F1 Summer Break 2015
JA on F1 readers get unique inside view of Mercedes F1 factory
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Nov 2012   |  5:28 pm GMT  |  33 comments

Today ten lucky JA on F1 competition winners got the chance to see how the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team designs, builds and modifies its F1 cars on a unique behind the scenes tour of the factory in Brackley.

Standing next to the very chassis in which Nico Rosberg suffered his huge accident in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, they reflected that they were getting closer to the sport than they ever could have dreamed. While in the race bays, they also had a close look at Michael Schumacher’s car and the pit stop equipment which gives Mercedes some of the fastest stops in F1.

And they were given a comprehensive explanation of Schumacher’s steering wheel by Evan, one of the team’s leading electronics experts.

The group was given a tour of the engineers drawing office and were given a 45 minute briefing by veteran race engineer Jock Clear, who has been working with Michael Schumacher for the past season and a half.

They then saw the machine shop and the pattern shop, where the technicians are hard at work on parts for the 2013 challenger which will be raced by Lewis Hamilton. They had a briefing from a composites expert on how to make carbon fibre components like wishbones and nose boxes and went into the non-destructive testing area, where parts from the cars which have just returned from Abu Dhabi were being checked for stress and wear.

The tour, which was laid on by our partners UBS, ended with lunch with Communications Director Bradley Lord, who gave some broader insights into Mercedes in Formula 1.

“It was amazing!” said Alex Manning. “I wasn’t expecting to actually be standing next to the cars from Abu Dhabi and speak to so many staff – the highlight was deinitely the 49 mins with Jock Clear, absolutely fascinating insight into the world of F1. Brilliant experience.”

While Andrew Belson said, “I feel very fortunate to have had such a wonderful insight into a Formula One team. It’s incredible the amount of work and resource that goes into running two cars for a season. The non destructive testing process stood out for me, how they strip down every part of the car, test it then put it all back together between races is just astounding. Also seeing Rosberg’s car complete with Abu Dubai crash damage.”

Paul Cockram said, “All the employees we met were welcoming and keen to talk to us. Listening to Jock Clear was fascinating, he is clearly a very driven sports man just like the drivers he works with.

“The best bit for me was seeing close up on Micheal’s car, just the combination of incredible detail and clean aero dynamic lines. The most surprising bit was looking down on the machine room floor and not seeing a single person because it is all automated.”

* Our thanks to UBS, MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team and especially Rachel Laenen for making it happen

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  1. Moan says:

    Wow that shunt’s straightened the nose out on that car!

    “The very chassis…”? Pull the other one.

    1. James Allen says:

      No! The Rosberg crash chassis was in the race bay.

      The pic is with a show car

  2. Jim Phillips says:

    Wrong place to post this but James are you doing a book this year? Not seen it mention here yet

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, of course! Details will be announced next week

  3. Tristan Bayless says:

    Is that a 2008 Honda with Mercedes livery?

    1. Kay says:

      It has fat front wings and narrow rear wings, must be post-2009.

  4. Andrew Carter says:

    Very jelous, would love to have been there.

    Had to laugh at the pic at the top though, I’m pretty certain thats a Honda RA108 done up in Mercedes colours.

  5. Wayne says:

    Good job, James, to you and all your partners in offering a great experience like this. Even for those of us who were not so lucky, it’s still great seeing F1 fans have these experiences.

  6. Davexxx says:

    James, talking of Rosberg’s chassis – a simple question: in the Abu Dhabi crash it looked like it really suffered, maybe even bent? In such an incident, and given F1 Safety concerns, do they simply ‘bend it back again’ and re-use it? Or install a new chassis?
    - and in that event, what other requirements are there? New crash-tests? FIA penalty?

    1. James Allen says:

      It looks like it won’t be racing again. Only 2 races to go.

      1. James Muscat says:

        All things considered, the chassis was actually in pretty good condition – missing a wing mirror and with some hefty scrapes off the paintwork, but the drivers’ safety cell clearly did its job. No sign of the rest of the car though ;)

  7. Ashboy says:

    Not jealous at all! Honest

  8. Jon G says:

    many thanks for a great day :)

  9. woodframer says:

    May I be first to say, I’m jealous!!!

    1. DonSimón says:

      Me either. I’m just scowling because I had some strong lemon squash.

  10. Jonno says:

    James, did you by any chance video the Jock Clear briefing? It would be fascinating to hear something from an F1 engineer, especially having heard how good his talk was.

    1. James Allen says:

      No cameras allowed inside the factory, sadly

      But it was pure gold from a man who’s been at the coal face for 20 + years

      1. Dutch johnny says:

        Any comments about working with schumi for the first time? because in the past he wasnt that much of a schumi fan and thats putting it mildly… looks like you guys had a great day.

      2. Sebee says:

        It’s amazing where they can fit a camera nowadays. I have a watch that has a camera in it. A spy watch much like one 007 wishes he could have.

        I have a feeling one of the 10 chosen was a McLaren mole. Did Wayne win one of the spots? :-)

        What I learned out of this is that crashes are expensive. Instead of sending the chassis on to US with all the other freight, they have to flip it back to UK and send a new one out to US. Remenmber, F1 chassis fly First Class!

      3. Jonno says:

        Perhaps you can persuade him to repeat the talk for a wider audience.

        Good PR for Mercedes.

    2. Jon G says:

      trust me, it was exceptional and very enlightening!

  11. Halfarsed internet hero says:

    Erm.. S it m, or is tat car not the 2012 duck nosed job??

  12. JB HAM says:

    James since you have no video.. did you record the audio of Jock clear’s presentation. Its like you are teasing us!

  13. alex manning says:

    jock was hilarious- I had to shake his hand as a longtime Villeneuve fan!
    he talked a lot about drivers in general and had some very interesting insights….

  14. Andrew Belson says:

    Jock was extremely interesting, I doubt he would have appreciated us recording his comments!

  15. Bluefroggle says:

    This is the team which Lewis is moving to next season.

    Here is an article of Martin Whitmarsh thinking that Lewis has some regrets about signing up.

    Is this new contract absolutely set in stone with no way back whatsoever? If Lewis said to McLaren, “erm I think I am making a mistake, can I still stay with you”, would McLaren be able to reverse this? Yes they would need a specialist solicitor to revoke Lewis’ contract with Mercedes, but, bottom line, can this be done?


    1. Kay says:

      You’ve already said it: ‘Contract’.

      What is a contract suppose to mean if you can reverse it easily.

      IF McLaren, Hamilton or Mercedes do want to reverse it, they’d have to pay the other party.

    2. ak says:

      All that for the show . Not happening… Lewis should be better off at merc ..I hope he does not get DNFs .

  16. Dave says:

    Hi James,

    Have Jock Clear’s opinions on Schumacher changed since his 2007 interview with you? :p


  17. Panayiotis says:

    James off topic.

    Any views on the whole swearing on the podium warning by the FIA?

  18. Ayusha Suhail says:

    It was a fantastic experience, it really fuelled my ambition to work in F1 someday!!
    (My fellow engineering coursemates are really jealous that we walked away with part of a car! :P )
    Thanks James! :)

  19. (known as) Iberian says:

    Bradley Lord still rocking out there? The man’s a legend, especially to all former RF1 bloggers. ’twas always a pleasure.

  20. Iain:R8 says:


    It looked like a fun day for all involved. I wonder if it would be possible, during the off season, for you to arrange a ‘fans’ tech day in London. This would be a paid ticket event. Covering F1 technology, including aero, chassis, tyres,composites, and engines. It would also be interesting to have a better explanation of the rules, and the various clarifications issued during the season. A large sector of the F1 fan base comes from the engineering sector, and we feel left out. Plenty of meet the driver, sponsor based personality events, but nothing technical. NASCAR and their teams and sponsors seem pretty good at providing technical events for fans.



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