Sunday, June 29, 2008

David Richards

BAR is owned by British American Tobacco and Richards is the man contracted to run the team. Richards brought with him his own management team from his thriving engineering business, Prodrive. Like Todt and Andersson, Richards first made his name in the sport of rallying (see the section “The company-employee boss” for more information on these two men).

Flavio Briatore

MD Flavio Briatore runs the Renault Formula One team. Briatore was previously in charge of the Benetton team that Renault, upon its return to the sport after a few years absence, bought out. Briatore’s background is purely commercial. He has no technical expertise (once asked a question about a fuel filter, he replied: “Hey, I wouldn’t know the difference between a fuel filter and a coffee filter”). Briatore’s lack of technical expertise, however, hasn’t stopped him from being one of the most successful of all team bosses.

Tony Purnell, Ford

The history of Ford’s Formula One involvement has determined the unique structure of its Jaguar-branded team. Ford bought the former Stewart team and initially used management from within the parent company to run it before contracting ex-drivers Bobby Rahal and Niki Lauda to run the show. Recently, it’s come round full-circle and now the team is run by Tony Purnell, an engineer and former chairman of a specialist racing technology company that Ford bought out.

Ove Andersson, Toyota

Ove Andersson, one of Todt’s contemporaries on the rallying scene, made the transition to running a manufacturer’s competition department with a certain condolence, in this case Toyota Europe’s. When Toyota decided to enter the Formula One arena, it retained Andersson to oversee the new project.

Luca di Montezemelo, Fiat

His name maybe sounds like Montezuma, the famous Aztec emperor, but for Fiat, this man is Ferrari President Luca di Montezemelo: Montezemelo, a trained lawyer, also oversees the entire Ferrari and Maserati operation, including production of their road-going sports cars. He had previously served as Ferrari team manager in the 1970s before going on to a series of high-profile management roles within the Agnelli empire that owns Fiat and, therefore, ultimately, Ferrari too. He was brought back into the Ferrari fold after the team had suffered a disastrous season in 1991.
Montezemelo brought in Jean Todt to be “sporting director” of the Formula One team, and Todt in turn hired Michael Schumacher as a driver and Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne to head up the technical department. This has proved to be the most successful team of individuals in Ferrari’s long history. Montezemelo only rarely appears at races and the running of the team falls to Todt, a brilliant organiser who first made his name in the 1960s and 1970s as a rally co-driver. Todt then went on to run the competition department of Peugeot, overseeing both its rallying and sports car racing programmes, before Montezemelo recruited him for Ferrari.

The F1 team-owner boss

Ever since Formula One came to be dominated by small, specialist teams in the late 1950s, the team owner has come to be the traditional boss. He is the man who has usually founded the team, risked his own finances, and attracted the financial partners who support the team. He is also the one who continues to make the long term decisions. But the team owner may be chairman of the board and so have to answer to board members on the consequences of these decisions.
The current crop of team-owner bosses include men who have different backgrounds and arrived at their current positions via different routes:

Team Owner Team
Frank Williams Williams F1
Ron Dennis McLaren-Mercedes
Peter Sauber Team Sauber
Eddie Jordan Jordan Grand Prix
Paul Stoddard Minardi F1

Williams, Sauber and Jordan all began as race drivers, although none of them made it to Formula One. They quickly transferred their expertise to setting up teams in junior categories of racing and, through hard graft, sharp brains, and sometimes a little luck, made their way into Formula One. Dennis progressed from being a mechanic to a team owner through a similar combination of qualities. He took over the McLaren F1 operation in the early 1980s through a sponsor-initiated merger with his Formula Two team. Stoddard made his fortune in the airline business and, as a man with a passion for Formula One, first became involved in it as a sponsor. Eventually he bought an existing team and became, de facto, its boss.

Although Williams is the majority shareholder in his team, his Technical Director Patrick Head is a co-owner. They jointly run the team between them, but Williams has the final say. Jordan retains the controlling stake in his team, but it is part-owned by a bank. Dennis remains the ultimate boss at McLaren, though the team’s technical partner DaimlerChrysler has a 40 per cent share. Only Sauber and Stoddard are fully independent, though their teams are minnows compared to the likes of McLaren and Williams.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

F1 Race Team

Atop Formula One team employs between 600 and 900 people who work within dozens of departments: design, drawing, manufacture, marketing, administration, travel, information technology, electronics, accounting, systems, test teams, race teams and more. Since the numbers employed exploded during the 1980s and 1990s, running a team went way beyond the control of a single person. Structured managerial systems had to be imposed to keep track of all the various facets of what is both a business and a sport. Nevertheless, teams are headed by individuals who have their own individual visions and circumstances. In addition, the teams themselves come from differing historical backgrounds. For these reasons, even though every Formula One team today is run as a highly structured managed business, no two teams are alike. Each has its own very unique way of doing things and its own structure. No “Formula One team blueprint” exists that can explain how all teams work. Taking all these variables into account, we simply provide a loose explanation of the team structure and the folks involved.
There are no set rules governing team structure and no single definition of what the various titles mean. One team may use a title differently than another team. Titles are just labels that make sense only when related to other labels within the same team. Usually, a team’s structure is built around the nature of the skills of the people at the top rather than force-fitting individuals into a pre-defined structure.

Specialist teams, auto manufacturers and others: The folks who make the cars

Specialist teams such as McLaren and Williams build the cars and run the whole enterprise. They have the premises, facilities, and staff that design and build the machines. Major car manufacturers such as Honda, BMW, and Mercedes are also involved in Formula One – but as engine suppliers. The manufacturers usually go into partnership with a team so that, for example, Honda supplies engines to BAR, while BMW motors power the Williams cars. There are exceptions, though. Ferrari has always produced its own engines, as well as chassis, and Ferrari’s recent success has some people thinking that there may be something in this. Upon its entry into Formula One in 2002, Japanese car manufacturer Toyota decided to go the Ferrari route, establishing a manufacturing base in Cologne, Germany, that designs and builds both chassis and engines.
Ferrari and Toyota also build their own transmissions. Most of the others buy components from a specialist racing gearbox manufacturer, though often to their own design.
Increasingly, no set rule governs who makes what. The car manufacturer Renault, for example, bought the former specialist team Benetton outright and uses its British base and staff to design and build the chassis, but the engines are still produced in France. Jaguar Racing is owned by Ford, with engines supplied by Cosworth – another Ford offshoot. DaimlerChrysler (manufacturers of Mercedes-Benz) has an equity stake in the McLaren team and in the specialist engine manufacturer Ilmor which builds the Formula One engines bearing the Mercedes badge that are fitted into the McLarens. Regardless of who makes the stuff, a Formula One car represents a stunning feat of technology, engineering and design.

Two cars in one: The car that races and the car that qualifies

From the 2003 season Formula One cars have to race just as they qualified on Saturday; no set-up work or additional fuel is allowed in between. But the running order on the track during Saturday qualifying is determined by Friday qualifying, and no restrictions exist on what can be changed between these two days.
As you can imagine, a car that has to do just one flying lap on Friday has different specifications than a car that has to both qualify on Saturday and race on Sunday. On Friday, the speed over one lap is the prime consideration. For that reason, everything is pared down as much as possible. Thinner brake discs are fitted (they don’t have to last a race distance), and the bodywork, which must be more aerodynamically efficient, includes fewer concessions to engine and brake cooling. The biggest difference, however, is the set-up of the cars: On Friday, the suspension settings are optimised for speed over one lap. Such a set-up on race day would quickly destroy the tyres. Similarly, the wing settings are higher than in the race, when speed down the straight is important in order to be able to pass other cars, even if it means sacrificing some cornering grip.

F1 Ballast: Putting on a few pounds

A Formula One car has to weigh no less than 605kg, including the driver and his helmet. But the cars are actually built far lighter than that. Ballast is then used to bring the cars up to the regulation weight. The ballast is placed so that it gives the best possible weight distribution for optimum handling and tyre use. Therefore, the lighter the car can be made, the more the team can vary the car’s weight distribution to suit the track and the driver’s preference.
The lightest of the current cars pre-ballast and without driver – 60–75kg – is believed to be around 410kg. The ballast is normally made from tungsten and is mounted on the lowest point of the car’s underbody in order to keep the centre of gravity down.

F1 Electronics: The car’s brains

Electronics control engine, transmission, and chassis systems. Just as in a modern road car, an ECU (electronic control unit) determines the Formula One engine’s optimum fuel and ignition settings based on thousands of measurements each second taken by dozens of sensors and controlled by thousands of parameters. Electronic radio signals have replaced cables and linkages to give a “drive-by-wire” system similar to those used in modern aircraft. The throttle, for example, has no linkage between the pedal and the fuel supply other than an electronic one. Electronics, in conjunction with a hydraulic system, also control when the car changes gear, based upon what the engine is doing. The differential – the mechanical device that determines how the power is split between the rear wheels – is controlled electro-hydraulically, too. But perhaps the most controversial use of electronics is that for traction control. Based on measurements of wheelspin and engine torque, a computer limits power to the rear wheels in order to make the car faster and easier to control. These are Formula One drivers, you say, and should be able to control traction themselves? You’ve got a good point, and the drivers can do it themselves, but the computer does it better. Charges of this de-humanising the sport are difficult to argue with. The problem has been getting detection techniques sophisticated enough to control the use of traction control. It’s the age-old story of those designing the cars being cleverer than those making the rules.

F1 Built-in safety features

A Formula One car also has built-in safety features. Within the cockpit surround is a padded area designed to protect the driver’s head during an impact. A sixpoint harness, with straps that go around the driver’s shoulders, legs, and groin and meet in a single quick-release mechanism, is also built in. Since 2003 the wearing of the HANS (head and shoulder support) device has been mandatory. The HANS device, shown in Figure 5-5, prevents a driver’s head from being thrown forward or sideways in an impact – a classic cause of neck and spinal injuries in accidents.
To help drivers get out from what is an extremely confined space, the steering wheels are also removable. Before a driver is cleared to drive, he must be able to evacuate the car and then replace the steering wheel (to aid marshals moving the car from a dangerous position) within 10 seconds. Proving that he can do it once isn’t enough. Drivers are regularly asked to perform this manoeuvre to prove that they can.