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Former pit stop mechanic

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Hi All,

 

I'm new to posting on the forums, but have been "sim" racing for years. I've mainly come here to submit bug reports and get feedback from others with similar issues. Also, probably will nitpick some of the inaccuracies and errors in the game - of which I've found a few.

I think I'm qualified to nit pick though, as I worked as a technician in F1 across four seasons with a couple of teams and also did a brief stint in Formula E. Most of my time in motorsport was as a wheel and tyre technician, so knowing how not only the tyres work and react but how the car interacts with them was my main interests. I also spent a little time working on the bodywork doing some repairs, wing subassembly or vinyl wrapping the parts etc. Highlights of the job were obviously seeing the car on the podium, race pit stops and travelling to some amazing locations. 

If you want to ask a question about working in F1 feel free, otherwise I'll hopefully see you on the track! 

0E240D13-162D-43FB-A2A9-BB3CBF8A4D92_1_201_a.jpeg

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Welcome :classic_smile:. I look forward to reading any insights you choose to share.

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On 8/14/2020 at 3:12 PM, joetoml1n said:

Hi All,

 

I'm new to posting on the forums, but have been "sim" racing for years. I've mainly come here to submit bug reports and get feedback from others with similar issues. Also, probably will nitpick some of the inaccuracies and errors in the game - of which I've found a few.

I think I'm qualified to nit pick though, as I worked as a technician in F1 across four seasons with a couple of teams and also did a brief stint in Formula E. Most of my time in motorsport was as a wheel and tyre technician, so knowing how not only the tyres work and react but how the car interacts with them was my main interests. I also spent a little time working on the bodywork doing some repairs, wing subassembly or vinyl wrapping the parts etc. Highlights of the job were obviously seeing the car on the podium, race pit stops and travelling to some amazing locations. 

If you want to ask a question about working in F1 feel free, otherwise I'll hopefully see you on the track! 

0E240D13-162D-43FB-A2A9-BB3CBF8A4D92_1_201_a.jpeg

Hello! As someone whose dream is to work in F1 one day, it's awesome to find someone who has managed that!

I have, if you don't mind it, a question for you: what path did you take to get to Formula 1? By that I mean graduation, other work experiences, CV submitting, etc. Would be great to already have an idea of what I need to do to fulfill my dream.

Thanks a lot in advance!

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I'm not sure how did I miss the best introduction I've seen here in years! Welcome, and your expertise is definitely appreciated if you decide to help other users 🙂 

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16 hours ago, UP100 said:

I'm not sure how did I miss the best introduction I've seen here in years! Welcome, and your expertise is definitely appreciated if you decide to help other users 🙂 

Absolutely happy to share expertises and experiences. F1 is obviously my passion, so always love sharing stories! 

 

22 hours ago, LuigiPeceguini said:

Hello! As someone whose dream is to work in F1 one day, it's awesome to find someone who has managed that!

I have, if you don't mind it, a question for you: what path did you take to get to Formula 1? By that I mean graduation, other work experiences, CV submitting, etc. Would be great to already have an idea of what I need to do to fulfill my dream.

Thanks a lot in advance!

So I took a slightly different route into F1, compared to how the majority of my time was spent. When I first started in F1, I was one of the trackside IT engineers for Marussia/Manor. A smaller team is the perfect place to start, and in fact most bigger teams wouldn't hire trackside people without experience. Being part of the trackside team though means doing more than just your role. There's the whole garage setup and pack up days for example, and there's never enough people at the track, so especially in a small team with no factory backing, it's all about lending a hand where required. That's what I did for most of my first year. I built good working relationships with people outside my immediate role and when an opportunity arose to be more hands on, I asked if I would be considered for the job, if I applied. The answer was that based on everything they'd seen me do previously, especially the additional stuff above and beyond my role, if I applied the job was mine. So that's pretty much what happened. I spend the next years working with wheels and tyres and never looked back. Being so hands on was important for me, and the extra responsibility was what I lived for. I was the only person responsible for those tyres that go onto my car and my colleague who I work so closely with (except for during P/Q/R when we focus on our own car) does the same for his side fo the garage. All the tyres have to be exact, in terms of weight, balance, blanket wrapping, temp, pressure etc. It's not as easy as in the game when you pick a pressure and that's it. The tyre heating process was a 12h procedure for example and adjusting pressures isn't just straight forward as topping it up or letting it down to your required psi.. Mastering tyres really is a dark art - and that's before the drivers have to try and do the same but on the track! 

So I guess my route in was a little different to most peoples. The majority of mechanics/technician comes through lower formulas. Working and building experience first, some then go to factory based role as well before going trackside. Engineers will no doubt go the more academical route, with degrees in Mechanical or race care engineering. But again, I think most start in junior formulas or as a junior engineer before progressing. 

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On 8/18/2020 at 2:29 PM, LuigiPeceguini said:

I see. Thanks for the advice! One last question (sorry if I'm bothering you): what did you study in university?

I studied computer science, but like I said, my route into becoming an F1 Technician wasn’t the most conventional one! 

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20 minutes ago, joetoml1n said:

I studied computer science, but like I said, my route into becoming an F1 Technician wasn’t the most conventional one! 

Thank you very much!

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Welcome matey. I can't believe that you haven't had more welcomes following your initial post. Old bloke here who doesn't really fit in with the cut and thrust that is F1 2019/2020. I try to keep up....but I'm somewhat lacking. Anyway......more stories please.  😉

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Posted (edited)

I've seen a couple posts from you that really piqued my interest but missed this gem of a introduction!

  1. How much of a team bond you guys had? In football the whole staff usually goes around together in a delegation. Bus rides, flights, hotels. Is it like this in F1 too or it was more of a "just be there on time, seeya"?
  2. All we see in the paddock are mechanics and the odd PR guy. What other roles were a constant in the F1 retinue, if any?
  3. Did you get to keep any overalls or helmets?
    1. How often you bathe yourself wearing said items?
  4. Is there really a correlation between one's body weight and the jackman role on pit stops? Do the strong bois naturally ascend to the spot or is there a nudge from the guy responsible for fixing roles? 

Racing Point's real strength comes from this absolute unit of a ...

Edited by marioho

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, marioho said:

I've seen a couple posts from you that really piqued my interest but missed this gem of a introduction!

  1. How much of a team bond you guys had? In football the whole staff usually goes around together in a delegation. Bus rides, flights, hotels. Is it like this in F1 too or it was more of a "just be there on time, seeya"?
  2. All we see in the paddock are mechanics and the odd PR guy. What other roles were a constant in the F1 retinue, if any?
  3. Did you get to keep any overalls or helmets?
    1. How often you bathe yourself wearing said items?
  4. Is there really a correlation between one's body weight and the jackman role on pit stops? Do the strong bois naturally ascend to the spot or is there a nudge from the guy responsible for fixing roles? 

Racing Point's real strength comes from this absolute unit of a ...

1. It's very close nit in F1. We all travel together. Same coach from the factory to the airport, same flights, same car/mini vans to the circuit, same hotels and we have a room mate who you share with in most hotels (who of course you have to get on very well with!).

 

2. There's around 60 operational personnel in each team, so the few mechanics you see front of house and the PR rep shadowing the drivers are very much the tip of the iceberg! Operation personnel mean anyone involved with the operation of the car, so it includes mechanics, fuel/tyre technicians, race/performance engineers etc. For all the mechanics and technicians, there's usually two of each role (one for each car). Some roles are mainly spent in the back of the garage or the trucks a lot of the time, so would difficult to see on TV - includes Sub Assembly mechs, gearbox/engine mechs, stores person, team (not driver) physio, engineers that don't sit on the pitwall.

 

3. Yeah I've been lucky enough to get lots of memorabilia from my time. I've got my pits stop helmet on display at home, as well as a rear wing on the wall, a wheel for a coffee table and various wheel nuts and other smaller items as smaller trinkets throughout the house. 

 

4. Definitely a correlation, although it doesn't always have to be a larger person.. It does make a lot of sense for a strong/heavy person to be the rear jack man. I've jacked both the front and the rear of the car up lots of times before (in a non race situation though!) and the rear is obviously much heavier. With the extra torque from a long jack handle, it's not impossible for me to jack it, although I couldn't do it with enough speed or consistency for a pit stop. Thats where the benefit of a larger/strong person would come in. The extra weight or force they can put on the jack obviously improves speeds required for pit stops. Also, smaller more agile people are obviously more suited for some of the more dynamic roles. My best position was wheel on (front right for me), although we've all tried various positions many times, in order to find the optimum layout for the team.

 

I'll attach some pics of the decorations mentioned above when I get back home!

Edited by joetoml1n
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As promised, here's just some of the F1 parts I have decorating my house:

My Williams pit stop helmet

IMG_6361.thumb.jpeg.d7c0aeda5d42f3b46243cc1c1adc031f.jpegIMG_6359.thumb.jpeg.6487eee544ef2fbff3ca9c7e88d8054c.jpeg

 

2014 Marussia Rear Wing, driven previously by the late Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton

IMG_6366.thumb.jpeg.b0ce4511b5e011fba3691d2a3cd78ac6.jpeg

 

2015/2016 Rear Wheel, turned into a coffee table

IMG_6363.thumb.jpeg.c2717e659768365095a182e41c95b0a4.jpeg

 

Various wheel nuts

IMG_6369.thumb.jpeg.cdb4c26bd01b9c503ba9ceb07959cad9.jpeg

 

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You cannot simply tease those miniatures and walk away, mate.

And the wheel nuts look way more awesome than I was expecting.

Off topic but whenever I look at Williams gear I think of that masterpiece of ad campaign with Aston Martin and the crew in suits.

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Posted (edited)

Great stuff joetoml1n. The wheel/coffee table is inspired. And the wheel nuts.....they look to have only 3 or 4 threads on them....how on earth do they keep a F1 wheel in place what with all the g forces going through them. Amazing!

Edited by Scrogs
Correct typo/predicted text.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Scrogs said:

Great stuff joetoml1n. The wheel/coffee table is inspired. And the wheel nuts.....they look to have only 3 or 4 threads on them....how on earth do they keep a F1 wheel in place what with all the g forces going through them. Amazing!

Yeah the nuts have 3 turns on them! (the fine thread at the top of this pic is for the wheel nut retainer, which sits the other side of the wheel and keeps the nut captive with the wheel).

IMG_6371.thumb.jpg.b3cafdbce94955078a7dd88ed9f37a05.jpg

The nuts are also handed (and different colours to identify), so a left nut will only fit on the LHS of the car for example. The thread is handed, so on the LHS tighten is clockwise, but on the RHS it's anti-clockwise, this is opposite to the direction of travel of the wheel, so as to not over tighten the wheel when on track! As a result, the stub axel has retaining pins outboard of the nuts, which are depressed by the socket for changing the wheel but spring back up when the socket is removed - preventing the nut from loosening (if everything went to plan in the pit stop!). Some recent models of wheel nuts have castellations, for the retaining pins to sit in, again in theory stopping the nut from moving when on track.

IMG_6373.thumb.jpg.b02397e2ca356a80d96e5040365cfeda.jpg

Edited by joetoml1n
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The last post was pure gold. Thank you. This could be the start of an amazing q and a thread of the insider within F1. More photos/anecdotes please.

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2 hours ago, Scrogs said:

The last post was pure gold. Thank you. This could be the start of an amazing q and a thread of the insider within F1. More photos/anecdotes please.

No problem at all!

I'm up for anyone to ask a Q or two! In fact, if the demand is there I could do an "ask me anything" style thread?

 

Until then, I'll just sit here and wait 😉

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You can surely count me among those interested in an AMA haha

While the thread doesn't come I may even begin my questioning bombardment right now.

Did you play F1 2019? If so, what do you make of the changes in the handling model based on your experience around the real machinery? The main ones that come to mind are the grip levels, specially when cornering, and the ones made to the wheel inertia and engine braking to curb down that "let me downshift like a maniac and even go down to 1st gear often to get extra car rotation around the apex".

Schumacher was famous for his capability of committing to memory the car corner-to-corner behavior over many laps and relay it all accurately to the crew. Barrichello was also notorious for having a fine tuned feeling for the car setup. Any anecdotes to tell? From mesmerizing feedback to drivers not being able to tell corner entry from corner exit, I will eagerly take any. No need to mention names.

Those things you use are simple ear muffs or headsets? If the latter, are you hooked up to a main channel or something like that? How's communication on the noisy trackside?

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36 minutes ago, marioho said:

You can surely count me among those interested in an AMA haha

While the thread doesn't come I may even begin my questioning bombardment right now.

Did you play F1 2019? If so, what do you make of the changes in the handling model based on your experience around the real machinery? The main ones that come to mind are the grip levels, specially when cornering, and the ones made to the wheel inertia and engine braking to curb down that "let me downshift like a maniac and even go down to 1st gear often to get extra car rotation around the apex".

Schumacher was famous for his capability of committing to memory the car corner-to-corner behavior over many laps and relay it all accurately to the crew. Barrichello was also notorious for having a fine tuned feeling for the car setup. Any anecdotes to tell? From mesmerizing feedback to drivers not being able to tell corner entry from corner exit, I will eagerly take any. No need to mention names.

Those things you use are simple ear muffs or headsets? If the latter, are you hooked up to a main channel or something like that? How's communication on the noisy trackside?

Did you play F1 2019? If so, what do you make of the changes.....

Yes I did, I've been playing Codemasters F1 games since the start. I like the F1 games for their career mode despite some of the limitations and issue with it. But I also spend time on Assetto Corse, Project Cars 1/2 and previously rfactor 2, though these days I'm limited to my console gaming. I use a Thrustmaster wheel and pedal set on a F1 Playseat. I'd love to upgrade my hardware, as it's been a bit stagnant for me for a few years, but my little one takes most of my money these days!

As for the handling model, I'm impressed with the changes. Braking especially is a step forward, the potentially shorter distances and better feel and feedback mean it's easier to claw some lap time back. In general the corner entry phase is decent step forward. You mentioned downshifting and that I used to find you could even downshift mid corner, but now that most definitely should be done during braking phase, pre turn in. Too many downshifts, like down to 1st and you said, also seem more realistic with under rotation of the rears and how it feels through the force feedback, so I don't find that a fast technique.

Car setup is better, I think it's much less possible to run extreme setups (in non TT modes), without the penalty of excess tyre wear or tyre temps. In terms of configurables, adding tyre pressure adjustments per corner rather than per axle is better. Although I'm very pedantic when it comes to F1, so still get very annoyed with how non realistic setups tend to be faster than real ones. Also (as tyres were my speciality) a lot of the issues I have are with the tyre model and tyre rules. Examples include tyre pressures not being accurate to real life (minimum pressures changes per track) as well as erroneously being included in Parc Ferme. In real life, we'd often run higher pressures in Q and then drop them for the R. Also the tyre model is extremely basic compared to other games and real life. Devs confirmed that AI drivers have an extremely basic temp and pressure model, which makes a big unfair bias against the player. But more importantly, the player tyre model misses soo many key items. Lock ups seem to only add wear, they don't add a flat spot. Graining doesn't exist in the game. Blistering doesn't either, although you can of course overheat the tyres. Track temp and climatic temps have a much smaller impact. For example we'd often struggle for heat at cold tracks. Early mornings in USA/Mexico come to mind immediately, to the extend we'd try some tricks to keep the heat from the blankets in but still the tyres would be extremely grained (pic below). 

 

Any anecdotes to tell? From mesmerising feedback to drivers not being able to tell corner entry from corner exit...

Yeah without bad mouthing any drivers, you could always tell who was the real deal. Don't get me wrong, even the worst F1 drivers, are still extremely good drivers, they have to be to get to that stage, but some drivers really stand out. In the garage we can hear all our drivers team radio through our headsets (TV plays about 1% of all the radio I reckon!). So you could really tell the difference between a driver who was just focusing on driving and would get lost in the setup and had to be coached on adjustments, compared to drivers who were always thinking and making suggestions. For example, if an engineer suggested a front flap adjust, the best drivers would be thinking about balancing that change with the diff. Also in testing, I've seen drivers being told to do a 5 lap run, with an ideal time of 1.xx. The good drivers would say ok and try to hit that time consistently for 5 laps. The great drivers would enquire as to whether they should push or back off in order to get closest to hit that time, if they should try and beat the time if they can without damaging the tyres, or if thats a 5 lap average time (ie 3 faster laps and 2 slower laps, possibly either alternated fast/slow or getting slower as the tyres degrade). You get the idea, the good drivers would constructively challenge things and provide better feedback.

 

Those things you use are simple ear muffs or headsets?...

They're headsets. They have to be otherwise we'd never hear any instructions! We also have in ear headsets as well as the over ear ones, these would be used under a helmet so mainly on race day. There are many channels. In the garage over the wireless radios we got the following channels: 1. Race (Both drivers and race engineers over one channel - one car from each ear). 2. Pit (So the team manager to the pit crew, this would be where you get the call to pit stop, which tyres etc etc. This would override any other channel as we had to be able to get that call to pit!). 3. Car xx (two of these channels of course, only the mechanics/technicians/engineers on that specfic car - probably the most widely used from my experience). 4. Department specific ones (so for example, I had a tyre channel which just me and my colleague who was the tyre tech on the other car - we could ask each other to do things if one of us was in the garage and one was out the back. Engineers in specific functions also have their own departmental channel).

 

A heavily grained tyre:

IMG_3470.thumb.jpeg.f1f72b6e4c07a132e8763c1265c7f4de.jpeg

I'd love to see a better tyre model so advanced tyre effects are simulated. I guess this is a bit too in-depth and asking too much for the F1 games, which are a mix of sim and arcade..

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Lovely stuff!

I may be way off the mark here but I think the reasoning for the washed out tyre model for the AI is part complexity, part processing power. Maybe the latter to even a greater degree. The game is simulating everything for the 21 AI cars and it takes a toll on the system. I think the same applies for the lack of a lively response to intermediate weather conditions – you either get the normal AI on dry, the arguably overpowered one on a wet track and a poorly performant AI for inter weather as they couldn't bake in a more reactive AI model for those transient conditions.

I say that based on my impressions from David Greco's AMA thread from more than a month ago, so take this with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, hopefully we'll get a more robust simulation with the new generation just around the corner. This one entails a 7 years old hardware, that's kind of mind boggling. 

And I think there's blistering or at least marbled tyres on the game, though admittedly this could be only cosmetic. It's noticeable when you get back to the garage in the Practice and Quali sessions and the crew roll you in. 

Now back to the impromptu interrogation, any practical jokes or initiation rites you fellas used to fool rookies with? Would love to hear about a newcomer blowing into the tyre blankets to pump it up with hot air.

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2 minutes ago, marioho said:

Lovely stuff!

I may be way off the mark here but I think the reasoning for the washed out tyre model for the AI is part complexity, part processing power. Maybe the latter to even a greater degree. The game is simulating everything for the 21 AI cars and it takes a toll on the system. I think the same applies for the lack of a lively response to intermediate weather conditions – you either get the normal AI on dry, the arguably overpowered one on a wet track and a poorly performant AI for inter weather as they couldn't bake in a more reactive AI model for those transient conditions.

I say that based on my impressions from David Greco's AMA thread from more than a month ago, so take this with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, hopefully we'll get a more robust simulation with the new generation just around the corner. This one entails a 7 years old hardware, that's kind of mind boggling. 

And I think there's blistering or at least marbled tyres on the game, though admittedly this could be only cosmetic. It's noticeable when you get back to the garage in the Practice and Quali sessions and the crew roll you in. 

I completely agree that it's most likely due to console limitations. Visually the game is impressive and could be a benchmark for how a current gen game should look - 4K and 60fps on the PS4 Pro. Though it is possible to see where corners were cut to achieve this. However, I do not expect the basic AI models to change on the next gen. At least not on the next game at least, perhaps after next-gen game engines are optimised for the hardware we might, though I expect that to be years away, if at all.

That being said, I also think a "fairly good" tyre model, well physics model in general actually, is the level they're looking for. Obviously they're looking at making the game accessible and shifting lots of units, it's a money making exercise at the end of the day. If they wanted to make a deeper sim, I'm sure they could. It just wouldn't sell as well, as it could alienate more casual gamers.

12 minutes ago, marioho said:

Now back to the impromptu interrogation, any practical jokes or initiation rites you fellas used to fool rookies with? Would love to hear about a newcomer blowing into the tyre blankets to pump it up with hot air.

Oh yes! Thankfully, never subject to one myself though. My personal favourite was actually one my boss and I came up with. We sent a new guy down to the FIA garage with a clear, sealable plastic bag and a digital IR thermometer. He was told to collect the temperature of an air sample, which would be used to calibrate the ambient temperature sensor for the engine on the car. He was opening the bag up as wide as possible and trying to catch air in it! Jo Bauer must have spotted this and had a chuckle, as the next time he was passing our garage he went over to our chief mechanic and in his stern FIA voice, told him he wanted his air back! The whole garage was in hysterics! 

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