That’s why teams spend money on spy photographers to capture close-ups of other cars, and why there are rules limiting techniques and technologies – like 3D camera scans – are actually allowed.
While teams do their best to keep their own designs a secret – which is why you often see mechanics blocking sections of rival team cars on the grid or in garages – there is a weekend game. race where things are more open.
In the parc fermé after the race, cars are kept in an open space before post-event inspections, and there is little that teams can do to keep prying eyes away.
Because while there is a gentleman’s agreement that teams don’t take close-up shots of car spying there, there’s nothing stopping drivers from walking to the cars to take a summit themselves.
Several times Sebastian Vettel has witnessed fine detail checking of a Mercedes, even repeatedly pushing on car parts, and Lewis Hamilton is also known to have a good eye for spotting things.
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari looks at the Pirelli rear tire of Lewis Hamilton’s car, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 in the parc fermé
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
While one might think that any information a pilot gives his team from this point on is of minimal use, in fact there can sometimes be invaluable details that can push a team to work on something. better for his own car.
One of Mercedes’ former engineers has now lifted the veil on the kind of feedback a driver like Hamilton can give – and offered a fascinating example that highlights the world champion’s attention to the smallest detail.
Philipp Brändle worked on Hamilton’s car until the end of 2019 and, in a recent appearance on ServusTV over the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, he was full of praise for the insight Hamilton has shown. often given to the team.
“Lewis is a great spy,” Brändle said: “He watches everything very closely.
“For example, there was once a moment before the podium room where the drivers were having a drink. He noticed that another racing suit had fewer cables. The point is, you can save weight because really every detail counts in Formula 1.
“So he told us the other team had a shorter wire harness and a smaller plug.
“And really everything, how you can save a gram one way or another, matters. He looks at details like that, and that’s what we implemented.
Former F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg said drivers feel responsible for keeping an eye out for anything that interests them about rival cars in these closed-park moments.
“You collect information,” he told ServusTV. “You look at how that is resolved on the car and then you pass that on to your engineers. And of course you hope they can do something with it and make your car faster.”