Working on the technical issues of the electronic engineering of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas cars does not allow any margin for error. In the challenging schedule of the Formula 1 championship, which by 2022 will rise to 23 races from March to November, the mindset must focus on a culture of teamwork.
Every decision made by the nearly 1,500 Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team members affects the results of the season, and Mexican engineer Marcelo Martinelli has been part of the dynamic for seven years.
“There is no margin for error here, it’s the nature of the competition, for the philosophy that is within the team, we are human and sometimes things don’t go as one would plan or would like, but that’s where the team wants. Mercedes has a very strong base or leadership that supports us 100% and that is the key. To create a philosophy or culture where the expectation is that there will be no mistakes.But when they happen, you don’t have to fear the next time you make decisions again, you need to be more conservative so you don’t make mistakes.From Team Leader Toto Wolff to all the other levels in the different areas They have a philosophy of support to create that atmosphere within the team.”
It has always been Marcelo’s goal to be in Formula 1, he graduated as an electronics and communications engineer from Tec de Monterrey in 2002, and before arriving at Mercedes in 2014, he worked in the US at Indycar and Championship. by LeMans . With Marcelo, the team with silver dates won seven constructors’ championships and seven drivers’ championships (out of nine). At the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix, he is reported to have accompanied Hamilton and Bottas on the podium, as the team reached 1-3, with Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) taking second place.
“In my development I had to work with many drivers and many of them had a lot of talent to deal with cars, but to reach the level of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas required more. They did not prepare themselves directly to work in the technical part, which is the responsibility of us engineers. We have to To make sure they can understand it and become a natural part, it’s an extraordinary ability.”
Marcelo states that Formula 1 is the highest level in his profession, and to get there he was tracing the track from Mexico, because he knew the opportunity was not in direct passing and he first had to put himself in scenarios that allowed him to develop certain skills and comply with the demands of work under pressure experienced in Motorsports. In Mexico, he worked for three years in the industrial automation of a production plant, where he made technical changes in the processes.
This requires a very high level of pressure, and there is technically no margin of error. I did it more than anything else to gain confidence that the technical question becomes the easy part of the process, dealing with people and knowing how to get the best of you technical in difficult and high stress conditions, where there will always be something not planned and one has to react. These are the skills that are critical for this type of activity.”
Marcelo’s starting point in the team was in a remote support role with a team of supporting engineers at all races, and three years later they began their journeys to the GP in the field of control systems, and his job is currently in track-level startups “but even in this field there are a lot of The work behind it and the people who influence it.” As a reference at Mercedes, there are three Mexicans: Esteban Gutiérrez and Rafael López, who works on aerodynamics in wind tunnels.
“There are many challenges to getting into F1 as a Mexican, and many of them are simply practical issues such as legal affairs and immigration. Regardless of nationality, it is very difficult to get there and ultimately the people with the right profile are the ones who have the opportunity to show what they can offer.”
Over time, experience and training are gained in the same atmosphere as Mercedes, and continuous learning ability is required.
“It is not the kind of work where you expect it to be taught or how to do something. People who choose all roles in the team must have intuition to know what is required.”
How is your working relationship with Bottas and Hamilton?
“They are very special people, and the ability they have makes them competitive people in all areas of their development. On the technical part, what is so impressive when working with them, which I had to work with Nico Rosberg at the time, is how with the same thirst for efficiency they want Knowing him and claiming the entire technical issue and finding the balance between us to understand their needs as pilots and to be able to translate the technical part in a way that is beneficial to them.”
In his 16th season in Formula 1, with working hours on competition days between 10 and 12 hours and little room for rest, Marcelo mentions his direct boss Evan Short as the key person in the team he learned the most.
Inside the Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City, the talk ends with an explanation about the modifications to the track:
“The biggest thing about racing here is the height, which has many technical ramifications in the engine area and in the aerodynamics, as everything has to do with the aero. The right balance between resources and improvement knowing that the calendar is broad.
- Mexican engineer at Mercedes-AMG Petronas
- 16 seasons of experience in Formula 1.
- 2002. Graduated from TEC de Monterrey as Electronics and Communications Engineer
- 2014. He came to the Mercedes team.
- 2014-2016. He worked with pilot Nico Rosberg.
- 2019. He stood on the podium at the Mexican Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to receive the constructors’ championship trophy.
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