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!
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
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.
So that was part 1, join us for part 2 soon
Love Ben & Sandra
© Ben & Sandra Hebbourn 2015