As the Formula One season draws to a close, the attention of the race team turns to rest, relaxation and possibly a bit of time off in exotic locations. For Max and Alex, today that meant Bradbourne Drive in Milton Keynes, as they came to the factory to shake hands with everyone, sign some memorabilia and take part in the final pieces of filming for the season– which isn’t necessarily as solemn an undertaking as it sounds.
One of the first tasks of the day was a signing session. It may seem incongruous that members of the Team need this to be an organised activity but times have changed since an entire F1 team could fit in a minibus and still have room for a couple of spare engines and a gearbox. These days, there aren’t a huge number of opportunities for anyone working deep in the bowels of the metrology lab or fab shop to hang out with the race team. Everyone likes a memento, so we do this for a couple of hours, with plenty of photos, some industry-grade insults and a lot of laughter. Along with the mini-helmets, t-shirts and copies of Autocourse that get signed, there’s also a few pieces of bodywork. Pretty early on the drivers learn to never ask where it came from – the answer is usually a variation on a theme of ‘it’s the one you put in the wall at Spa’.
After this, there’s some end of season filming. Ours is not the biggest site in Formula One (it certainly isn’t the grandest) but, like the rest of us, over the years it’s undergone a bit of… expansion. To ensure they could make the transfers from department to department in optimum time the boys were handed a pair of Honda CRF50F mini bikes, tricked out in team colours. It wasn’t quite John Bonham at the Chateau Marmont but we had motorbikes roaring through reception… and the race bays… and the machine shop… and the design office. Getting the boys to relinquish the bikes to do a little end-of-season filming and their final 2019 podcast required a solemn pinkie-promise that they could have the keys back afterwards.
The day finished up with the final piece of filming for 2019. Alex and Max spoke about their views on the season just gone – master of understatement, Alex suggested his year had been quite surprising. With that aspiration firmly implanted, the floor cleared, and people heading back to the coalface. The RB16 isn’t going to build itself.