Category Archives: Working in F1

To Austria And Back

 

The next race on the Calendar is Austria. This is a place that is new to me. Last year I was recovering from an operation so did not attend the race.

Going to new places comes with a bit of excitement and intrigue as to what you might find and what the place is like in general. I had heard good things about the circuit and of the hotel but you need to make up your own mind. Everybody on the team has their favorite places and in most cases there are differences in opinion.

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The hotel we checked into was very nice and the staff very friendly. There was a home like feel to the place and in the evening the meals were freshly made by one chef so it was home cooking of sorts. The main order for the entire stay was schnitzel. There are many different variations of schnitzel and I can tell you that I sampled every one of them more than once! I also made a discovery in pumpkin oil. It is served on salads and it was so nice that a bottle came home with me. I urge you to find it and try it. An old man who was at the bar when I was given the bottle by the hotel owner informed me that it was very good for the workings of the downstairs area! What part of that area is unclear as he only spoke German but I think that he was referring to prostate cancer? I think!

For one of the meals and on the last breakfast we were given a special chocolate F1 car each that had the name of the hotel on and the Mclaren logo on the rear wing. There was also a short note thanking us for our stay and how much fun they have had with us staying there. AS I said before it was family atmosphere there and that showed it.

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Now I will move onto the circuit. The RedBull Ring. As you probably already know this was once the A1 ring and has staged F1 on and off for many years. However since it was last on the calendar RedBull have done an excellent job of upgrading the facility. I do not wish to be to negative on this blog, however for people that don’t know me I have a very strong opinion on the state of a certain circuit that starts with an S and ends in ilverstone.   I hope that somebody connected to that certain circuit may read this blog because I would urge them to go and have a look at how a F1 paddock and facility should be upgraded. Every part of the RedBull ring has been carefully thought about and then finished off to a high standard. To add to that the surrounding area is beautiful and just like something from The Sound of Music. It is definitely one of the alternative European races I would recommend coming to.

This was another race that was followed by a test and just like in Barcelona the time to get to the next circuit and set up was tight.

There was talk of having to do a back to back race de-rig which basically means that you start straight after the test finishes and don’t stop until it is all packed up. This can be from 17-25 hours depending on the paddock and smoothness of the pack up.

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Luckily this was not the case but we still had to go straight to Silverstone (That certain place!) and start the build the next day. This was quite frustrating as you are back in your home country but still quite far away from your family.

I wish that I could have brought everybody up to stay with me but there is simply not enough room for everybody to bring their nearest and dearest along.

 

This makes the race weekend a special one because we do get the opportunity to bring the family up to watch the race and with a bit of organization into where you work too! Even though I talk about it all the time it is not until you enter the paddock and see all the Motor homes and race trucks that you get a real impression off the scale of the F1 circus.

It is also nice to meet everybody else’s family. You live and work with the your team for such a large part of the year it is nice to finally meet people you have heard so many stories about.

 

After Silverstone was all packed up I drove home and finally got to spend some time in the home I had just moved into when I left for Austria which by now is almost a month in the past. However I was not there very long. There were some repairs and other small jobs that had popped up during the time away and that meant that we had to go into work straight away.

Once that was out of the way Sandra and I packed the car and headed to Spa Francorchamps for the British GT Championship. (Blog to follow). Two Days after that had finished I was driving one of the crew vans to Hungary. One of the vans is driven in rotation and it was my turn.

After Hungary is the two week shut down and let me tell you I am looking forward to that very much and hopefully we can take life in second gear or maybe even in park!

 

 

Too Much Motorsport!

It’s been quite some time since I wrote anything other then emails, texts or tweets, alot has happened this past month.

Firstly we moved house, having moved the date forward by 2 days allowing us to all attend Silverstone for British GT’s, also that Ben had been away the previous 27 days and we moved the morning after he came home.

 

British GT’s was an amazing day, myself, Ben & Leah all attended as did our friends Lindsay Scott & Simon Tassie & the day was spent in the Academy Motorsport garage with the team, huddled around a small portable tv at one end and rushing up to the other end to look at a laptop with timings up on screen. Both myself and Leah were in full on work mode & got to what we needed to attend to whilst at the track in regards to Dennis Strandberg and we had the pleasure of being VIP so had a lovely lunch in the SRO hospitality unit.

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Next up was settling into the new house, or so it should have been but off to Austria went Ben to work so again it was all down to me, again I seem to have not stopped until literally right now!

There’s been the usual things to sort out, doctors, schools & changes of addresses to everyone, all of which has been very time consuming.

After the Austrian F1 race there was an in season test so Ben had to stay on and fly from there straight on to Silverstone so the British GP was a welcome weekend to catch up together as a family not just to attend the race.

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Now would be a good time to mention that paddock passes are like gold dust unless you wish to buy one with paddock club! So sorry to burst any bubbles but I and the children do not automatically get a pass each to live it up all weekend and neither can we get randomers who ask in the paddock, however, this doesn’t mean that we can’t with permission and arrangements made, as was the case this last weekend at Silverstone, we were allowed to enter the paddock with Ben who obviously has a permanent pass and went into the McLaren Brand Centre and spent some time in there mixing with Ben’s colleagues and showing the children around where Daddy works before the race team came over from the garage for their evening meal.

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After a great Sunday watching the race and being with friends and family it was time to head home, alone, as Ben had to go back to the hotel as the de-rig was to start Monday morning, so he wasn’t home till late Tuesday evening, so if any of you were wondering why there was nothing afterwards much for fans involving the teams, I think you may find that getting home to families and loved ones after almost a month away was more important as some like McLaren had to stay on for filming days.

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Time to get my head down as next weekend its all about British GT’s and my job rather than his, but I shall save all of that for my next post 🙂

 

A Man’s Work Is Never Done!

 

After Monaco came a welcomed break for the Motor Home crews. The next race is Canada and as all the units are transported by truck there is simply not enough time to get them on a ship and sail them over the Atlantic.

The ideal situation is to drive the trucks straight to the next European venue but this, as a lot of things in Formula 1 do not always go to plan.

Fortunately this was not the case for us however there was a small amount of work that had to be done in the UK. There have only been two European races so far but that is plenty of time for things to be broken, scratched, re-designed, added to, taken away etc. It may be the case that whole trucks need to come back for work or the contents of the truck need to be unloaded and changed, swapped or re-designed.

In our team the crew vans are driven back to base and so any small items can be transported in them. Likewise any small items that are picked up whilst at base will travel in the vans. The vans however are already full of cases that are carrying the vast amount of team kit that needs to be taken. We are lucky that we have these vans. Fitting the rigging kit and the race kit plus shoes and personal items would be a case for Mary Poppins otherwise!

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The first stint away totalled almost 1 month and after Canada it is going to be the same again. The test after Austria means we have to travel straight to Silverstone.

If you have any plans then they need to be squeezed in here and there.

After we got back I had the small task of moving house to contend with. Most people would have left this until the weekend however, that weekend was the Silverstone round of the British GT championship.  Sandra was attending as she was doing her duties for Dennis Strandberg.

 

So as soon as I got home it was down to business. Collecting the van and loading up and getting out of there Thursday/Friday. This is a time that you would normally relax and catch up with the family. It was all guns blazing instead and when the weekend was over so was I!

The unpacking process took a hit as I needed to rest but Ilana’s birthday was the next Saturday so the downstairs had to look presentable as the family were all coming round for a BBQ.

I can tell you that the only room upstairs that was not a total mess was the bathroom and every other door remained closed!

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Everything went okay but the week soon disappeared and it was time to leave for Austria. The rest of the sorting out will be down to Sandra meaning that the next time I walk through the door everything will be in a different place! It won’t be until September that I will get to know where everything is!

 

As I write this blog I am in Austria. This is my first time here and I can say that it is a beautiful part of the world and the circuit is very nice. Red Bull have done a lot of work and made it into a very modern and very practical place to work. As I mentioned before the race is followed by a test. This will be the feature of the next blog as the rush to Silverstone will no doubt produce some good stories!

We’ve Been Nominated….How Amazing..

We found out yesterday that we’ve been nominated in the very first F1 Fan Awards. These are meant to be a light hearted nod from the fans, who we all know don’t get much of a say in anything F1 so what a welcome relief they are!
FullSizeRender-28To even be nominated is simply amazing, considering we have only been blogging since the start of the year and only been able to take our followers and fans to races with us since the Spanish GP.

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who enjoys what we do and understands that we do it because we know its what fans want.

Fans want that little bit more, to know that little extra piece of info, to feel included in the team and that they matter!!

Of course fans matter, without fans there in no Motorsport!!

We’d appreciate a vote, although these are not meant to be take too seriously we like you love our sport, so we are in it to win it!!

Thank you

Sandra & Ben

 >> Please vote here <<

A Tale Of Two Cities

As Thursday morning begins so does the start of a Grand Prix weekend. Barcelona marks a change for all the teams. Gone are the long haul flights and mostly modern circuits with purpose built hospitality suites. Now we enter the period of the season where we visit the most historical circuits and also have the purpose built team hospitality suites.

This extra team space gives the press, television and sponsors lots of opportunity to take advantage of the surroundings and as such they plan various events and filming sessions with drivers and team bosses.

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The McLaren Brand Centre is one of the best looking and most functional hospitality units in the paddock. There are 50+ TV screens, a fully functioning internal network that is the equivalent to a small business premises as well as a wireless network for guests, a PA system and many other features that will be used by the above mentioned people to maximize their event or filming session.

Luckily for me these systems behaved themselves and the weekend passed with no real drama.

The first European race is exciting and the prospect of the ever-developing McLaren Honda making its way up the grid makes this particular race weekend one to savour. However, there was a once of jealousy in me as I was regularly updated by Sandra in Brands Hatch telling me what a great time she was having. I love racing and to see the cars in the Blancpain GT series would have been a treat, especially the McLaren 650S GT.

After the race was finished the entire paddock remained built, as there was a two day test to commence on the Tuesday. This posses a challenge to many of the teams with large Motorhomes as they have to take down their units on Thursday and travel immediately to the next venue to build there. The next race is Monaco and this also presents it own set of unique challenges the main two being that there is only one road in and out of the paddock area and the second is that the weekend starts on a Wednesday, a day early as there is no F1 running on a Friday.

The de-rig began on Wednesday night straight after the test had finished and was then completed in a full day on Thursday.

The crew then travelled via the company vans to Monaco on Friday.

Monaco is basically a nightmare for teams in terms of organization and logistics. The pit lane is small and there is no space to keep the normal build of trucks and tyre garage/office space directly behind the garages. Instead there is an upstairs section above the garage and everything has to be fitted into that space with the tyres being sorted in the open air in what will become the pit lane in the race.

There is a tiny space between the back of the garages and the start finish straight, just enough of somebody to stand with the pitboard and hang through the fence. From that angle the spectacle of F1 cars bursting down the street is one that cannot be repeated anywhere else in the world.

As I mentioned before the paddock has one road in and out. That is because it is a harbour side that is opposite the Rascasse turn. (Where Schumacher stopped that time).

In its normal guise this area is a car park and residential area. On one side is the sea and the other restaurants and apartment buildings.

For that week the peace for these residents is well and truly disturbed as there parking area is taken over completely with F1.

The first day of the build (Saturday) is a fight between locals and teams as people park their cars where you need to put a truck and Bentleys, scooters and motorbikes ride through to get to the yacht club just beyond the end of the car park.

Building is slow and at times painful as someone is blocking the road with a truck or a piece of lifting equipment. Everybody is trying to get built but in the most part everybody works together to help each other out. Smaller teams or units have to wait for the ‘big boys’ to get done before they can move in but everybody manages to get done and built with literally a foot of space between each unit.

Taking it all down presents the same set of problems so once the final truck leaves the dock it’s a big sigh of relief not only for the teams but the residents of Monte Carlo harbour.

Signing out for another week, see you all again soon

Ben

The Best Laid Plans Of Mice And Men

 

The time has come and the first European race is here and that means the work of the F1 hospitality crews really starts. Every Motor home is loaded and packed and sent on its way to the circuit de Cataluña.

For me this means a flight on Friday to begin work on the Saturday. As you wake on that Saturday morning it doesn’t cross your mind that maybe something is not going to arrive or a truck may have broken down. You take it for granted that everything you need to work will be there ready and that even counts for the crew members themselves!

The first time the Motor Home is built away from base is always a long drawn out affair. There are always bits and pieces here and there that didn’t get finished or fixed at the factory. To add to that this may be the first time that it has been fully put together since it was built for the last European race the year before!

For our crew this was exactly what happened and on top of that we experienced what it is like when those things you take for granted don’t fall into place as they should.

The first thing to happen was the discovery that one of the crew vans had been broken into on the Friday night. A rear window had been smashed but luckily nothing was taken. This means a trip to the police station and the task of getting the window fixed. In our case the crew vans stay with us all season and are obtained from Germany via a vehicle lease scheme. For this reason the vans are badge with a German number plate. In any other country a brand new van with foreign plates just means tourist. Effectively that is all we are so the vans are always a bit of a target.
Crew van vandalism is not a new thing either. There have been many things happen to vans over the years. One year a particular van was too big for the hotels underground car park so had to be left on a side street a few blocks away from the hotel. When eventually it was needed again it had been keyed with the tyres deflated and several tickets in the window!
Each time this happens it means not only trying to find a place to have repairs done but done in time and with minimal impact on other crew members who are needed to work. Somebody has to be taken out of the build to make arrangements, liaise with insurance people (who mostly do not speak English) and plan works

The second thing that happened was our support crew who arrive a day later than ourselves was involved in a road traffic accident on the M4 on the way to the airport. The result was the guys had to first get to the airport only to miss their flight and find out that the only remaining flight was at another airport. Travel to that airport and reserve tickets to find that the reservation was cancelled and stay in an airport hotel to fly the next day. Once landed in Spain drive straight to the circuit and begin work effectively 3 hours late.

This kind of thing only highlights the need for a strong and effective team. A team that can cope with these unexpected ‘add ons’ and still get the main job done on time. Yes that means that the first day of the build was a 12+ hour day in the hot sun with a couple more late finishes but nobody is going to thank you for having a incomplete Motor Home come Thursday morning. Once the cameras roll on the paddock everything is shiny and looking its best. There is no indication of what is sometimes the struggle it has taken to get to that stage.

This particular post is focusing on the Motor home but have you ever considered what would happen if the race car transporter broke down or fell off a cliff. If the plane carrying the freight for a fly away crashed into mountains? Every other week you turn on the TV and you expect your favourite team and driver to be on the grid come Sunday and for many years this is exactly what has happened but it may not have been as straight forward as you think to put them there.

This is Ben signing off till next week.

 

 

The Season Starts, Its Lights Out & Away We Go..

Here we are, its finally arrived and the season has got under way for both of us! Before we go any further, the plan is to both post once a week each with our antics throughout the season and therefore give a realistic insight as to what working within F1 and British Motorsport in 2015 really involves and taking all of you on the ride along with us this season.

Being a local to the circuit of Brand Hatch, I don’t need to find an excuse to go and with Ben away in Barcelona with his F1 team i’m not sitting at home moping around this year! I would still prefer it if he were here, we are such a team neither functions that well without the other so I am still missing him like crazy even with all my own motorsport action this season.

So we move onto this week, on Saturday I headed up to Brands, I should have been with Ali Rushforth’s team all weekend, were it not for a touch of fate getting in the way, as Ali went to load the car he started her up and it became clear that her engine had blown, so that as they say was that, his MG Trophy race weekend over before it had even started.

Ali needed to source another engine so he still came down on the Saturday so I had the chance to grab a chat and have a catch up before off Ali went to see what could be found. Astoundingly by the time he left to go back to Didcot that afternoon he had it all sorted and so onto Donington for him, however, what does that say about the MG community? competitors and rivals on track but friends and family off track and willing to rally round to help.

It was still a good day and I had gone up to Brands Hatch with our once twitter friend who’s now become a great friend in the real world too Mark, he kept me company on Saturday and we were planning this weekend which sees us trackside yet again at Brands Hatch for the Blancpain GT’s and we shall be spending the day in Stopwatch Hospitality again.

I also got to meet up with others that till then I only spoke to on twitter, Jay Mooney being one. Jay is another MG Trophy driver and genuinely didn’t mind spending some time chatting, likewise was the lovely Nathalie McGloin, who is the ONLY female in the UK with spinal injuries and an ARDS.

Nathalie and I had spent the previous week chatting and I got to interview her in this PitCrewOnline piece. It was nice to go and meet her and put a face to the name, especially as she had just finished 12th in her 2nd ever race! A name to watch and I will definitely stay in touch and follow her season with interest.

After a long day and lots of new faces it was time to head home a little tired and overwhelmed with the day, little did I realise that Saturday was NOTHING compared to the week coming.

The week started quietly and I got to work at writing and publishing Nathalie’s piece, then the most crazy series of events happens…

In case you didn’t know I also write for www.thepitcrewonline.net and some of the crew are followed by different people to me. They were all RTing the interview and somehow WEC Spa 6hrs winner Fernando Rees had seen it and Favourited it, what happened next is now a bit of a blur, the short story is he allowed me to interview him next. To say i was absolutely stunned is an understatement, i’m still in shock I think

My Fernando Rees interview will go live in the very near future! (FR interview can now be found here)

Around the same time I was talking with British GT’s driver Dennis Strandberg,  as i’ve been working on him being my next driver interview, at the time he wanted to wait till after his next race which was last Sunday at Rockingham. He came 2nd in the GT4 class with his team mate Will Moore and so we had something to talk about, although with my busy week we’ve not yet finished that, but in the meantime its been fun getting to know him, definitely give him a follow, he only recently joined twitter and so its very easy to chat with him there, and oh my what a week of joking that has been!!

There’s also some other things going on that I can’t yet share yet, I certainly will as the seasons progress and the times become right.

Its Ben’s turn next and so early next week, Tuesday I believe he will be posting his 1st week away racing, so you’ll all get your F1 fix then.

catch you all again soon

 

Sandra

 

British GT’s Media Day 2015

 

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It was a sunny Wednesday morning and Life In The pitlane went off to Brands Hatch to walk their pit lane and admire all the fresh new British GT cars for the 2015 season.

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I admit GT’s is new to me however as a McLaren car fan as well as the F1 team, I am very aware of their stunning cars, this is probably the main reason, the idea of prestige cars careering around a track, I mean come on! and with 13 Aston Martins in the mix to say the least, it seems to be in the common man’s term posh cars racing!

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I had Leah Nicole with me, who likewise is no expert in this field even though we have spent many days at Brands Hatch, this has been to watch BTCC ,now ask me about that and i may actually have an answer.

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However what did happen while there was a rush of emotion that can only lead to one outcome, a whole new motorsport love affair, to see a McLaren 650s and an Aston Martin Vantage racing around  track, with the roar of a big V12 engine…..oh that sound!!!!

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lets not forget yes others were in attendance, BMW Z4 & Porsche,Mercedes Benz SLS AMG & Ferrari 458 Italia (not in attendance at the Media Day), Lotus Evora & Toyota GT86…..oh boy I suddenly have a lot more to do this year too…..alot more pit lane action for me!!!

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So Near Yet So Far

 

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So the time to get up at silly o’clock is here and that means the start of a new season in F1. The wait is over and its time to see who ‘s who on track.

As my role within F1 falls consists of Audio Visual work within the team Motorhomes my actual F1 season doesn’t start until May when the circus moves to a mainly European location.

This means that for the first four races I am watching as a fan but as well as looking at who’s who on track I am looking at who’s who off track. All the people that are walking the paddock and working in the garages are the same mechanics, journalists and ex racing drivers that will be at the races I will attend.

Although as I said I am watching as a fan I am also watching something very familiar, similar in some ways to a déjà vu.

I have loved Motor Racing from a teenager and I have followed F1 since then. That equates to around 10 years of viewing as just a fan. 10 years of not really paying that much attention to who was standing in the garage or who was at the podium celebrations etc. Then it’s just some bloke or a group of non-descript blokes jumping and cheering. 10 years of wondering what it would be like to be there.

Personally I was very lucky to get to work in F1 and I never, not once ever planned to get a job within the sport. The day I walked into a race circuit and then into a team garage and stand next to a real F1 car was a very surreal experience. One I will never forget.

These days my viewing of the race is of course completely different. I have a good knowledge of the way things are done, the protocols that are in place and the faces of those working in the garage. No longer is it some bloke, it is a person I may consider a friend, somebody that I have had some good times with and seen them doing and saying things that will forever remain in the private domain but I know happened.  I may see somebody that has been out of f1 for a season or two working for a team or organisation and I make a mental note to go see him or her when I get trackside.  On track if the car is does or is doing well it adds an extra buzz of excitement that you may get a chance to run to the pit wall and be apart of that crowd at the foot of the podium yourself.

As well as that there is also the realisation in the back of your mind that your season is fast approaching and whatever you may have left to do in your preparations in and out of work it needs to be done sooner rather than later. Work wise its not so bad because you have a set deadline and the set-up time at the circuit so any final things can in a worst case be finished there. At home however you are leaving for (in my case nearly a month) an extended period and so certain things need to be planned ahead or be in place because you don’t want to be sorting your personal life when you hundreds of miles away. Of course things do pop up when you’re away but its best to try and keep that to a minimum.

When your working at the circuit you may not get the chance to pay 100% attention to the race, you may not get to see it at all so being at home on the sofa with a cup of coffee and your racing buddy is nice. Once the race has finished you can turn the TV off and go make a Sunday roast which is also nice knowing that those guys out there have to now pack up. On the other hand there is a part of you that wishes you were there and it makes you look forward to getting involved.

That feeling also comes with a pinch of guilt if, like me you have a young family. You may be looking forward to being in F1 but you are not looking forward to leaving them behind.  Older children can be told and have an understanding of why you have to leave but a baby does not. This is something that I find difficult to deal with, knowing that mummy will have to deal with everything that the baby throws up which will include a few frustrated tears at wondering where I am. Skype does help a little but you can’t have cuddles through a web cam.

So watching the first four races is a mixed bag of emotions but one thing to look forward to when you do the European races only is that you know that you can watch the conclusion to the season back on the sofa with that cup of coffee and my racing buddy who also happens to be the love of my life.

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