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Is Rotating Staff Going To Disadvantage McLaren?

Is Rotating Staff Going To Disadvantage McLaren?

Ron Dennis has announced that from 2009 onwards, the McLaren team he runs will rotate their race staff around. The reason for changing the personnel present at the grands prix is because of the expanding calendar and the lack of a three-week summer break will not allow his employees enough time away from work to recuperate. Currently, we are on this three-week break and the drivers have probably all taken short holidays to relax and refocus. Likewise, the teams will have enjoyed some time-off as well, but as of next season, it will be regular one/two gaps between races from start to finish.

The obvious advantage of having a three-week break is that everybody gets a chance to relax and enjoy time away from the race tracks and offices. While some testing has happened, it has been relatively low-key, and next season there will be no chance to test. The disadvantage of having a short hiatus is for the fans, who have to wait 19 or so days between the two races. Having the season run through with regular pattern will help with this, although the teams will be pretty tired at the season-end.

To combat this, Ron Dennis will rotate his staff who attend the races to allow each member a chance to take a well deserved rest.

This break is absolutely essential for all the people who travel. They don’t get the right amount of time with their families and this gives them an opportunity to have at least one week where they are not at the office or workshop.

It’s a key ingredient of keeping people motivated and happy when you are addressing the calendar, which makes next year’s difficult for them. We will have to accommodate that by rotating people. They will not be expected to go right through the season. Ron Dennis.

However, while Ron may be going a little soft in his old age (what with all the tea parties as well), is he really doing the best thing for his team? Currently, the race teams remain fairly static with the same faces showing up time and time again. Felipe Massa’s race engineer, Rob Smedley, will be expected to attend every race this year; failure to do so could wreak havoc on the Ferrari team.

Having the same staff at each race obviously means consistency and knowledge. The staff know exactly what they’re doing, are aware of any issues from previous races and the drivers are better for knowing who to speak to about certain things. It isn’t clear if Ron will allow the key staff to rotate, people like the race engineers who are important to the drivers during a race weekend. But needless to say, it will be interesting to see if other teams adopt this strategy, if more staff will be required (which goes against cost-cutting) and if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages during the 2009 season.

Oliver White

6 comments

  • It seems like a good idea given the siutation, but McLaren’s public statements about this rotation policy are just an extended form of Ron crying like a little child about a car ride that’s too long. He made that big-time statement about 18 races a year back at the motorsports forum in Bahrain earlier this season, and this just seems to be an extension of that rhetoric.

    I never really thought the teams cherished the 3-week break so much until this whining started, but if they want it so bad, it could be worked out if Bernie would be more sensable with a few things. There is still room for 21-22 GPs a season- including, yes, the USGP- and a break if they need it. Start the whole show several weeks earlier and make a few better scheduling moves- pair up Bahrain and Abu Dhabi on a flyaway instead of seperating them as they will be in 2009. Then evenryone gose home happy and the sport is all the better off at the end of the day.

  • Although Dennis doesn’t want the calendar to expand – he’d rather keep it at 18 races – I think he’s smart enough to realise it’s not an argument he’s going to win. F1 will probably hit 20 races the year after next and I think we’ll see a slow increase towards around 25 over the following decade – assuming more races continues to equal more money for CVC. Therefore, rotating staff may prove to be a little short-term pain for a long-term gain.

  • I doubt if key staff will get rotated. Race engineers and the guys on the pit wall will be at every race but mechanics and all the behind the scenes people including catering etc will get the occasional race off.

    It seems a sensible idea in principle but I guess we will find out at the end of next season whether McLaren gain from the freshness of their people or Ferrari gain from consistency. I guess whatever the real answer if one of them botches a stop in the last couple of race that other system will be hailed as a fabulous decision.

  • The three week gap is the time between the race days. In actual terms this translates to about 10 days or less at home (given you fly back from a race on a Monday, probably spend at least 1 day back at the race factory before vacation and then have to fly out to the next race 6 days ahead of the race).

    Even with the current calendar of 18 races many people connected with F1 suffer ‘burn-out’ during the latter part of the season. Family life is severely disrupted (remember that F1 consumes weekends, normally a time to be with family).

    What Ron is proposing is a bold step forward to better prepare his team for the 20 race calendar. It’s true that certain ‘critical’ team members would still attend all races but race rotation would allow a refreshed team to tackle the race weekend with obvious advantages.

  • Hi just a bit of common sense here :

    If there are more races then there is more work. If there is more work there must be more people. the cost is not necessarily affected because the cost should be compared to the profit and if there are more races there will be more profit.

    When a company produces more goods the cost is higher but the sales are higher too (else why would you produce more in the first place 😉 Hiring more people is not ONLY an increase in cost it’s also an increase in production and F1 is a business…

    Apart from that rotating people doesn’t need necessarily more people it’s only that you do not send always the same persons, I understand that McLaren employs already 1,000 people….

    As a paradox rotating people might reduce the cost because some people might be paid on overtime, and overtime is always more expensive…

    Last but not least if you want to keep your people you better give them a nice life with holidays and time to spend with their families…

    Could be a very wise move all considered.

  • I’d argue its a good thing, even though the sorts of people in this line of work will probably live and breathe F1 even they will benefit from a break. (Probably boost their enthusiasm even more!).

    Defintatly a good thing, even if its Ron also moaning about any additions to the calender.

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