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.

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