x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Back in the garage it's a race against time for everyone

In the garage, everyone is as busy as the drivers on the track. Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer of Team Lotus, explains what he does on a race day.

During a Formula One race, all of the attention is on the drivers. But everyone is just as busy back in the garage. Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer of Team Lotus, explains what he does on a race day.


The alarm will go off half an hour before we go to the circuit to get the maximum time in bed. By race day you're normally fairly knackered. You've probably just adjusted to the jet lag if it's a fly-away race.


Quick checklist before you go out. First, make sure you've got your pass on because if you haven't you aren't getting in.


Breakfast at the circuit.


We have the first meeting for a 2pm race - a strategy meeting. Meetings start to the second … If someone (is late) twice they are off the team. If you have 15 or 20 engineers, plus drivers … you can't have those blokes sitting around for 10 minutes waiting for someone to turn up.


We will then go off and do another discussion because the one thing about race strategy is that there is theoretical strategy but it's a race. We go through all the backup strategies and what-ifs.


We have a meeting with Pirelli.


We will sit down and do a final strategy meeting, basically going through the first meeting again but with a firmer "we know now this is what we're aiming at".


The drivers then go off to the drivers' parade and rest. As engineers, we are just really getting ready for the race, checking on the cars and everything.

Half an hour to go

The pit lane opens. If it's like here and the weather is good it's great. There are no decisions to be made. Where it gets quite exciting is if it is going to rain or it is spitting with rain. Then you have a lot of decisions to make. Ultimately it will be me who makes them.

Three minutes to go

Tyres have to be on and tightened.

One minute to go

We start the cars and put them down on the ground.

30 seconds to go

Everyone leaves. I'm the last guy to walk off the grid because I am just checking both cars are ready to go.

The first lap

I watch them drive down to the first corner. Very often if you ask me who led into the first corner I don't have a clue because I'm watching (our cars).

During the race

We are constantly updating the strategy. The last three or four races we have had excellent races, you reach the end and are absolutely exhausted, and you look at it and think we're only 16th and 17th, that doesn't look very good, yet actually you have been absolutely flat out racing.

Race finishes

Straight back for a … 40-minute debrief going through every aspect of the race.

Three hours after the end

I get out of the circuit and get on the plane.

* Gillian Duncan

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