The F1 Life And Family Life


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
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Sandra &nBen Hebbourn 2015 ©

Post Author: Cassandra Hebbourn

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