We find out what’s goes on at a top team’s paddock debrief session
F1 Racing is granted rare access to a paddock meeting of Mercedes engineers, as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are briefed ahead of Friday practice at the Austrian GP
Ron Meadows has been a member of the Brackley-based Formula 1 team since their first incarnation as Bar-honda in 1999. He was team manager through their years under the ownership of Honda, and is now Mercedes F1 sporting director.
Lewis Hamilton’s private room is located directly behind his chair at the briefing desk. Here he is flanked by his two senior race engineers, Riccardo Musconi on his left and Peter ‘Bono’ Bonnington, who is sitting on his right.
This is one of two screens the engineers are looking at (the other is behind our photographer), which display a series of objectives for the two 90-minute Friday practice sessions. These objectives include set-up parameters, tyre evaluation and engine-control work.
Technical director James Allison sits next to chief trackside engineer Simon Cole. Opposite each other at that end of the table are Evan Short, team leader trackside electronic systems (left) and Marcelo Martinelli, trackside control systems engineer (right).
The team communicate via headsets, enabling everyone in the debrief room to hear, while extending the dialogue to factory staff back at base in Brackley. This particular meeting (in the trucks behind the pits) starts at 9am, exactly one hour before FP1.
Valtteri Bottas’s room is behind the second grey door on the lefthand side. In the meeting he sits opposite his team-mate and is flanked by senior race engineers, Marcus Dudley (on his right) and Tony Ross (left) who engineered Rosberg to the world title last year.
This is chief strategist James Vowles. The team will spend part of Friday evaluating aero updates, tyre wear and degradation. The latter will inform their strategic decision for qualifying and the race, which Vowles will have calculated from the data provided.
The meeting is being chaired by trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin. He has prepared the agenda on his laptop and that information is then projected onto the overhead screens inside the debrief room.