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Preparing a Pit Crew for an F1 Season

It is not just the car that we spend a huge amount of effort preparing for the new season. That same energy goes into making sure our team members are ready too.

An important branch of our team tree is our mechanics and pit crew. While they might not be in the spotlight between the season finale and the first race of the new season, they are working incredibly hard in the background to be 100% ready to go when Bahrain comes around.

We caught up with Chief Mechanic Matt Deane to find out more.

When does preparation for the new season begin for the team?

Matt: The first pit stop practice of the year is in the first week of January. We use this as a chance to let the team try out different roles within the stop. We have three crews - Race 1, 2, and 3 - and not everyone does every race, so having team members able to step in and fulfill multiple roles is so important and gives everyone a lot of confidence.

We want to make sure the teamwork factor is high. We have gym sessions that focus on general fitness as well as cardio and within those we will try and mix characters up, so pairing those who go to the gym a lot with those who do not go very often, so that they can push each other along. We try to make it as fun as possible all the way the through the season.

What makes a good member of the Pit Crew? What skills are you looking for if you are bringing someone new into the team?

The most important aspect of bringing a new member of the team through is setting a plan from day one. What do you want? Where do you want to be? We want to be as welcoming as possible and give everybody a chance to try everything. You have to want to be on the pit crew. You must be good at handling that pressure, not just in the stops themselves, but between sessions – we might need to re-build the car after an accident or problem, for example.

Each part of a pit stop will come with requirements. If you are on a wheel gun you need that hand-to-eye coordination. If you are going to be taking the wheel on and off then you need that physical strength, and the same goes for the rear jack. If you need to lift the car up after one lap when it’s full of fuel, then you must have that physical capability.

If you’re on the front jack and that car is going to be coming at you down the pitlane at 80km/h, then you can’t have any fear. You must want to do those roles, and we have a lot of great characters that come forward. It is so exciting, and they get a buzz from it.

What have we been focusing on this winter? How do we make sure a mechanic is prepared to take on a new season?

Winter is a super busy time, and the car build process means we are effectively working 24 hours a day within the team, so we operate in shifts. There is so much hard work that goes into these months, but we must make sure everyone is well rested ahead of testing and the first race – making sure they are eating the right things and getting enough sleep. We do not want any burn-out. There is such a good spirit in the team right now because everyone is excited for a new season, with a new car – it means there is a new car that is at the forefront of technology to work on!

When February rolls around and we are in the rhythm of pit stop practice, you can see the competitiveness and energy in every single person. They know that car launch is getting closer, testing too. It is refreshing.

What are our key aims for 2024?

Our objectives have always been the same: to prepare the car to our absolute best abilities, and make sure we leave no room for error. Do we have the right information from the engineers? Have we got the right tools to do the job? Regardless of position, we are there to ensure that the car does not break down when it goes on track, that it completes every session without mechanical issue, and that we have no issues at our pit stops on Sunday.

If something does go wrong, we raise it. We talk about it. We sit down in the post-race debrief, get all the team together and look at what happened. Everybody knows what is expected of them. There are thousands of people back at the factory that prepare the car, and we are at the end of the chain building it for a race weekend, and we do not want to be responsible for letting them down. Our objectives never really change. We all want to do the best job we can to the highest standards.