Exclusive: Insight into working in F1 - Part 2

Exclusive: Insight into working in F1 - Part 2

30 October 2013 – What is it really like to work in F1? Here, GPUpdate.net goes behind-the-scenes to find out with help from the Caterham F1 team and in part two, we catch up with Juan Pablo Ramirez, Race Engineer for Giedo van der Garde...

Who:
Juan Pablo Ramirez

Job title:
Race Engineer

What does your job involve exactly?
I am responsible for Giedo’s car from a technical point of view. I am the leader of the engineering group working specifically with him - we have an engine engineer, we have a parts engineer and we have a performance engineer and so on. So, I manage the people on his side of the garage and take an overview of all the work that is going on. I am basically the link between him and the rest of the team for technical aspects about his car. Of course set-up is one of my responsibilities and we have people working specifically on items around this. Also I do the planning of the sessions and work out what we are going to do on track, plus I talk to him during the race. There is quite a big group of engineering support around too, not only specifically for Giedo, but also in terms of race strategy. It is quite an integrated job.

What do you say to Giedo over the radio in the races? Are there ever any disagreements?
We don’t really have intense radio communications. We try and keep it [talking over the radio] to the minimum. We try to provide information he needs to know but not be too excessive. He is relatively polite with his comments and is easy to communicate with. There haven’t been any issues. Obviously there have been cases when he is fighting with his team-mate [Charles Pic] and things get a bit heated up. But it is not really a problem. He has always reacted well in those situations.

What is your influence on the on-track performance of the team?
One of the biggest influences a race engineer can have is in qualifying. You help determine when the driver goes out and you look for gaps – that is very important. It is probably the session where you can have the biggest effect, really the driver is in your hands. You release him and you discuss the strategy.

You also set the direction of the car in terms of set-up. Obviously the driver has very strong input – he is the one giving all the feedback. But, at the end of the day, I am the one that needs to find the technical solutions for the problems we are having, be it oversteer or handling issues with the tyres or the aerodynamic set-up of the car – all these things. We have a very big group of people analysing all these different aspects and I am the one trying to extract all that information and apply it to Giedo’s car. 

How did you get involved in F1?
It was approximately 13 years ago that I went to England to do a Masters degree in Automotive Engineering with the aim of going into motorsport. That has been my interest since I was a teenager. I was quite fortunate because after finishing my degree I was able to join a small F1 team at the end of 2000 - Arrows. I started as a junior aerodynamicist and eventually moved up to become a test and performance engineer. I stayed there a couple of years and then did seven years with Toyota on the F1 project. When Toyota stopped that I moved here and this is my fourth year with the team.

What makes Caterham different from the other teams?
Obviously Caterham is one of the smaller teams, very similar to Arrows in a way. In fact we are now based in the same factory. It is the same type of philosophy. There is more flexibility in terms of doing things. Toyota was very different. It was a large team and was very corporate orientated with a lot of resources. There was good support in all areas and there were a lot of experienced people covering all the different positions. In a small team you cannot afford this. But small teams do give the opportunity for young people to get started. It is the same with the drivers. They normally start in the smaller teams and it is a similar situation with engineers. Also it is more challenging in a way being in a smaller team. You have less people doing the same job and you have to learn a lot - that is very important and was what happened when I was at Arrows.

Why did you join Caterham?
I wanted to stay in F1 and the opportunity came basically because there were three new teams joining the sport [in 2010]. It was pretty much straightforward to go to one of them. It was quite an interesting challenge to go to a completely new team. But also it was quite tough because there was a lot of work involved that in a big established team you more or less take for granted.

What would be a good end to the 2013 F1 season for Caterham?
If we manage to recover and take tenth place in the Constructors’ Championship – that is our most important goal. Also we need to put in a consistent performance and be in front of Marussia all of the time. Furthermore we need to maximise opportunities like we had at Spa in Belgium [during qualifying when Giedo made it through to Q2 and qualified in P14].

What’s your relationship like with both drivers?
They are a good pair of drivers. They are quite friendly. Giedo is very easy going and I obviously work with him a lot. He is a positive guy and is always in a very good mood. That helps with the working relationship. I know he is an experienced race driver in the sense that he has spent all of his life, all of his career, in the lower formulas. He understands all the various technical aspects of the race car. That’s important.

Do you think he has got what it takes to succeed in F1?
I do think so, yes. Today it is very difficult to get into F1. It is not just about talent. The way the whole sport is going it requires a huge amount of money from everybody. You get all this criticism for paid drivers and so on. But it has been like that all the time basically. It is just that now because the costs are so high and because the economics are poor you have to rely more and more on people like that. But I think to give Giedo his respects, although he brings funding, he has done his years in the lower formulas. He has shown, if you allow for growth in the team, and understanding of a F1 car, he can deliver good results.

What advice would you have for people who want to work as an engineer in F1?
My advice would be to get the best preparation possible in terms of an engineering education. It is a lot like any other activity in life too, you need to have a high level of motivation. You need to be prepared to make sacrifices and to dedicate a lot of time. One way is to get an engineering education - to degree or post-degree level - and then try and make your way in or you can start like most drivers do in the lower formulas, F3, GP3 or GP2, and try and work your way up to F1. That is a good option as it gives you experience. That is the other important point, to get as much experience as you can as early as possible, even when you are still studying. Getting experience of racing at various levels is very valuable.

Part 1 of our insight, with Head of Communications Tom Webb, is available here
Juan Pablo Ramirez was talking to GPUpdate.net's Erwin Jaeggi
Twitter: @MyCaterhamF1, @Jaeggi

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Saturday 28 May 2016

  2. Video of the Day: McLaren's 50 years in F1 05:27

    Video of the Day: McLaren's 50 years in F1

    McLaren celebrates its 50 years in F1 with a special film, presented by team partner Richard Mille.

    F1
  3. Friday 27 May 2016

  4. Giovinazzi penalised, Matsushita gets pole 17:22

    Giovinazzi penalised, Matsushita gets pole

    Nobuharu Matsushita will start GP2's Sprint Race from pole position on Saturday following a penalty for Prema's Antonio…

    GP2
  5. 16:34

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  6. Video: Ferrari's Monaco technical guide 15:32

    Video: Ferrari's Monaco technical guide

    Ferrari Technical Director James Allison talks about the demands of the Monte-Carlo street circuit.

    F1
  7. Kvyat feeling 'better and better' in STR11 13:06

    Kvyat feeling 'better and better' in STR11

    Daniil Kvyat says that his feeling at the wheel of Toro Rosso's STR11 is getting "better and better" on a lap-by-lap basis as he…

    F1
  8. Markelov takes maiden win in GP2 thriller 11:46

    Markelov takes maiden win in GP2 thriller

    Artem Markelov surged from 15th on the grid and profited from a litany of Virtual Safety Car (VSC) periods to provisionally…

    GP2
  9. Haryanto misses long runs due to crash 11:22

    Haryanto misses long runs due to crash

    Manor driver Rio Haryanto was left to rue the lack of any meaningful long runs during practice for the Monaco Grand Prix, after…

    F1
  10. Video: Sauber drivers on Monaco GP 10:03

    Video: Sauber drivers on Monaco GP

    Sauber drivers Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson talk about the challenges of the Monaco Grand Prix.

    F1
  11. Sauber expects to resolve issues 'shortly' 09:24

    Sauber expects to resolve issues 'shortly'

    Sauber team boss Monisha Kaltenborn has expressed confidence that Sauber will resolve its financial issues in the near future…

    F1
  12. Baz confirmed to miss Catalan Grand Prix 08:12

    Baz confirmed to miss Catalan Grand Prix

    Avintia rider Loris Baz will miss next weekend's MotoGP round at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as a result of the injuries…

    MotoGP
  13. Pirelli pleased with full Ultra Soft debut 07:42

    Pirelli pleased with full Ultra Soft debut

    Pirelli hailed a positive start with its new Ultra Soft tyre compound as the purple-marked rubber made its race weekend debut on…

    F1
  14. Gasly to start from pits after penalty 07:28

    Gasly to start from pits after penalty

    GP2 Series leader Pierre Gasly must start today's Monaco Feature Race from the pit lane after failing to stop at the weighbridge…

    GP2
  15. Video of the Day: FI drawing challenge 05:12

    Video of the Day: FI drawing challenge

    Force India drivers Sergio Pérez and Nico Hülkenberg take part in a special Monaco drawing challenge.

    F1
  16. Thursday 26 May 2016

  17. 19:02

    Latest F1 photos: Thursday in Monaco

    F1
  18. Button 'lucky' in drain cover incident 18:53

    Button 'lucky' in drain cover incident

    Jenson Button says he felt "lucky" to escape unharmed after his car struck a drain cover during first practice for the Monaco…

    F1
  19. Rosberg expecting 'very close' battle 16:24

    Rosberg expecting 'very close' battle

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg is expecting a "very close" fight with Red Bull at the Monaco Grand Prix, given the times posted in…

    F1
  20. Sirotkin flies to GP2 pole in Monaco 16:19

    Sirotkin flies to GP2 pole in Monaco

    ART driver Sergey Sirotkin secured pole position for ART Grand Prix during GP2's qualifying session after a stunning final lap…

    GP2
  21. Vettel: Ferrari better than practice display 15:34

    Vettel: Ferrari better than practice display

    Sebastian Vettel is adamant that Ferrari has a competitive car at the Monaco Grand Prix, despite a low key start to the…

    F1
  22. Ricciardo 'in a good window' after first day 15:07

    Ricciardo 'in a good window' after first day

    Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo says he is in "a pretty good window" after topping the first day of practice for the Monaco…

    F1
  23. 14:34

    Monaco Grand Prix: Full Practice 2 results

    F1
  24. Ricciardo puts Red Bull on top in FP2 14:32

    Ricciardo puts Red Bull on top in FP2

    Daniel Ricciardo put Red Bull at the top of the timesheets during Thursday afternoon's second free practice session for the…

    F1
  25. 12:52

    Follow second practice for the Monaco GP!

    F1
  26. 10:37

    Monaco Grand Prix: Full Practice 1 results

    F1
  27. Hamilton edges out Rosberg in FP1 10:35

    Hamilton edges out Rosberg in FP1

    Lewis Hamilton edged out Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg during Thursday morning's first practice session for the Monaco Grand…

    F1
  28. Bianchi family sue over 'avoidable' death 10:23

    Bianchi family sue over 'avoidable' death

    Jules Bianchi's family has announced that it will be taking legal action in the UK against the FIA, the Formula One Group and…

    F1
  29. Pirelli announces Germany compounds 08:58

    Pirelli announces Germany compounds

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has announced its compound selections for the German Grand Prix, with the red-marked Super Soft…

    F1
  30. 08:52

    Follow first practice for the Monaco GP!

    F1
  31. Wehrlein downplays 2017 Mercedes chance 08:36

    Wehrlein downplays 2017 Mercedes chance

    Pascal Wehrlein has insisted that he is not thinking about a Mercedes seat in 2017, despite Nico Rosberg being out of contact at…

    F1
  32. GP2 confirms Monaco qualifying groups 08:02

    GP2 confirms Monaco qualifying groups

    GP2 Series organisers have confirmed the qualifying groups for this weekend's second round of the season in Monaco. Under GP2…

    GP2
  33. Video of the Day: Räikkönen looks to Monaco 05:08

    Video of the Day: Räikkönen looks to Monaco

    Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen discusses the challenges of the Monaco Grand Prix ahead of this weekend's event.

    F1
  34. Wednesday 25 May 2016

  35. 18:04

    Latest F1 photos: Wednesday in Monaco

    F1
  36. Bianchi family unveils foundation for youngsters 18:03

    Bianchi family unveils foundation for youngsters

    The family of Jules Bianchi have unveiled a foundation created in his name, the Jules Bianchi Society, in order to support young…

    F1
  37. Hamilton: Crash reaction reflects maturity 16:26

    Hamilton: Crash reaction reflects maturity

    Lewis Hamilton believes that the way both he and Nico Rosberg reacted to their collision at the Spanish Grand Prix reflects the…

    F1
  38. Bottas hopes to end Monaco drought 14:39

    Bottas hopes to end Monaco drought

    Valtteri Bottas is confident that Williams can implement the lessons learned across the past few seasons as he chases his first…

    F1
  39. Ricciardo, Magnussen get Renault upgrades 14:04

    Ricciardo, Magnussen get Renault upgrades

    Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen will receive upgraded Renault engines this weekend, after the B-spec power unit was sampled…

    F1
  40. Ericsson: Monaco best Sauber chance so far 13:30

    Ericsson: Monaco best Sauber chance so far

    Marcus Ericsson believes this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix provides Sauber with its best opportunity of a top 10 finish so far in…

    F1
  41. Pérez: Tyre degradation hurting race pace 11:56

    Pérez: Tyre degradation hurting race pace

    Sergio Pérez believes tyre degradation is the reason why Force India cannot currently match the likes of rivals Toro Rosso and…

    F1
  42. Rabat has successful shoulder surgery 10:46

    Rabat has successful shoulder surgery

    Marc VDS has confirmed that MotoGP rookie Tito Rabat has started rehabilitation process following his crash at last weekend's…

    MotoGP
  43. Canamasas keeps Carlin seat for Monaco 10:18

    Canamasas keeps Carlin seat for Monaco

    Sergio Canamasas will once again compete for Carlin at the second round of the GP2 Series in Monaco, as championship organisers…

    GP2
  44. London ePrix set for season three change 10:09

    London ePrix set for season three change

    This season's Formula E finale around Battersea Park in London has been given the green light, though the championship will need…

    FE
more news