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Whether you need an engine or a toaster, Andy Beaven, the senior paddock manager, will have it ready for you in minutes.
Whether you need an engine or a toaster, Andy Beaven, the senior paddock manager, will have it ready for you in minutes.

Andy Beaven: 21 years as racing's Mr Fixit

It's Andy Beaven's job as senior paddock manager to make sure that everything the F1 teams need to fine-tune their thoroughbred machines is on hand.

ABU DHABI // When a team needs a welder, they call Andy Beaven.

Not because he can weld, though. As senior paddock manager, he knows exactly what they need, and where to get it.

It is knowledge he has built up over 21 years in motorsport, in both Formula One - he used to work for the Toyota F1 team - and rallying.

For much of that time he was working with Richard Cregan, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management, which runs the Yas circuit. "We worked all the way though from rally in the test and development department," Andy says. "As we progressed, we went though the racing, to Le Mans and then on to F1."

The logistics are fearsome. For Andy, the preparations began in earnest as long ago as March, when he and his team of five allocated pit areas to each of the 12 F1 teams.

Each team specifies its pit requirements, and Andy's crew set about getting the equipment they need.

Not everything can be sourced locally. The expensive gear is flown between races. On Tuesday, five 747 freight planes landed in Abu Dhabi laden with between 13 and 14 tonnes of kit, including engines, gearboxes and spoilers, for each team.

Meanwhile, the cheaper, replaceable equipment - pit walling, tables and chairs - travels by sea. But with the F1 season spanning the globe, the distances are far further than a sea container could travel in the fortnight or so between races.

To cope with this, there are multiple sets - typically three or four. Before the start of the season they were sent out in 20m containers from each team's headquarters at the start of the year, and have spent the past nine months leapfrogging each other around the oceans.

The journey from one race to the next generally takes around six weeks - the sets in use this weekend, for example, were last used in Singapore, two months ago.

With the teams installed, Andy's job is to make sure everything works, and keeps working. "We're here all the time. We have to make sure the internet is switched on and everything is working in the team buildings. We'll make sure, as soon as you get here it's plug and play."

The teams' needs range from coffee machines to dry ice - for cooling - and nitrogen for the tyres.

With the Abu Dhabi race the last of the season, much of the equipment is well worn by time it gets here. "We could be asked to source a welder for something that has broken on the car. We can get anything for them. It's fairly normal they will keep any repairs close to their pit but there is always a chance they'll need something from outside."

In the three days before the trace a sense of calms descends on the paddock area. "Everybody is focused on making the car faster, that's their prime objective. They have everything they need from us."

Already, Andy is thinking about packing up again. He has a little time, though. Not only is this the last race, removing some of the pressure to move on, the teams are staying at the track for another week after the race, to test new tyres.

 

eharnan@thenational.ae

 

For more coverage of the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, go to http://thenational.ae/abudhabigrandprix2010.

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