I finished university several years ago full of enthusiasm and confidence. My degree was strong, my knowledge base solid and my vision of the future crystal clear. However, my first assignment in my new job role opened my eyes to just how little I really knew about the motorsport world.
Having worked for Cosworth Electronics for a matter of weeks, I was sent to support a World Record Attempt for a twin jet turbine engined speed boat. Not the formula cars I had worked on throughout university. Not the closed wheel monsters I was familiar with from weekend work. Speedboats.
Now don't get me wrong, speedboats are cool. This particular speed boat had over 6000hp and was over 15 meters in length. Despite its carbon fibre hull, the catamaran still weighed 3 tonnes. This thing was a colossus.
The boat was so far removed from anything I had learnt about during my studies, and was not something I had even considered when it came to motorsport. Suddenly, I felt way in over my head.
I spent the 2 days prior to the run getting familiar with the beast. I traced wiring through the hull. I plugged in my laptop and offloaded datasets, settings and logged data. I scrutinised every aspect of the boat that was accessible to me in an attempt to understand the task that lay ahead of me. I kept in constant contact with more experienced engineers back in the UK, and slowly managed to take a bite out of the huge elephant. I was fortunate that support from Cosworth was fantastic which really helped things.
Then came the big day. A world record attempt was on the cards.
A fear of overshooting the stopping zone at the end of the course meant dragster style parachutes were attached to the boat. Unfortunately these deployed prematurely due to the intense g-forces. On that failed run, the boat made 210mph. TWO HUNDRED AND TEN MILES PER HOUR WITH THE PARACHUTES DEPLOYED. This indicated that the parachutes in fact would have very little affect, and so were removed for run number two.
Despite a nasty accident of another boat during the event, the pilots throttled on from the staging area and brought the speed up. All the way to 244mph. A new record.
My part in this endeavour was small. The boat had been set up prior to me arriving by a colleague and I was really only there to monitor for errors. But I was still a part of it. The feeling within the team, with the pilots, the engineers, the mechanics, was euphoric.
I had survived my baptism of fire. And am a far better engineer for doing so.
The standard format of most races is as follows:
Line up on the grid
Drive a formation lap
Line up on the grid… again
Start the Race
Drive the Race
Finish the Race
Not complex. Not messy. Not taxing. Sometimes this format isn't quite followed. Sometimes things don't quite go to plan.
At the British Touring Car Championship season opener this past weekend, the race did not get going until the third attempt. Following two formation laps (as it is a short circuit) the first race had an aborted start as the pole sitter suffered mechanical difficulties. This would have almost guaranteed a huge incident so the safest thing to do was wait.
After another two formation laps, the cars lined up again. This time there was a huge incident on the start/finish straight and the race was red flagged after just a few hundred meters of racing. The cars drove around the track, stopping short of the grid to allow for clean-up. During this time the cars were in parc ferme, but mechanics were given access to allow for final checks and to ensure the cars kept cool.
After yet another two formation laps, the cars lined up once again. Finally we got the race started.
Whilst all of this was going on, the team radios were alive with chatter. The track and championship officials were communicating with team managers, trying to keep them informed of what was happening. The team managers were informing the drivers' engineers, and the engineers were informing the drivers. Questions about grid position, formation laps, fuel quantities, temperatures, pressures, strategy and tyre choice. The sheer amount of information being exchanged was colossal.
Throughout all of this though, the team remained calm and collected. There was no panic and, all things being considered, everything ran smoothly for the restart. And the reason for this sense of calm in such a chaotic situation?
Whatever the outcome, and whatever the circumstance, there is a process for dealing with it. Processes may be general and generic, but can be tailored to suit situations such as this. Having both the experience and confidence to deal with chaotic and fluid situations sets the difference between the good teams and the best teams. And each element within those teams must have that same mindset and that same preparedness.
Spend the time between races planning and practicing for every eventuality.
Fail to Prepare - Prepare to Fail.
What is the resolution for a change in ride height?
How much will an engine tuner change their target lambda by?
Camber and toe changes tend to fall in what range?
-5° to +5°
And what increments do we change them in?
What is the operating range for engine temperatures?
80°C to 85°C
How much do we alter the angle of attack of the rear wing?
What is the tolerance on a go/no-go gauge?
Tire pressures - what do they get adjusted by?
What is the accepted error on ignition angle?
How much extra fuel do you carry?
Ballast can be moved in what size increments?
How much over the boost limit will get you disqualified?
How much can you win or lose a race by?
Don't think a change is too small, that it is insignificant. That change is what makes you win.
It is the accumulation of tiny changes, of the slightest improvements, that make the difference between first place and everyone else. Being prepared to make adjustments on the micro scale will show itself in the results on the macro scale. It separates those who win from those who compete.
And you only show up at the track to win.
Never to just compete.
One of the main draws of motorsport is just how varied your career can be. I have countless friends from university and from the working in motorsport that belong in every engineering discipline imaginable.
One of my closest friends from university works as an engine designer. Although he rarely gets to a track, he has a passion and a talent for Computer Aided Design. He is visionary and works towards progressing the engine technology in race cars. This will ultimately have a direct impact on road cars.
And he loves his job.
I have a friend who specialize in chassis development, working with 6 poster kinematics and compliance rigs. He finds the tiny nuances in a racing car and help reduce the variability in the dynamic performance. The detail to which he can look in to your chassis and suspension is unbelievable.
And he loves his job.
I have a friend who works with tires. Yes tires. She can tell you exactly what your car is doing out on the track by looking at the sticky rubber stuff. Her ability to read the behavior of the car and explain what can be done to improve it is remarkable. Its a black art that she is well on the way to mastering.
And she loves her job.
Specializing in motorsport should not be something to shy away from. Quite the opposite is true. Specializing opens up the world to you and your skillset becomes far more desirable. When you start out soak up all the knowledge you can, and use that knowledge to decide where you want to concentrate. Do you want to be a designer? Do you want to be an aerodynamicist? How about a race engineer? Or a strategist? Maybe you would like to work in hospitality or public relations? You could perhaps go in to driver coaching, chassis development or engine tuning?
The list is literally endless.
Pick a specialism that appeals to you and apply yourself to be the best you can be at it. Become the person with a reputation in the field of your choosing. If you try to be a master of all trades, you will fail. No one ever is. It is the people who are good at their niche that really excel in motorsport. It is only by specializing that you will be able to freelance; no one hires someone who claims to be able to do everything!
I am a data engineer. And I have plenty of friends who are also data engineers. I get to work with a huge variety of cars and teams, finding the secrets to performance in the squiggly lines on our laptops. I get to travel all over the world to help teams decipher what the black boxes on the cars are trying to tell them. I have worked on boats in Missouri, motorbikes in France, hypercars in the UK and I'm not close to being done.
And guess what?
I love my job.
Find out more about Specializing in Motorsport in the Starting on Pole book, available here.
When you watch a Formula One race, it is very easy to believe that everything on those cars is optimised. That everything is the very best it can be. The pinnacle of technology and development.
You would be wrong.
Everything on those cars is a compromise. What sets Formula One apart from lower classes of motorsport is the compromises are being decided on by using the best software, the smartest people and most money. Don't get me wrong, a Formula One car is a truly amazing piece of engineering and is the very best it can be. But to believe that everything on the car is ideal is incorrect.
I'll use Formula One in this post as it provides the most extreme examples, but the principles and lessons can be applied to any form of motorsport. In fact, any form of engineering come to think of it...
On an F1 car, aero is king. If you work in F1, or intend to in the future, remember that statement. Aero is king. It takes precedence over everything else. This means that everything designed to be on the outside of the car is compromised to improve the aerodynamics. The most obvious example of this is the suspension system. Look how flat and thin the wishbones are on the cars. They are shaped like mini aerofoils so as not to disrupt the air flow by creating turbuence. The air moving between the nose and the wheel is destined to end up either under the car in the diffuser, passing through a radiator, or moving up and interacting with that giant rear wing. As a suspension designer, you would want your wishbones to be made of tubes, with uniform stress distributions and linear behaviour under bending. The aerodynamicists would throw that design out and tell you to try again. The result is a suspension system that has been moved away from the ideal. A compromise.
There are plenty of other examples:
The Exhaust - Length and geometry and designed in a way that best advantages the airflow at the back of the car. It won’t be optimised for engine torque.
The Wheels - Designed to reduce turbulence and calm down the airflow. Probably not the lightest they can be, but more functional.
Radio Antennas - Ideally, they wouldn't be there at all. The generous Aerodynamicists let you have a few centimetres in the middle of the nose cone. Radio transmissions have been known to suffer.
Don't think that the compromise is all one way however. Every compromise made also affects the aero package on the car. Suspension needs to hold the wheels on. Exhausts need to vent somewhere. Wheels need to spin. Radios need to transmit.
And the biggest bug-bear for any aero engineer - that pesky driver insists on sticking his head out right in the middle of the car. To help, they give him a fancy streamlined helmet, but wouldn't it be so much nicer if he wasn't there in the first place?
Remember as you progress through your career that you are constantly looking for the best compromise. You want the best for the car as a whole - not necessarily what's best for your little bit. Be patient with your colleagues and take the time to understand the implications that your changes will have on other areas.
Having the best suspension, exhaust routing, wheels, radio or helmet will not win a race individually. But compromise and get the best combination of them? Now you're on to a winner!
Before your first trip to the the track you may have a lot of questions about exactly what you should be bringing. On my first excursion trackside, I massively over estimated the equipment I would need. Not wanting to be left without something essential, I brought pretty much everything I could.
This was a mistake.
I ended up with a heavy and cumbersome bag, that I had to drag to and from the track for 3 days, and used pretty much nothing from it.
Below is my revised kit. This kit does vary slightly depending on which championship and team I am working with, as well as the likely issues I might come across. Remember that I work as a data engineer, so the contents have been tailored to that role. There are however, a few universal essentials which I have marked with asterisks...
1. Maglite - a proven torch, used by the militiary and police forces around the world. Hard wearing, waterproof, great on batteries and comes with spare bulbs. Great for investigating those annoying wiring issues tucked behind a dashboard or deep in an engine bay.
2. Multitool - This comes to the track in my bag but generally lives in my pocket. Pliers, screwdrivers and knife allow you to tackle a host of issues. Having it close by means this can happen quickly.
3. *Custom Ear Plugs - These are moulded to my ears. You can get them as simply noise cancelling, or with inbuilt speakers to work as earphones as I do. Expensive, but working around race engines is noisy work. These will help protect your hearing through the years.
4. *Suncream - Don't forget this. You will regret it for weeks!
5. Multimeter Leads - When diagnosing electrical issues, I like to know that my fault finding equipment is up to scratch. These Fluke multimeter leads are some of the best you can buy.
6. Multimeter - As above, buy the best you can afford. Theres nothing worse then chasing a problem will faulty equipment. My fluke multimeter is used frequently to track down electrical gremlins.
7. Wire Repair Kit - Being able to quickly fix damaged wiring will make you very popular amongst the team. Get the car back out ASAP with a well stocked repair kit.
8. Laptop - A good laptop is the bedrock of being a data engineer. I have a custom one built by PC Specialists. The one in the picture is a little on the heavy side for my liking, but has not let me down functionally. I also use a Microsoft Surface at times. Whilst not perfect for data analysis due to the smaller screen, no Ethernet port and only a single USB port, it is much lighter and thinner. I tend to use the Surface for non-track work (such as writing reports... or articles.)
9. *Sunglasses Case - Your sunglasses will spend a lot of time in your bag. Keep them in a sturdy case so as not to damage them!
10. *Sunglasses - Good sunglasses will help you in all seasons. The low sun in winter and relelntless sun in summer - both can be comabtted by good quality sunglasses. The ones in the photo are Oakley's but I have used RayBans in the past. The important thing is comfort - you might be wearing them for hours on end.
11. *Clothes - A spare change of clothes is always in the bottom of my bag. Clean underwear, socks, and a T-Shirt mean you can survive over 24 hours at the track without becoming offensive and unhygenic. A plain white t-shirt is shown in the photo. This can be used as an undershirt. Alternatively, a spare team top can be included.
12. Hard Drive - Backing up data is important and something I endeavour to do frequently. Always be careful bring remote data storage devices to the track through. They contain lots of goodies the competition would love to get their hands on!
13. Ethernet Kit - Sometimes you won't have what you need to communicate with some elctronics on the car. An ethernet kit will really help here. It also lets you link up laptops and servers with the team and can aid data sharing.
14. Laptop Charger - Self explanatory. Don't forget this! You won't last a morning as a data engineer.
15. *Watch - I use a Casio G-Shock whilst at the track. Its rugged, reliable and radio controlled so it's always spot on. I tend to avoid bringing expensive chronograph watches to the track as I think that is asking for trouble. The risk of scratching your expensive Swiss watch is too great!
16. *Track Pass - You won't get in to the paddock without one. They also make great momentos, especially early in your career. Mine either lives in my bag, or tied on to the belt loops on my trousers/shorts. I never wear this around my neck. You don't want anything that dangles as things easily get caught in all of those spinning hazards around the garages. You should keep it on your person throughout the day though.
17. *Toothbrush - If you're working overnight, brushing your teeth in the morning has a strange way of waking you up. It seems to shock your brain in to thinking its the morning and therefore time to be awake. It also rerfreshes you and gets your ready for the day. The one pictured is a disposable one from an British Airways flight.
18. Screwdriver - This screwdriver has 4 different heads and provides a complete range of flat and phillips. Again useful to keep close to hand for those quick changes and repairs.
19. Ruler - Measuring things now and then is a necessity. Keep this in your pocket just in case. It weighs nothing and takes up virtually no room.
20. *Pens - Plural. Have a few in your pockets for jotting down notes or marking things. They are also great to have to hand if your driver is caught without one when asked for an autograph.
21. Permanent Markers - Useful for marking sensors and wiring, or the position of components before and after a run. Always have one in your pocket and a couple in your bag. Again, useful for autographs if your driver is caught without.
22. Torch - A spare torch just in case. This one is lighter and smaller than the MagLite, but not quite as robust. I tend to keep this in my pocket with the pens and ruler.
23. USB Sticks - The same warning applies here as to the harddrive. Use with caution. They are useful for moving data within the team but never leave them unattended or with data actually on them. They are not "backup" storage. Use, but with caution.
24. *Business Cards - You never know who you will meet at the track. It's always worth having some business cards with you. Suppliers, team managers, event organisers, drivers... there's always interesting people around that it is worth introducting yourself to.
25. Mechanical Pencil - My preference over as pen simply because it is waterproof. You won't want your notes becoming illegible due to rain. See "Moleskin Notebook" below.
26. Moleskin Notebook - I take notes throughout the day in a notebook which I refer back to at a later time. These notes are used to create post-event reports and to analyse recurring issues. These notes are become your "Book of Knowledge" and will help you understand problems as time goes on.
27. Carroll Smith - Engineer in You Pocket - A fantastic flipbook that will help diagnose chassis and balance issues for the car. Great for race engineers and data engineers alike. Its always in my bag, although not used frequently.
28. Engineer's Data Book - Just a very useful basic engineering principles pocket book. Not essential, but I have referred to it in the past.
29. Zeus Table - If you ever need to use the lathe and milling machines at the track, this set of tables provides all the design for manufacture information you will need. Again, not essential, but very useful in the right circumstances.
30. *Phone Charger - USB phone charger with a removable USB cable. Great for charging phones and cameras, you will also be popualar amongst team mates for sharing. Pay attention to the style of plug - the one pictured is for the UK, but I have multiple depending on the country I am visiting.
31. *Backpack - Finally somewhere to keep everything. The backpack should be sturdy and accomodating, without being too heavy. There is little point slimming odwn your kit only to put it in a ludicrously heavy bag. Spend some money and get a comfortable one!
This list is not extensive, and as mentioend, changes depending on the event. It also has evolved over time and I would expect your's too aswell. Don't worry too much when you start out - the team will have the majority of things you need if you don't have them with you. As you progress in your career, it does appear much more professional to have your own kit and equipment.
You won’t always win. That is the nature of motorsport. Everyone wants to win and everyone strives to win, but only one team can win.
If you turn up to a motorsport event without believing you can win, then you have already lost. Henry Ford once said “Whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you are right”, and nowhere is that more true than in the competitive arena of motorsport. Being confident in your ability as a person and as a team is a big part of achieving that podium top step, but the danger is that confidence gives way to cockiness, which in turn breeds complacency. At this point, you have lost.
During the early 2000’s, Formula 1 was dominated by Ferrari and Michael Schumacher. The combination of blistering performance from the car, and the unmatchable talent of the driver meant the races became “who’s coming in second place today?” contests. Following that, Renault dominated with Alonso. Then it was Red Bull with Vettel. And now it is Mercedes. Do you believe that these teams ever become complacent? Do you think they are ever overly confident in their victories? No. These teams, the engineers, the mechanics and the drivers, put the same effort in whether it is they are chasing their first win of the season, or the tenth. The work is relentless and even after a championship is secured, they push until the chequered flag of the final race. Everyone in these teams believe they can win.
All that being said, sometimes things don’t work in your favour. Bad weather, a puncture, an accident; things will work against you and the victory will seep away. Sometimes you will enter a championship with a car that is simply not competitive. When Mercedes turned up at the first race in 2014 with their wildly out-of-the-box-thinking split turbo V6, they dominated. No one else was competitive. But they all still turned up and they all still raced. At Canada, something happened. What Mercedes would call a disaster, and what Red Bull would call a miracle. The two Mercedes cars suffered almost simultaneous failures of the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (MGU-K). The result was the 20 second lead was worthless and Red Bull claimed the first non-Mercedes win of the season. Red Bull had ploughed through and it had paid off!
So no, you will not always win. You will not always make the podium. You will not always be competitive. You will not always even finish the race! But if you give your everything, to every race, eventually you will win.
Stick it out.
How do you spend your time?
The language we use around time is identical to the language we use around money. Think about it:
We spend time. We spend money.
We save time. We save money.
We make time. We make money.
We waste time. We waste money.
What we rarely do though, is earn time. Our attitude towards time is one that is set mainly by society. We exchange our time, which is our most limited and finite resource, for money in the hope that we have the opportunity to exchange that money back at a better rate. It is what is known in the financial markets as a future’s trade. Of course, the exchange rate rarely goes in our favour.
We spend around 40 hours a week working, plus the time to commute. On top of that, mornings are usually timed to get the most time in bed, and evenings are spent recovering before we do it all again. When you take sleep out of the equation, you spend two thirds of your time at work converting your time in to money, which you hope can be converted back in to time at a better rate in the future. But the maths is plain to see. Time is finite. And two thirds are gone. That leave at best, one third assuming a perfect exchange rate – no commission in the guise of overtime, weekend work, answering email or stressing about what needs going when you go back in on Monday morning.
You can work more hours and earn more money, but you will have less time in which you can spend it. You have exchanged time for money and lost on the buy-back. This is the trap that we should try to avoid. We assume that we can save for retirement or have the nice house and car to enjoy at the weekends. But if our retirement never comes, or the weekends are spent recovering from work, what have you actually earned? Your investment is fruitless.
For many, the idea of being wealthy is simply the size of your house, the model of your car, and the balance in your bank account. But if all of that comes at the expense of being able to enjoy life, are you actually rich? If you can’t spare the time to take a break and explore the world, to experience new cultures and meet new people, you are not time-wealthy. Your bet on the time-money futures market has not paid off.
Fortunately, there are plenty of people willing to sell you their time. Most of us are. Anyone working the 9 to 5 probably is. So reinvest your money and hire a local tour guide, or a virtual assistant. Spend your money on experiences and assets that free up your time to reinvest in your life. The nice car is great, but can you take it on a 3 month once-in-a-lifetime tour across America? The big house is lovely, but can you exchange it for 6 months for an apartment in Singapore?
Once you know the value of your time, you are in a position of power. A position to invest in yourself and watch your time nest-egg grow!
P.S. If you’re wondering what this has to do with motorsport… that is how I spend my time. And it’s fantastic value for time!
The season is over.
All 30 rounds of the British Touring Car Championship are finished. It is done.
So how did the team do?
This is not the story of the final race weekend. There are endless reports on countless websites that can give you that story. What this is, is an overview of being in a team that is fighting for the championship.
Each weekend consists of 3 races and my driver, Sam, went in to the weekend leading the championship by 14 points. That may seem like a good advantage, but there were nine fellow competitors who could mathematically win, and 5 who were actually likely to put up a good fight. As a team, we had our work cut out, and so we got to it.
The ballast system meant Sam had maximum ballast for qualifying and race 1, which hampered the competitiveness of the car for these sessions. The 14-point lead was etched away up until the final race. The championship came down to two drivers – Sam (Tordoff) and Gordon (Shedden).
During the race, part of my role is to man the pitboard for Sam. The information we display is current track position and number of laps remaining. Laps remaining, with the exception of laps under safety car, is a simple countdown. I can keep track of that quite easily. Track position however, I can’t know. I don’t have easy access to the track television system, certainly not without running over to the race engineer’s pit perch. Sam’s race engineer often will update me on position as a race is ongoing, but there was a lot going on this weekend so it was, understandably, not a priority. So I devised a plan…
From the pit wall I can see in to the garage. In the garage are Sam’s friends and family. In particular, his sister and girlfriend. Their reactions give me an excellent indication of Sam’s progress throughout the race. Euphoria probably means he has gained a place. Despair probably means he’s lost one. So I kept an eye on them, adjusting the board as necessary, and counting cars as they passed to confirm I had it right. (Initiative like this is a great skill to develop –think how you can use a situation to resolve a problem!)
It got to the point where Gordon had made his way passed Sam. Sam didn’t make a mistake. The car was not under-performing. Gordon simply out-drove him. He was able to call on the years of experience and take advantage of track position. This put Sam and Gordon level in the championship standings, with Gordon going to win based on number of podiums. That would be a tough thing to swallow.
Somewhat fortunately, Gordon overtook the next car up the road, putting him 2 points ahead in the championship, giving him a clear lead.
And that is how the race finished.
So that’s the drama dealt with. The driver’s championship was decided. Sam came second by 2 points. What did that do to the team’s morale?
It was tough. For half of the season we had been leading the driver’s championship and then in the final race, it was snatched away. That was the feeling within the team.
For a few hours after the race, this shadow of defeat hung over us. Slowly though, slowly things changed. The attitude changed to “Hey, we came second! And only by 2 points! That is an awesome achievement!”. This was quickly followed by “We won the Team Championship and the Manufacturer’s Championship! That’s two out of three! We did great!”
There were team drinks late in to the night (and early in to the morning), where the team were positive and enjoying their victories. They acknowledged their achievements and enjoyed the success together. Drivers, mechanics, engineers, managers, caterers and hospitality all shared a drink, toasted and partied. It was a victory and it was a success.
This recovery from dejection to elation is so critical to making it in motorsport. The ability to acknowledge yourself and your team as successful by any real world standard will mean you are driven to come back. Winning is what you are at the track to do. And if you don’t achieve what you want, you must be able to dust yourself off and try again. Two out of three championships is a great success – that cannot be denied and should not be forgotten. The driver’s championship was so, so close and next year, the team will be back, better, stronger and more determined than ever to get three for three.
Watch this space…
Whether you are a mechanic or an engineer, there will come a time where you are responsible for the car not being ready on time. That is not to say you have not done your job well, but simply the issues that have arisen have not been rectified in the time available to you. This causes issues.
Another emotional weekend at the races has just passed, with several ups and down, mechanical and electrical failures showing up here and there, and a general firefighting approach required to get the cars to the grid. Not ideal, but unfortunately necessary this time around.
The anecdote I share this week is one that everyone at the sharp end of motorsport will have encountered countless times over their career, and something to be aware of as you start out. That issue is do you send the car to the track before you are happy with it? And it is never black and white.
At Silverstone this week Free Practice One went reasonably well. The cars came back in one piece, time was made up, and the cars were solidly “middle of the pack”. Nothing exceptional, but exceptional is not what is expected after FP1. In the hunt for a little extra time, there were some setup changes required to the electronics on the car. The different ways in which the car communicates to the drivers, and the information that is displayed for him can help to find some extra time on track.
The setup changes were completed with about 5 minutes to spare to pitlane open, and should take around 30seconds to upload to the car. So here we go…
Plug in, open the setup, click the “Send” button… it fails.
Cancel that and try again. It fails again.
At this point the data engineer approached me for assistance and I set about work. There are strange demons in the software code (both the data software and the operating system, both of which shall rename unnamed), and these demons cause strange behaviour. Familiar with similar problems from the past, I looked in to security and firewall policies, anti-virus software conflicts, hardware issues, network adaptor settings and a plethora of other usual suspects that were easily and quickly checkable. Nothing worked and the pitlane opened…
So, do you send the car in a less than optimised state, potentially putting the session in to jeopardy? Potentially you risk making the entire session’s performance be off true pace. But on the flip side, this is Free Practice 2; how critical is it really? (If you’ve read the last post, you will be aware that FP2 defines your qualifying setup. So it can be fairly critical to your weekend!)
Making the call to hold up a car during a live session is not something to be taken lightly. This is competitive running time that you are losing out on and therefore you are going to be at a disadvantage to your competitors.
What would you have done?
Ultimately, I decided to send the car without the new setup. My reasons for this are as follows:
What is important to note is that there are a lot of things that would have changed my mind before sending. As an engineer, and as someone in charge of a system or systems on a car, you must be prepared to make tough decisions such as holding a car up. You can however, only do this once you have the authority and experience to do so. Be brave enough to do it when you need to, and smart enough to know when that is.
For those interested, this issue turned out to be related to an anti-virus software update that had happened overnight. The resulting definitions of what was “dangerous” were over-zealous and did not work with our racing car. A silly problem, but one that took a lot of head scratching!
Tom is an engineer working his way through the motorsport industry, sharing stories, anecdotes and lessons to help new engineers coming through the ranks.