We spoke to Lee, a Garage Technician from McLaren, to find out about the challenges – and perks – of traveling around the world with Formula 1.
F1 isn’t all about star drivers and Team Principals. There’s a huge group of people, both at the track and back in the factory, who work tirelessly all year long to ensure the smooth running of the team. From nailing a 2-second pit stop to making sure the car is running optimally, the job of the mechanics and pit crew is hugely important. They also need to put together and dismantle the garages before and after every race weekend and test session.
How long have you been working in F1?
I’ve been working for McLaren for around 7 years now, and for the race team for the last 4 years. Before that I was working at the McLaren brand centre. The job I was doing Before McLaren, I was doing rigging; setting up stages for events such as X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent.
Was 2018 harder from a travel perspective than other years?
This year wasn’t so bad on the traveling front, although nobody was looking forward to the triple header! Everyone was moody in the build up [laughing] but McLaren sorted us out with our own rooms for one of the events to break up the amount of time we spent together and have our own space, which when traveling 21 raced and sharing with someone every event… It really does help!
How do you cope being away from home for so long?
We are away for a long period of time, but we choose our job. Some people complain about the amount of time away but in reality, they love the job or they wouldn’t be doing it! I love traveling, it helps you understand other cultures and makes you appreciate what you have back home. I have a family whom I love and it is difficult as I have a 4-month old, but I do everything for them so they can have everything I didn’t growing up. I hope one day my son grows up and thinks: “Wow, my dad was cool to do that.”
What’s your favourite F1 city and why?
It’s a tough decision between Suzuka and Singapore. But I think Japan just takes it. The people and their welcome is just amazing! I’ve never seen a crowd turn up on Sunday, watch the race and then stay and watch the teams pack up and re-watch the race on the big screens. The track is amazing for cars and running! [laughing]. You can also run home from the circuit. It’s all wins for me.
What are your worst/funniest/best F1 travel stories?
- My worst F1 travel story would have to be getting hit by an actual F1 car! (Lucky me)
- My funniest story would be back in Japan 2017, when it wouldn’t stop raining and with that steep path in the pit lane you could send paper boats down to Mercedes (which we did)
- Best F1 story would be winning the Neymar’s five aside challenge, which came with big trophy and medal. But then I was a footballer.
Best moment of this season?
It would have to be seeing Alonso finishing his career in style with Hamilton and Vettel in Abu Dhabi!