The Abu Dhabi Experience by Patrick Weir.
“Having been picked to be F1 scrutineers, Terry Wilson (AVO Turboworld Asia) and myself were invited to attend the Abu Dhabi F1 event as scrutineers. The following is a brief précis of the time in Abu Dhabi.”
Patrick Weir and Terry Wilson, scrutineers in Abu Dhabi.
Wednesday November 10:
Met up with the Chief Scrutineer and the rest of the crew and received our tickets, T-shirts, tabards and found out what our responsibilities were to be for the weekend. Terry and I were “Pushers”. What it means is that us and three others will be working in the Weighing Station. This is where the Race Cars are checked for weight, height and all the other legal requirements.
The other Scrutineers work in the F1 garages and are responsible for all the safety aspects of the cars and to also write down any changes carried out on the vehicles while in a Parc Ferme situation.
Thursday November 11:
This day was spent just looking around and watching each team in action as they brought their cars to the weighing station to do their own checks independent of the FIA team and scrutineers.
Friday November 12:
There were two practice sessions for the day and things started to get interesting near the end of Session 2. FIA told us they would be bringing in three cars for random checks and for us to get ready to learn the ropes.
The three cars selected were Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and Robert Kubica (Renault). It was very interesting to see Michael Schumacher making mental notes of the Red Bull car as he was getting out of the Mercedes.
All three cars were weighed and then we were instructed in what templates to use and what measurements to check while the cars were on the weighing platform. After weighing, the Vettel car was subject to more stringent series of tests by the FIA guys to test flex and rigidity of the front wing and front body structure.
Saturday November 13:
We had a very comprehensive briefing for the Garage scrutineers, tyre checkers and to us, the weighing station team. The FIA would also select two cars from the seven dropped from qualifying session 1 and another one from session 2.
Qualifying started at 5 p.m. and at the end of session 1, FIA bought in a Lotus and a Toro Rosso and we did weights and measurements on these two cars. At the end of session 2 a Force India was bought in for checking and no problems found in these three cars. From the end of session 1 of this qualifying practice all cars are now considered to be in Parc Ferme. This means no changes are to be made on the vehicles unless approved by the FIA. Some activity such as cleaning, replacing oils and brakes can be checked, etc. Mainly safety items can be addressed but no component changes or adjustments unless approved by FIA.
As session 3 drew to a close the final 10 cars were pulled in. Seven of the cars went through the normal weighing and measuring and the leading three got the ‘Royal’ treatment.
First was Alonso’s Ferrari and the FIA techs went to work trying to pull the car apart. Nose deflection is checked using 2,500 Newton Meters of force and the rear wing got the same treatment. All three got through OK and it amazed Terry and I how strong Carbon Fiber components are.
Sunday November 14:
We had another briefing on the day’s activities and the garage scrutineers went to their respective garages at 12 noon. About 30 minutes before the race one of the lead scrutineers came running up, grabbed me by the arm and said “Can you be a Flag Marshall?” I was given a flag and some instructions and left to it overlooking Christian Klien’s grid. If Christian Klien stalled his car or had some other problem I was to wave the yellow flag. Thankfully the race started OK and the flag was not needed.
After the race ended, we went to work. The first three cars were checked behind closed doors and as well as weighing we then saw FIA do other checks. Each car took about 15-20 minutes.
Being an integral part of F1 is a real eye opener and a great experience. The organization is fantastic as is the technology in the cars and the dedication of the race teams. (Thanks Patrick for the ‘insider’s view’. Dr. Iain)