Mental exhaustion, 12 hours of work and prejudice over sexuality: A mechanic’s reveal of the ruthlessness of Formula 1

An unknown mechanic revealed all the problems they are going through (Reuters / Hamad I Mohamed / Paul)

be a part of Formula 1 Participation in the Grand Prix does not mean that everything is rosy. You know very well Mechanics That in recent years it has been physically and mentally damaged due to the increase in dates, which in 2022 will reach an unprecedented number of 23 events on four continents.

Mechanics are the unsung heroes of Maxima. They work hard and know that a car crash in a training or rehabilitation session can cause a sleepless night, depending on the damage to the car. They are must-have machines while racing in pit stops to change tires.

They are the first to reach the circle. On Wednesdays 800 tons Which includes materials and cars for the 20 teams, they will prepare the boxes, prepare the cars and leave everything ready to start the activity on Friday. Once the class is over, their work becomes more difficult because they have to disassemble everything and put the materials away. They retire for the night and hopefully can take one last ride home or ride in the team trucks when racing in Europe.

Journalist Jonathan Noble obtained an anonymous testimony from a mechanic and the material was published in specialized media. motorsports and in motorsports Where he tells us about the harsh reality they live in and how the problem has worsened over the years especially with the triathlons, something that has become popular due to the greater number of dates or the state of 2020 when the calendar, although it was 17 dates, had to be compressed At the beginning of July due to the COVID-19 epidemic. In fact, between the opportunities there were three dates in a row.

Tire change training at Red Bull.  The burden of travel affects the personal lives of mechanics (Reuters/Amanda Perubelli)
Tire change training at Red Bull. The burden of travel affects the personal lives of mechanics (Reuters/Amanda Perubelli)

“As the schedule has been extended and the triplets have become normal, things have reached a point of no return for many of the pit lane workers (the pit lane),” the mechanic said.

“Opening hours are long. From the Wednesday before the race until Sunday evening, They are days of not less than 12 hours. You don’t realize what it costs until you go back to the factory and do a normal eight-hour day’s work, which is almost comically short for you.”

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“In fact, you don’t stop to think about how strange life is with travel until you get home. What makes it especially difficult is that it is relentless, non-stop. You work from the moment you get off the plane, and your flight can be horrible, in economy class with Small space and no sleep at all,” he noted.

The final phase of the season was stressful for them as they traveled from Europe to North America, then to Brazil and then to the Middle East: “After the Mexico-Brazil-Qatar trilogy, economy class flights, time-shifting and races were combined in absolutely odd hours. everyone crashAnd that’s when I saw the people most affected.”

Jobs at mercedes.  Mechanics have the burden of pressing to avoid any mistakes that could cost a good result (Reuters / Ricardo Moraes)
Jobs at mercedes. Mechanics have the burden of pressing to avoid any mistakes that could cost a good result (Reuters / Ricardo Moraes)

“When fatigue comes, so is it Terrible, terrible. When you travel far from your loved ones, you can feel very lonely. Later, when you come home on Monday morning or at night and you haven’t slept well on those days, it affects how you feel in your spare time.” He highlighted the fact that it affected his personal life: “It means that Your relationships may be affectedEither because you have had discussions with your colleagues or because you have other things on your mind, which is not fair to you or them.”

While he admits to a specific situation when someone gets injured: “You are not only tired mentally, you are also tired physically. As the season progresses, there are a lot of injuries. Teams have doctors and physiotherapists to help take care of you, but The easiest solution is to take painkillers to keep moving forward. It is impossible for an ordinary doctor to give you the same thing he gives us to keep working. Those who do not want to take the path of painkillers, They turn to alcoholAnd that’s not good either.

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On how to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, “Teams like to run the calendar based on what’s best for them, not for the rest of the people. Some teams don’t want you to get PCR tests so close to qualifying or racing in case you get quarantined. Instead of However, they would prefer to wait as long as possible to get the test done. And if, for whatever reason, the test result doesn’t arrive, it’s the mechanic who is affected, and they should be away from home for another day for another PCR.”

According to the testimony collected, the mechanic will be part of one of the 16 teams that have their bases in England. “Between the stress of getting test results in time to go home, sticking to the UK quarantine and changing dates on short notice, we’ve had to give up so much of our lives so that the people at the top earn more money without getting anything in return.”

Ferrari box.  Mechanics work at least 12 hours a day on weekends (Reuters/Hamad Ana Mohamed/Paul)
Ferrari box. Mechanics work at least 12 hours a day on weekends (Reuters/Hamad Ana Mohamed/Paul)

Avoiding mistakes over the weekend is key, he emphasized, “This increases stress, pilots and plant staff are 100% confident that you will perform and that you will not make mistakes, but anyone can make them. We are human and I have done a lot in my life“.

Failing to change the tire on time or jamming a nut, as happened with Valtteri Bottas in Monaco, can be one of the most stressful situations possible and affect their business confidence. That’s why the mechanic said, “You start to doubt yourself, it confuses you and makes you make more mistakes because you get stressed, it’s mental fatigue. The stress of this, combined with fatigue from the number of races and triplets, has brought us to a point where the environment in garages can be extremely toxic. “.

But the problems aren’t just about the task itself, according to his statement there are biases about “appearance, sexuality or work status”. He asserted, “I’ve seen many times that something funny has gone out of its way and crossed the boundaries of humor. It can have a negative effect on some in the garage because they have concerns about their appearance, sexuality or work situation. Highlighting these insecurities can lead to depression, and all that goes with it, such as social isolation or an unhealthy lifestyle.”

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And on the tasks, he stressed that “the mechanics have to assemble the car, then go to the gearbox, suspension, etc., Sometimes there is not even half an hour to eatYou feel compelled to eat to get back to work. It makes some of us feel that if a mental issue occurs, and I know the colleagues it has happened to, there is no further support for us, no one will help us.”

Alpha Tauri team members.  The stagnation of mechanics' salaries over the past twenty years (Reuters / Thaer Al-Sudani)
Alpha Tauri team members. The stagnation of mechanics’ salaries over the past twenty years (Reuters / Thaer Al-Sudani)

While he admitted that the response they receive is that “if you don’t like the door is open.” Often times when people talk about the stress and tension of the long Formula 1 schedule, they tell you that “If you don’t like it, you can leave,” some squad leaders even said so. But this situation shows that they are out of touch with the reality of what is needed in F1.

as revealed”Mechanical wages have remained stagnant for the past twenty yearsThe panorama will not change given the $145 million budget limit for teams, a policy that began in 2021. However, this cap does not include salaries for the most important drivers or engineers.

Finally, offer some solutions such as avoiding a “direct flight from Azerbaijan to Canada,” as in 2022. or “Strengthening the staff rotation system to keep the best team members in shape and motivated throughout the season.”

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