Class of 2013 – Who are the F1 Race Engineers?

Posted on Posted in Understanding the motorsport industry

Formula 1 drivers have the risk taking, jet setting lifestyle of the rich and famous. The F1 media follow their every move but senior members of their teams are also becoming famous (and quite possibly rich) in their own right. In this post I take an alternative look at the 2013 grid by profiling each of the F1 driver’s race engineers. Over the next few days I’ll work through the grid taking you through their profile, career history and how they made it to one of the most envied jobs in motor racing.

Jock Clear with Nico Rosberg
Jock Clear with Nico Rosberg

The race engineer is the racing driver’s right hand man and about as close as you can get to being a Formula 1 driver without a steering wheel in your hands. Television pictures and pit to car radio transmissions have made the faces and voices of the F1 race engineers more and more familiar but who are they and how did they find themselves on the speed dial lists of the best racing drivers in the world?

MARUSSIA

Paul Davison

Race Engineer for car 22 – MAX CHILTON

Nationality : BRITISH

Paul will this year team up with Max Chilton having worked with Charles Pic in 2012 in his first year as a full race engineer. Paul has spent 3 full seasons with the Marussia race team having previously been one of their Performance/Data Engineers.

Prior to Formula 1 Paul gained valuable experience of track engineering with the Piquet Sports GP2 team spending almost 3 years with that squad. He has worked with drivers such as Nelson Piquet Jnr. and Pastor Maldonado.

Paul has a strong academic background with a PhD in aircraft control and dynamics having graduated from the University of Bristol in 2000 with a 1st class honours in Avionic Systems Engineering.

Michael Harre

Race Engineer for car 21 – JULES BIANCHI

Nationality : SOUTH AFRICAN

Michael has had a bit of a difficult start to the 2013 season as he is already on his second race driver of the year and we haven’t yet even had the first race. Luiz Razia was confirmed as a Marussia race driver on February 6th but sponsorship issues forced the team to terminate his contract and he was soon replaced by Jules Bianchi.

Michael has been with the team since it began in Formula 1 as Virgin in 2010. His father Bruce was a former mechanic in Formula 1 for the McLaren team when it was run by Bruce McLaren so racing has long been in his family.

CATERHAM

Juan Pablo Ramirez

Race Engineer for car 20 – GIEDO VAN DER GARDE

Nationality : MEXICAN

Juan Pablo was previously race engineer for Heikki Kovalainen in 2011 & 2012 and has stayed on in the role to look after Caterham GP2 graduate Giedo van der Garde.

Juan Pablo Ramirez with Heikki Kovalainen courtesy of motorsport.com
Juan Pablo Ramirez with Heikki Kovalainen
courtesy of motorsport.com

Prior to Caterham, Juan was the race engineer for Timo Glock at Toyota being promoted from their test team in 2009 following the sudden departure of Francesco Nenci. Juan also had a brief spell as Kamui Kobayashi’s engineer for the final races of 2009 before leaving for Caterham.

Tim Wright

Tim studying data at an Aero test at Duxford airfield, UK
Tim studying data at an Aero test at Duxford airfield, UK

Race Engineer for car 19 – CHARLES PIC

Nationality : BRITISH

Tim first graduated to be a race engineer with Caterham in July 2012 so is relatively new to the role but has a huge experience of track engineering behind him. He has been a Performance Engineer with both Caterham and Toyota in Formula 1 but has also worked in the F3000, GP2 and A1GP catergories.

Prior to working at the track, Tim gained expertise in data processing and telemetry by working for Pi Research (now part of the Cosworth group) in Cambridgeshire who produce hardware and software for a wide range of racing applications. He worked for Pi both after graduation and spent a year there on work placement in the middle of his degree in Automotive Engineering at Loughborough University.

TORRO ROSSO

Marco Matassa

Race Engineer for car 18 – DANIEL RICCIARDO

Nationality : ITALIAN

Marco is another race engineer quite new to the role but has very good experience in both F1 and with driver Daniel Ricciardo having been his data engineer and finally race engineering him for the last 2 races of 2012.

Marco has previously worked for Red Bull and studied engineering at Università of Modena and Reggio Emilia near to where he grew up. This area has a rich history of motor racing, being close to the home of the Scuderia Ferrari.

Phil Charles

Race Engineer for car 18 – JEAN-ERIC VERGNE

Nationality : BRITISH

Phil Charles has a family involvement in motorsport, as he and his wife Hannah own an indoor karting facility in Banbury. Phil was himself a very keen and capable karter from age 8, becoming the youngest
senior British kart champion when he was just 16 yrs old.

Phil previous worked as a race engineer at Renault F1, with drivers such as Giancarlo Fisichella, Nelson Piquet Jnr and Romain Grosjean. Phil left the F1 scene for a while to help setup the karting business but has now returned in 2013 to be race engineer at Torro Rosso.

Keep in touch
To continue this look at the 2013 crop of Formula 1 engineers, I’ll slowly make my way further up the grid. In the next post we’ll meet the race engineers at Williams and Force India and Sauber.

Keep checking my blog for the next part of this series or you can follow me via my home page and receive email updates for every new post. Alternativley you can follow me on Twitter @Work_in_F1.

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