• Joined Benetton's test team in 1990
  • Has worked for Enstone-based teams in every incarnation: Benetton, Renault F1 Team, and Lotus F1 Team
  • First race: 1992 Hungarian Grand Prix

Day-to-day


It's weird to say, but really when I come to a circuit I'm not actually taking part in that event - I'm looking forward to other events. Hopefully, by the time we get to the track most things have been sorted, so I'm only there as a back-up if there are any problems. Obviously, making sure that the team works properly is my responsibility. So is making sure pit stops are good - that's my responsibility at a race.

But as far as everything else goes, I've got guys that do it for me. I have my chief mechanic, my spares guy, and the engineering coordinator. They look after the build of the cars, get that done. Then there's Alan [Permane], our trackside operations director, who looks after the running of the team, the sporting side and the engineering side, and Geoff [Simmonds], who is my race team coordinator. He deals with the circuits and things like that. While that's going on I'm looking at paying bills or organising for upcoming events: travel queries, personnel queries, logistical queries... That's the sort of thing that I'm looking at.

At the moment I'm going through our budgets for next year, for instance. Within the next two weeks, I have to have all the budgets in place for next year. Then in the next couple of months we're going to be looking at booking flights, hotels, and also at any improvements we want to do to the team. Whether it's equipment, the look of the team, even down to team kit. I'll have input on that and on how to improve the team, to see if there're ways we can look after the guys better, or anything really. It's sort of keeping an overall view, and keeping things in line with the way the company wants to operate.

As far as trackside goes, I mean obviously, I've got Alan who's head of trackside, if you like. I look after the race team side, and he looks after the engineering side. So, if there's something he doesn't like about the race team, then I'll fix it. If there's something I don't like, then I'll fix it, or we'll try and improve it in any way that we can. It's looking at what we do, how we operate. If there's an advantage if we do something differently, if we can get an advantage over other teams, for instance.

With pit stops, for example, we look at equipment and the way we actually carry one out. There's all sorts of things: Is the garage working efficiently? Do we have everything in the right place? Do we have the right equipment? If we had other equipment, would that make our garage run more efficiently? You're constantly looking at everything from garage layouts to the food we give our people, their well-being.

When I started this job I started looking at what people did and how to keep people well so they can work. I looked at the nutrition. I started to get advice from people - physios, and so on. What we needed to do. How we need to keep people hydrated. Just to try and keep the same people working for us, you know? And how to keep them well while doing it. I looked at what they wear, what they eat, what they drink, how they exercise, all that sort of thing, just to try and keep people in the garage.

It doesn't stop; we look from race to race. So, we'll go to Monaco (or wherever) and we'll look at that race afterwards and go "Did that go well? What would we change for next year? Is everything fine? Are the hotels fine? The circuit? The way we did the circuit? Is that fine?", "Yes, okay, fine ... we'll go again". "No. Okay, well how do we change it?" It's as we go.

Good practice can change. What's good practice one year may not be the next year, just because of the way the car's built, or run, or rule changes, or whatever. So the job involves a lot of interpretation and forethought.
Track running


I do pit stops during sessions, but I'm on the wall as well. I'm there as a bit of a mediator; I have a specific job and that's really to inform the pit what we're going to do. We've found that one voice is better than a lot of voices. Before I started we used to have the engineers telling the pit crew what to do. But obviously, if we have a safety car, for instance, both cars want to come in. So both engineers are going to put their point across to the pit crew. Now we just have one voice, and that's my voice, and I tell them what to do. It's clear, it's streamlined. They know what's going on.

Because I'm only busy round about the pit stop period, I've got a good overview of what's happening. So I can point out things that are happening on the track that somebody may not see. I'm normally the first person to see yellow flags, so I'll let the engineers know. They're either looking at data or they're looking at strategy. That's what they're concentrating on, and I'm just there keeping them up to date with what's going on with everyone else.
Set-up and strike down

Normally, I try and get back to the factory on a Sunday night, because I'll be in first thing on Monday morning, just doing day-to-day running of the team. I used to stay around for pack-up, but now I've stepped back a bit from that. I can trust my guys. I know that they're going to put the garage up as I want it. I know they're going to pack it down and send it on as I want it. I've got a good team there, so I'm quite happy.

As I say, we've got a fantastic team. I'm really happy with our team. So as long as there are no problems, then it's fine - I don't have a lot to do. But if there are problems, then I'm there to help. That's the way I look at it: I'm here to help.

Paul Seaby was talking to Kate Walker.