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Red Bull Racing

Red Bull race engineer explains difficulties of working with different drivers

The driver-engineer relationship is a key aspect of achieving success in Formula 1. Red Bull have given insight into the challenges faced by the race engineer in learning how to work with each driver.

Article
To news overview © Getty Images/Red Bull Contentpool

One of Red Bull's most experienced race engineers has given an insight into the challenges of working with individual drivers.

Simon Rennie - now the team's Group Leader of Simulation Engineering - previously spent several years as a race engineer for the outfit and worked with the likes of Mark Webber, Daniel Ricciardo and more recently Alex Albon. With this role involving working closely with the driver and getting their feedback on the car, Rennie admits it can be difficult to understand what the driver is saying unless a strong bond has been formed.

"Two drivers might be feeling the same thing in the car - but they’ll talk about it in a different way, or use completely different language," Rennie told RedBull.com.

"It takes time to understand what they’re saying, translate that into engineering terminology we can all understand and work with – because it’s very possible initially they’ll be describing the driving experience using descriptive words only they understand.

"Comprehending what they’re really saying is half the battle. The other half is understanding what they need from the balance of the car to make them go as fast as possible."

This was something that Red Bull's Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin - also known as Rocky - came to understand when working as a race engineer for David Coulthard and then Sebastian Vettel.

"The task is the same but the approach is massively different," Rocquelin explained. "I was David’s race engineer when I first came to the team. He had massive experience, so there were a lot of things that I didn’t need to deal with.

"Things like interactions with other drivers, the media, the FIA. David had 14 years in F1 so he knew it inside-out. He was very specific on what he wanted, in terms of setting up the driver interface.

"I wouldn’t call it a one-way conversation, but it was a job that revolved around ensuring he got what he wanted from the car.

"After David retired, Sebastian took over the seat, and that was a much more open-ended job. He was very young when he joined us, so there was a lot of things in F1 that were still new to him. Interaction with the media and the FIA etc.

"I had to step-up a bit and take more of a role, and give him some pointers, which was of course, never the case with David."

As for Rennie, his time spent working as race engineer to Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus in 2012 resulted in the famous "Leave me alone, I know what I'm doing" radio exchange.

On whether Raikkonen did know what he was doing, Rennie joked: "Yes... but he could have been doing it a bit more."

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