Formula One management need to wake to the needs of the people working in Formula One. Winter testing gets underway in less than two weeks time at the Barcelona Circuit Du Catalunya and already many families have said goodbye to their husband’s, wife’s and parent’s who have already traveled to Spain to set up the paddock for the arrival of the drivers and senior team management.
Think of Formula One as continuous roadshow. Once the team is on the road they will get very little if any time off between now and the opening race of the season in Melbourne, Australia in March.
For many people outside of the paddock looking in the sport looks glamorous and a wonderful place to work but for many working in the sport it most certainly is not, it is what they do for a living and are doing it to provide for their families. McLaren Honda even cancelled Christmas holidays last year in order to stay on schedule with their new car.
When it comes to their home races, many team personnel won’t get to see their families because although they may get to sleep in their own beds they are gone bright and early in the morning and come home extremely late and night.
In recent years Formula One teams have made cut backs and redundancies which have seen them eliminate their test teams which has but added pressure on their race team personnel who will not only do races but also pre-season and in season testing. This is not sustainable and could lead to burnout among the personnel which is a safety issue when it comes to operating machinery around the pit-lane and the paddock.
Many people who don’t know the ins and outs of the sport don’t realize the work that goes into preparing a team at the circuit where personnel will arrive at the track up to two weeks before the cars to carry out a recki of the facility to see if there have been any unforeseen changes to the venue that they need to take into account when setting up their temporary structures.
The Formula One circus would not be what it is today if it wasn’t for the men and women who work tirelessly to keep the show on the road.
For many of the staff travelling to testing over the coming weeks they will then move on to the opening race of the season in Australia to help with the set up and won’t get back to their home base for a number of weeks as they rack up the air miles some may not see their families until the start of the European season in early May.
The sport needs to do something fast or else teams will suffer a brain drain were they lose talented and important personnel to other industries.