Who does what in an F1 team?

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An F1 team directly involves between 300 and 1,200 people, depending on whether it is at the front or back of the grid, whether it manufactures in-house and whether it produces an engine or buys one.

As Lewis Hamilton says almost every day, the people at team headquarters responsible for design, development and manufacturing and those who run the car on the track are the heroes of its success. It’s who does what.


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Leader

This is the main role in the team and it requires a wide range of personality traits, including determination, commitment, patience, chicanery, empathy and diplomacy.

Team leaders not only oversee track and factory operations (an increasingly difficult job with 23 races), they are also heavily involved in sports politics, often conducting negotiations at highest level with the organizers and the FIA.

In the team, the responsibility stops here, even if it is not always the case. Just ask ex-Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul, ex-Williams boss Simon Roberts or Red Bull’s Christian Horner. There is always an owner watching from above.

James Allison, Technical Director, and the Mercedes AMG celebrate

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Technical director

Like the Team Principal, this role is split between overseeing development at the factory and managing operations on the track. Getting the right balance of time between everyone is key to success.

The Technical Director will oversee the initial development of the car, guide its direction and is the ultimate decision maker on all technical aspects, albeit guided by the expert leaders from all the different departments.

It’s often that person’s vision that makes or breaks a team and there are few bigger than Adrian Newey, who at Williams and then Red Bull received multimillion-dollar salaries for his talent.

Traveling team

The sport has become known as the “travelling circus” due to the number of people who travel to put on the show, and even small teams have large numbers of employees who travel around the world for each event.

Racing team

The two drivers are at the center of the race team and behind them there are around 75 people who go to the races to tune, run and, sometimes, repair the car and analyze performance data to develop ways to improve it.

The Head of Race Engineering, or equivalent, pulls the strings on the technical side with help from heads of departments such as strategists, mechanics and data analysts. There is also a sports director, who manages the racing side.

Each driver has a number one mechanic, who is fully responsible for that car and all the mechanics working on it, both in the garage and on the starting grid.

Each mechanic is assigned their own specialist roles and some are also selected to play certain roles during pit stops. The automotive teams are also supported in the garage by the technicians, who take on various maintenance tasks.

Also in the garage are the data analysts and the strategy team, but they’re not just track-based. Live track data is regularly fed back to the factory, where other team members feed it into simulations to predict race scenarios.

In this group there is often the test and reserve driver or another top driver who puts a virtual car through the paces on the track in the simulator, so that preparation is not just limited to hours of actual sessions.

Track team

Alongside those involved with the car, there are a large number of other people involved in setting up, tearing down and running the show in the paddock and escorting VIPs and guests throughout the weekend. -end.

Crews and guests are served three meals a day in these motorhomes, and catering companies are often hired on a long-term basis, as are security services, to keep the motorhome a sanctuary.

Then there’s the on-track marketing team, usually led by the director of communications, with a press officer for each driver, who is often seen standing next to a dictaphone during any post-session interview.

Drivers also have their own assistants, basically their trainer who keeps them fit, hydrated and healthy. Some also have a mental coach, some bring a manager or agent, and others, like Hamilton, sometimes even bring a dog.

Caterham F1 Team's Leafield factory

Caterham F1 Team’s Leafield factory

Picture by: Caterham F1

factory team

The circuit team is just the tip of the iceberg. Team headquarters have evolved enormously since the birth of F1 and are now home to some of the brightest engineering talent on the planet.

graphic design agency

Headed by the Director of Engineering, this massive department is responsible for conceptualizing, designing and developing the car and performing certain tests such as CFD, computational stress analysis and wind tunnel operation.

Working in F1 is so sought after that the design office is filled with some of the brightest engineers in the world – a master’s degree is pretty much a standard requirement, with doctorate levels not unusual these days.

The teams are divided into different sections, each headed by a department head. In the case of Mercedes, there are 11 specialist departments, including simulation, materials, design, development, quality and reliability.

In some cases, these sections are further divided into additional sub-teams, the leaders of which report to the overall chief. Aerodynamics, for example, is usually split into three or four sub-teams, each taking turns in the wind tunnel.

Simulation

A whole team is dedicated to the operation, maintenance and operation of the wind tunnel. At the start of the grid, this covers everything needed to get an aero sub-team in and out and focus on the data.

The same is true in the simulator, which travels more than 100,000 “virtual” kilometers per year. Dedicated software engineers are there to tweak the settings and an operator sets up the test programs that the engineers instruct the rider to run through.

Manufacturing

Teams manufacture parts year-round and while some outsource to supply chain companies, others operate a full manufacturing facility, with high specification machinery that is regularly updated. day.

The factory is headed by the factory manager and the teams that work in this area usually include machinists, who work in metal (or resin, when making parts for the wind tunnel model) and teams laying composites.

Testing and development

The engineers in this part of the factory are responsible for the incredible reliability that F1 enjoys in the modern era, expertly assisted by high-tech machinery such as single and multi-axis platforms that can replay the forces exact results found on any track.

In addition to dynamic test engineers and operators, engineers work on advanced materials analysis, modal analysis, and environmental vibration, and some teams even have an in-house team that designs rigs themselves. tailored.

race bay

It’s a team of highly trained mechanics who work on the cars away from the track, stripping them down when they return, cleaning them, replacing parts that have passed their life limit and putting them all back together again.

DHL truck and Ferrari

DHL truck and Ferrari

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Non-performing departments

Not everyone working in an F1 team is on the technical side, and while these non-performance aspects don’t directly affect results, they are among the most important – as many of them revolve around the money.

Commercial

This oft-forgotten section of the team is actually the most important – because it’s where sponsorship deals are made to provide the money needed to develop the car and keep the team racing.

The Commercial Director leads the team, which includes a Partnership Acquisition Sector, which seeks and seals deals, and a Partner Liaison Sector, whose job is to nurture and develop these relationships.

Logistics and reception

Logistics is organized by a set of coordinators, with a general manager and different sub-teams each covering their own area such as team travel, freight movement, guests and facilities.

It’s a colossal task in itself, moving cars, equipment and people between 23 different locations, with all the passports, logs and documents that go with it.

The cars themselves are driven or raced from circuit to circuit, but teams often have two or three sets of equipment and spare parts. One is still in use and the others are in transit by ship, to reduce airfreight costs for long distance runs.

The hospitality team is responsible for ensuring that everything runs smoothly in the paddock, that VIPs and important partners are happy and that the quality of the experience is up to what is expected of an F1 team.

Communication

Led by the Director of Communications, this department aims to tell the story the way the team wants to tell it. While the race communications team is away, the back-to-base team keeps the wheels running and, occasionally, fights fires.

The world of media has changed drastically in recent years, and is now much more varied than just writing the occasional press release, with staff ranging from video producers to social media advisers and optimizers.

There is often a dedicated creative team responsible for everything from car liveries to letterheads, as it is essential that the “look and feel” is always on brand to portray a smooth and professional team.

Each team will also typically hire their own photographer, who will either have enough dedicated work to keep them busy on that team alone or also work as a commercial press photographer.

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