (Sandra) am also going to be in the pit lane this season as I have joined #TeamAli and become a part of MG Trophy Championship racing driver Ali Rushforth’s team, he will be a big part of future posts as well as Ben’s European F1 antics once we get into the season, he is currently well into his personal preparation for the season ahead, both physically with fitness and endurance as well as nutrition, please make sure you’ve given him a follow on twitter too. You can find him here www.twitter.com/alirushforth
Not forgetting if you’re after further information then check out his website here alastairrushforth.co.uk
If you have a business and are considering getting involved in motorsport to promote your business this year then there’s still time to get involved with the season ahead, please take a look at the Get Involved section of his site.
Sandra
So that was part 1, join us for part 2 soon
Love Ben & Sandra
© Ben & Sandra Hebbourn 2015

The F1 Life And Family Life

HOW WE COMBINE THE TWO

Hello again racing friends,
Its Sandra in the driving seat first this time.
Let me start by saying thank you for the phenomenal response to this blog, I never expected so many people to be interested in our lives.
Mixing the F1 life with a normal family life is nothing like how I thought it would be, living it is very very different to imagining living it, that’s for sure.
I wish I could recall a few stories from last year but last year Ben had a major operation in the March and wasn’t fit to return to work for several months and then was factory based for a while on returning to work, plus we had our gorgeous girl Ilana so there was another section off work with paternity leave so in the end we only had a handful of races to juggle as a new family so it’s all a bit of a blur.
This year in terms of the addition of her, you will all experience with us as we go along this season sharing together as much as we can. I have no doubt emotionally it will be our hardest season yet, so I’m grateful to all my new Twitter friends, our #F1Family, you’ll all be my support on a bad day.
The best year to use as an example for you now is my very first season.Its hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t been there but the best way is probably to be straight to the point.It would be much easier if I wasn’t a fan as my relationship with the sport i love changes dramatically….like now, off season, I’m full of excitement for the team launch and testing, come the european races, its what separates us, it becomes almost a love hate thing, the very thing I love is the thing that takes away the other thing I love the most.
I find instead of watching excited for racing, there I am studying the tv for all paddock footage, just in case he’s walking up the paddock at the same time, (this has happened a few times)…the children too! Its not about racing anymore its to see if we can see ben on tv today.Believe me when i say i’m overflowing with pride of who he works for and how long he’s been doing it and that he’s worked his way through different areas, the Test and Race Teams too. Every day i’m just so proud, but it comes with its cons aswell as pros.
Suddenly life is dependent on hotel wifi & even in 2015 I can say its shockingly bad, it boots you off after just a few minutes constantly and that’s if it would let you on in the first place. Then there’s time, there’s an hour time difference by the time the Europeans happen so even if ben finishes work at 6 o’clock thats 7pm here and by the time the team have got back to the hotel,showered changed and all had dinner then its at least 9pm 0r 10pm, 10 or 11 pm here.
Thank heavens for mobile phones so on a break time I’ll receive a text or two, basically our lives go from a real life relationship to an online one, using whatever tech is available when its available to touch base that day.Leaving is the worst part but we try to just deal with it a race at a time, just one portion of time away .My first year I drove Ben to the airport, in my mind every minute less away the better, I’ll explain why as you’re no doubt thinking the race is 2 practise days and 2 race days..thats not too bad..Truth on the motorhome team is very different, as Ben explained in his post on logistics he flies out the friday before and finishes the tuesday after, travelling home on the Wednesday, well on a 2 week gap you can do the maths, that means he’s home for a day and a half before flying off again.on a back to back that adds up to 27 days away, bearing in mind Silverstone is before the Germany/Hungary back to back so generally they take a coach from Silverstone,so unless I go and spend some time there he would be gone from the start of setting up at Silverstone (this year that will be June 26th) till the Wednesday after Hungary. (July 29th).
I hope at this point you’re beginning to realise this is far more than just a job, anyone working within F1 must also be a huge fan of our beloved sport, as each and every member of the travelling workforce is making some sort of personal sacrifice, and so must their families when it concerns those that have wives and children at home. As you can appreciate it is far more suited to the young who have yet to settle down and have families, but also its a double edged sword, when its something that you love so much, hence there’s just as many people with a family at home as the young singletons.

Now I’ll hand over to Ben for the other side of the coin.

All things in life have there ups and downs and going away to a race is no exception.
To work and enjoy working within any motor sport environment I would say that you have to have a passion for the sport. This means that there is no place you would rather be than trackside contributing in some way toward a successful race.
However, when you have built a family at home there is no place you would rather be than home, making a success of your family.
This poses a paradox of life that has to be juggled and in many ways split in two. You could say that you have to lead a double life. Not in the sense that you become a different person but in the way that you live, socialise and work.
Motorsport is a committed working environment where, in most cases you have to get the job done whatever the cost. If this means staying up and working all night then thats what has to be done. Either that or your taking an early bath and that is not what you arrived at the circuit for.
Demands such as this means that you are often either at the circuit or in bed with not a lot of time in between for other activities such as eating for example. The team in which you work become a ‘remote’ family. You do everything together. Room sharing is common among many teams not just in F1 so even relaxing time is done with one member of the team.
This sounds and is in some ways very demanding on working relationships but in another way it is this bonding that makes a great team a great team. To share the good times and well as the bad is important but with all this going on you still have to consider the people you have left behind. They are the people that are on your mind everyday and taking time to communicate with them is also important especially when you have a baby that is changing every day. Thankfully modern technology allows you to not miss out entirely and you can take comfort in knowing that soon you will be on a plane home.
So having a family and working in F1 is a challenge that takes time and understanding on both sides to make successful. To find the right balance between two passions that can in a ‘normal’ world take up all your time is where the secret lies.

It may all sound quite a lot to take in and probably very different to what you expected, but its also the most amazing thing to be involved in too!!

love Ben & Sandra

Next post Saturday 9pm
get in touch with the subject you’d like to know more about.
xx

Sandra &nBen Hebbourn 2015 ©

Logistics In F1 – Factory To Circuit & How It Happens

Logistics In F1

Factory To Circuit & How It Happens

Hello again new friends, Sandra here,
Always wondered how the F1 show is put on?, then wonder no more,this time i’m handing straight over to Ben to explain what really happens to create the greatest show on earth!

For each team every race means that more than just a car and some drivers need to be go the circuit. F1 is sometimes referred to as ‘the circus’ and if you were to see all the trucks and cargo that is needed traveling down the road you could understand why.  However, it is not just the road that see’s F1 goods. The air and sea also get a look in. For those races outside of Europe (fly aways) everything has to travel by plane and in some cases by boat.

Due to the distance of most ‘fly aways’ the logistics are, in some ways more simple as everything goes mainly by plane. The cars, the garage and all the equipment are loaded into purpose built freight crates and sent to the next circuit. A lot of non-essential items such as consumables etc are sent in advance by sea. This takes a lot of planning as you may well pack up more than one set of sea freight at once and send it off weeks maybe months in advance. Don’t forget anything because once in Japan for example you can’t ‘pop back’ and get it! For a European race however this is kind of possible for a lot of teams have dedicated vans that travel from the factory to the race to deliver last minute upgrades any time up until friday! Traveling team members are not safe from having to deliver items ‘hand luggage’ in extreme cases either.

The garage is made on a sunday or monday before the race by a few members of the support crew on the race team and once this has been done all the equipment, the car and the rest of the race team arrive to begin work. Often driving straight to the circuit from the airport. Every second counts!

On the other side of the paddock there is the hospitality units or as they are still referred to the Motorhomes although most do not look like a Winnebago these days!
These motorhomes are a home from home to the team members and a place where the media can do there work with the team and drivers on home turf as it where.  A place where the team can show off their achievements and impress people with lots of money and help convince them they want their names on the car.
This means that everything has to be ready for action first thing Thursday morning. The beginning of a race weekend.
Typically he motorhomes begin construction from the saturday before the race which requires the personnel to travel on the friday by plane or where applicable by van. Germany, Belgium for example. Some teams have there own vans they keep all season and that requires a few team members to leave early and drive them to the location meeting at the hotel friday afternoon.

On a Sunday after the race has finished and the cars and garages have been packed away many team members will fly home but the motorhome crews must de-construct their motorhomes before they are finished. This can take up to two days of work meaning some teams are only home for one maybe two days between races as they have to travel on the friday to get to the next venue a week in advance and begin again. For a back to back race this means many days working with little if no sleep as what is done in five days before a race and two after has to be achieved in four, Sunday-Thursday.

For all team members, race, engineering, marketing, motorhome and truck drivers a large portion of there lives are taken up with airports, planes, driving trucks and hotels.
Each one of these people has to have a seat on a plane and a bed organised as well as there uniforms and suitcases. This requires a team of people who’s job it is to book all the flights and hotels and another team to distribute the uniforms. This is not only the race kit but the travel kit that is worn in between so we look like a team on and off the track.
There is also the team that make sure all the trucks are in good order, organise who is driving what truck and how it is going to get there. When they are going to leave and when they are going to arrive.
Although these people never leave the factory they are with out doubt the busiest, most organised and most important members of the logistics picture. They make sure your trousers fit, your shoes are right that you have a ticket to fly and can get you out of trouble when things go wrong at an airport for example. They make sure the trucks arrive on time and at the right place.

It is these people that are often overlooked when you think about the F1 circus. There is so many things that have to be considered and taken care of every day. Imagine packing up to go and see relatives 400 miles away and times it by 100. But imagine that your relatives move every other week and you have different members of your family arriving and leaving all the time.
The next time you go to a race maybe stay a little longer and look at the paddock and you will see the logistics in action and just what a circus it really is.

Ben

NEXT POST WILL BE TUESDAY 20TH JANUARY 9PM GMT

SUBJECT – HOW WE COMBINE LIFE IN F1 WITH NORMAL FAMILY LIFE.
See you all then
Ben & Sandra x

Getting To Know Us

Welcome back…….I hope, if It’s your 1st visit, hello (waves frantically) we’re all friends here, do join the madness.
I thought it may be nice for you to get to know us a bit more, before we embark on all going racing together this season.

As I said in my last post I’ve been a fan of F1 since 1997 to the point of knowing in my local area which pubs showed the race and at least a couple of times a year have a nice pub sunday lunch while watching. It just had to be done!  I have a 12year old boy with special needs and a 7 year old girl from a previous relationship who’ve been raised to enjoy the religion too, by all means have a lovely summer Saturday at the beach, but there’s no way we’re leaving till after Quali, come on? even in the age of Sky+, live is still best! Please tell me I’m not alone here.

We met each other on twitter during a racing season, just tweeting about races and news, as you do,you know how it is? Some of the people you tweet most regularly become more like friends over time, eventually we moved onto exchanging phone numbers and daily texting without as much restriction as 140 characters on twitter. Sometime around then he let slip he worked in F1. My first reaction,,,”yeah,right!!” over the next week or so things were said and shown that soon any doubt drifted away and i was made aware that from May to September he’d be at every European race. Over time it was a natural progression to meeting up to watch together, as we lived just over an hour’s drive apart then it made sense to do the whole race weekend and have a couple of drinks on a Saturday evening …So the final 2 months that season that’s exactly what we did…Over the off season there was a shift and yes whether you believe in that sort of thing or not, it was clear to us we connected on other levels. We’d become the best of friends and wanted to spend more time together aside from our racing rituals, and that as they say was that…..



Now onto what you’re all really here for … the part that gets your internal engine roaring…that thing that makes you get up at silly o’clock on a freezing March morning…Racing!!!!

Ben has been with his team for 9 years now, in various roles and depts..spending 4 years racing and testing…now back on the team motorhome and its year round care.

The season starts soon but OUR season starts the beginning of May, till then we have testing at Jerez and Barcelona to talk about and as much as is possible the motorhome preparations and what generally happens in the off season to it and the preparations for the season ahead before going.

What we generally get up to in our spare time and our lifestyle when F1 is the dominating factor in everything we do.

When Ben goes to Barcelona, I will be spending the weekend at Brands Hatch with Ali Rushforth(@alirushforth) who’s been racing since just 9 years old. A very experienced Driver who’s been kind enough to welcome me on board and help me re-train from the skills I learnt in music to use them and learn new ones in the world of Motorsport.


Before meeting Ben i worked within the U.K music industry, dancing in music videos, film extra work and dabbled in music management with Leah Nicole (@leahangelnicole) which was an amazing few years meeting some amazing people and doing things I never thought i would ever have the opportunity to ever in my life.

I have a huge passion for Motorsports I hope Ali will teach me lots over this year and together with the rest of his team become a force to be reckoned with !!

I hope to keep you all informed and entertained with our antics over the season, I intend to add a video diary at some point, and document our individual season here and in Europe.

Get in touch,what do you want to know,what have you always though you would ask if you had the chance to, Ben is more than happy to answer as much as he can, he has several years of experience to share..

Lets have a Question & Answer for our next post..
Saturday January 17th at 9pm GMT

Send your questions to either of our twitters
@sandra_phoenix or @benjiani79
or email us at lifeinthepitlane.com@gmail.com

Hello & Welcome To Our Crazy F1 Life!


Most of you today will be finding this through Twitter so you will have a small idea of who i am.To you I apologise if i now repeat what you already know or bore you!

We are Ben & Sandra
We are a couple of Thirtysomethings with 3 children, 4 cats & a tankful of tropical fish.  A seemingly ‘normal’ family to those outside our garden gate, in fact a lot of our life to us is totally normal except to everyone else its far from normal as Ben works in the wonderful world of Formula One Racing for one of the most successful teams in F1 history.

Ben has a role specialising as an Audio-Visual Technician.  Think TV’s, digital media, Press Conferences and Live Race Feeds in the Team Motorhome at all the European races but is also a fan, I think you have to be.

I am a massive McLaren fan.  I found F1 in 1997 and after spending that year watching I found McLaren come 1998 & a love affair began.  So i am a fan but a fan on the inside so to speak, not many every year get to experience this so as a fellow fan i totally understand how privileged i am to be that bit closer than you, so i had an idea of how to share what i see & do…

So the idea of this blog was born to take you all on a season with us, share with you things that are normal to us, just our life & how it is  The reality of living, working and having a family to raise in the very secretive world that is F1.

I also have some extra things to share over this season as I too will be in a pit lane while Ben is away at various European locations.  I will also be involved in the world of Motorsport ..well who wants to read about how difficult i’ve found a particular week without him every other week so I shall be a busy bee..cue announcement of exactly what below.

My intention is to be as open as i can bearing in mind how secretive F1 is, the reality of living and breathing F1 and it being a massive part of your life.  There will be high points, there will be low points but there will be lots to talk about together…I hope you will come along for the ride with us, support us in those difficult days, celebrate the great days together & learn a bit more about what its like for those who work within this world…
This Is Our Lives In The Pit Lane….

I have a big announcement to share….this racing season i will not just be sat at home carrying on while Ben is in Europe.  Oh no…I am going to be involved in the MG Trophy here in the UK.

I am as of right this second I am very proudly part of Team Ali Rushforth 

AlastairRushforth.co.uk


A very experienced driver & a great guy at fan interaction on twitter so go on give him a follow. Say ‘hi’ & that I sent you.
A few Stats ..(us race heads love stats) 
MG Trophy 2012 -10th (missed 6/12 races)
Awarded “most Entertaining Driver’

MG Trophy 2013 -4th 

2 pole positions,
1 win
8 podiums

MG Trophy 2014 – 14th (missed 6/12 due to mechanical issues)


I will fill you all in on more in my next post, Tuesday January13th 8pm GMT

Please get in touch, give feedback and more importantly say ‘hi’ to me, Ben & Ali on twitter
Here’s to a great season of racing.
LETS ALL GO RACING!!
Love Sandra & Ben






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