What’s this?!

We’ve acquired a brand new toy to play with and as a result we took it for a little tour to visit the workshop and cars. The result is below.

Can you guess what any of these are?!

Send your answers to media@carlin.co.uk and whoever gets the most correct by the end of the week will win themselves a nice little goody bag in the New Year!

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The big pack-up

That’s that then. The freight has been packed, loaded, logged and is now making the long journey to Macau where it will wait for us when we arrive next week for the prestigious Macau Grand Prix.

It all started just over a week ago when the Formula Three team got back from Snetterton and Silverstone and began the big job of loading the boxes with everything they will need while they are halfway around the world – including a whopping six Formula Three cars and everything you could possibly think of that goes along with it.

First up the mechanics begin the work on their cars. New liveries are designed and applied and the cars are checked over, set up and made race ready back at base.

At the same time the first batch of boxes need to be packed – and in these go items such as cleaning products and liquids used inside the cars.

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The first boxes to be pack ready to leave

These obviously all need to be categorised and are sent out earlier than the rest of the freight.

In with this you’ll find;
20 bottles of clutch fluid
24 bottles of brake fluid
There are also numerous bottles of fantastic (and very regularly used!) AutoGlym products which we use to clean and look after our cars – ranging from insect remover, to polish to show shine.

While this is all going on downstairs upstairs there’s a slightly different type of cargo which is being collated; the snacks. You can never tell how long you’re going to be at a circuit so to make sure that everyone gets food if it is a late one, we pack an awful lot of home comforts.

The sweet supply

The sweet supply

As you can see we have the sweets covered.

But there are also boxes and boxes of crisps. As well as that quick and easy meal for one… Pot Noodle.

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On this crate you’ll also find a grand total of 144 litres of bottled water as well as 200 coffee cups and 200 plastic cups. Always nice to be prepared. We also spotted somewhere 14 bottles of cordial. But we couldn’t even begin to tell you which box they were loaded in.

Moving just a couple of freight boxes along to the corridor and you stumble across a grand total of 67 front wheel rims and 67 rear wheel rims all neatly packed away.

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And what of the cars? While all of the above has been painstakingly packed in to every spare inch of space available, the mechanics and engineers have been working to get the cars ready. But the cars can’t just roll on to a truck like they would do each race. The cars, are taken apart, with a lot of the body work comes off and parts are safely wrapped and labelled.

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Up next it’s time for the cars themselves.

To make sure that they are protected on their long journey the cars are literally boxed up.

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This then gives them a frame work for their ‘coats’ to go over before they are loaded into a truck ready to make their way to the airport.

Meanwhile, the other boxes which will be carrying spares, tools, tables, chairs, radios and of course a hoover were already packed and loaded on to a separate lorry.

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Everything then took to the road for the short journey to Heathrow airport where they patiently awaited the flight to Hong Kong.

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We’ll meet up with everything next week when we also make our way to Macau for our final race event of the season.

We’ll see you there!

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Looking beyond the F1 paddock

Internet search engines will have been busy this morning, as the motor racing world woke up to the news that 19 year-old Russian Driver Daniil Kvyat had been promoted to Toro Rosso’s second F1 seat for the 2014 season.  There will be more than are brave enough to admit that they weren’t quite sure who this teenager is who will partner Jean-Eric Vergne next year.

It was a bit of an unexpected announcement from Red Bull and Toro Rosso last night and we’re not going to get into the politics as to why it wasn’t the widely tipped Antonio Felix da Costa that didn’t get the Toro Rosso drive.  There will have been long and multi-faceted discussions as to who should be promoted and no one outside Red Bull should be a judge of that.  And besides, we think Antonio is fab.

One factor that has added to the element of surprise though, is that not many people know exactly who Daniil Kvyat is.  Well he’s a Red Bull Junior driver.  And it’s probably fair to say that if you’re a Red Bull Junior driver, you’ve got a better chance than most of reaching the top level of the sport.   So not quite such a surprise when you see it in that context.

In addition to Kvyat’s good fortune in having a well-placed sponsor, we also shouldn’t be surprised that his potential has been recognised when he has achieved so much in the junior categories.  Maybe the issue is that a lot of people don’t see below F1 and the drivers that are moving their way up the ladder.

The strap line on our website reads, “Tomorrow’s F1 stars, today” and that’s not by accident.  They really are.  And yes, we have a vested interest in this argument as a junior racing team but we’re not just talking about our drivers.  There are a handful of drivers in each junior category, racing for various teams that are capable right now of racing in Formula 1.  That’s not to belittle what it takes to drive in Formula 1.  That’s highlighting how good these junior drivers are.  And some will make it and some will not.  The money might run out for some.  The opportunity might just pass others by; the stars may not align quite at the right time.  But they will still be capable of making the step up.  For those that don’t make it, F1 isn’t the be all and end all; they will go on to be fantastic drivers in DTM, IndyCar, V8s, LMS, WEC and beyond.  The key point is though, that these guys are quality drivers.

It’s easy for even the most ardent motorsport fan not to see beyond the glamorous and high profile world of Formula 1. It is after all the most widely publicised form of the sport.  But missing out on the junior formulas is missing out on the grassroots of the sport.  Familiarise yourself with the key players in the junior formulas and a whole new world of tension, talent and drama unfolds.  The racing action in Formula Renault 2.0, F3, Formula Renault 3.5, GP3 and GP2 is high quality enough to rival any F1 race. And the same bloke doesn’t normally win every race.

Come to a race and see how an F1 star becomes the driver he will become.  Get his autograph while you still can.  Get a photo.  Celebrate the depth of talent in the sport that will one day be shielded by the high profile world of F1.

Daniil may be young but he has the potential to be a real star. As do others.  Don’t judge him before he has had chance to turn a wheel.  Celebrate instead that a hard working young driver has been given the opportunity of a lifetime.  And come see which other junior drivers are shining. Then next time it won’t be such a surprise.

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And they say motorsport is glamorous….

Monaco is a bit of a one off when it comes to our racing calendar.  For a start, it’s the only race of the year where we start track action on a Thursday.  It’s also the only street circuit on the Formula Renault 3.5 calendar, although the GP2 drivers also get to enjoy the thrills of Singapore.  So how do you manage to pack a Formula 1 Grand Prix and support series such as GP2, Formula Renault 3.5 and Porsche Supercup into a country of just 0.78 sq miles. Here’s our perspective….

photo2It’s not one of the most complicated journeys for our truckies, but the principals remain the same; arrive at a specific time to be parked up by the championship organisers.  In Monaco this is particularly important, with the GP2 teams carefully aligned in a multi-storey car park, and the FR3.5 team in the narrow car park of the Monaco Tennis Club.

While the FR3.5 team is based at the Monaco Tennis Club, officially speaking it’s actually photojust over the border in France.  While this means that the FR3.5 teams get to work out in the sunshine, overlooking the azure sea and eating in the coolest cliff top restaurant in the area, it does mean that they have to be ready to leave the awning at 7am in the morning for the grid!  It also means a rather precarious journey down to the pit lane in the back of a transit van!! The only way to travel…

photo3Up in the GP2 paddock meanwhile, which is located on the other side of Monaco, the team will be getting on with their work in the multi-storey car park fondly nicknamed as ‘Alcatraz’.  As one of the teams with a ‘pump up’ two storey trailer, we’re located on the taller first floor which means a rather scary journey for the longest pit trolley in the world down a rather steep ramp.  We’ve put the rather unfortunate and now infamous pit trolley crash of a couple of years ago to the back of our minds.  (Think tyres, GP2 front wings and various truckies lying in a tangled mess).

We’re one of only a few teams with cars in more than one championship in Monaco, so logistics can be particularly troublesome.  Getting from the GP2 paddock to the FR3.5 paddock can be a challenge worthy of the greatest explorer when the roads are closed in the perimeter around the circuit.  Making your way through Monaco is so difficult that the FR3.5 team stay in Menton on the eastern side of Monaco, while the GP2 squad are based in Nice in the west; making it easier to get to their respective paddocks.

So basically very early starts, impossible traffic both on and off track, challenging working conditions and drafty multi storey car parks.  Would we change it?  Not a chance……

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The view from the front of the grid

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Racing diary from Motorland

Racing diary from Motorland

Here at Carlin we figured it would be nice to take you behind the scenes a little and give you a bit of an insight as to what happens over the course of a race weekend. So here, from Motorland for the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, is our weekend…

Friday:

It's a tad foggy...

It’s a tad foggy…

07:30: Having grabbed a quick breakfast at the hotel it’s time to leave the hotel and make our way to the circuit. Fog is hanging over the track and rain is in the air – the wet tyres will definitely be needed at some point today. The team have a quick blast through pit stop practice before getting ready for the two free practice sessions today. The team practice their pit stops every day when they’re away – generally in the morning when they get to the track because the cars will have been set-up the night before.

08.30: With pit stop practice complete it’s time to take a step back and enjoy the view. Well, what isn’t obscured by the fog and rain that is.

Meanwhile Jazeman and Carlos have made their way to the track and are catching up with their engineers as they discuss the plan for the day. Both drivers look excited about the upcoming race weekend and begin sorting their race overalls, boots and helmets.

09:00: Still raining. No sign of it breaking. The tea machine is seeing a fair bit of use as everyone attempts to warm up.

10:30: It’s getting close to the session. The mechanics have already fired the car up this morning. And with everything quiet again in the garage the drivers jump in their cars – this isn’t quite the easy process you’d think. When it’s wet like today there’s one very important thing to do – wipe your boots down so you don’t slide off the pedals. After this the mechanics fit the HANS device, strap the driver in and put the steering wheel on the car. It’s at this point that Alex Carlow (our great team physio from Pro Performance) comes along and makes sure that both Jazeman and Carlos are hydrated by giving them a last swig of their drink before they head out.

We checked. Definitely still raining...

We checked. Definitely still raining…

10:40: Fire up, wheel out, green light, off we go. Time to switch on the timing screen and watch the action progress.

In the garage we have loads of televised information to view. At Carlin the local soap operas are a particular favourite! We kid. In reality, our screens give us lap times, sector times, position on track, weather information and on-track footage.

11:40: The cars are wheeled back into the garage after all the test programmes the team wanted to run through have been completed; it’s a case of running through the data and analysing everything we’ve collated now. This comes down to the engineers, data engineers and of course Carlos and Jazeman. This data is invaluable and allows us to make decisions on a number of variables over the course of the weekend.

12:30: Lunch time! A time to sit down briefly. Our chef has even promised brownies tomorrow. We’re going to be spoilt while we’re racing this year!

After the quick food pit stop it’s time to get back to work ready for the afternoon session.

13:15: The time between the sessions gives the drivers a chance to not only chat with their engineers but also to sit down and relax a little ahead of the next session. This can include a multitude of things; from sleeping and massages from Alex, listening to music and generally having a bit of a laugh with the team!  Some drivers prefer to relax before heading out on track, others prefer to be pumped up and ready for action so Alex will work out a pre-session routine to suit them.

15:10: Time to start another practice session. And guess what? This one is dry! Finally our lovely slick tyres can come out from their blankets. The dry track also gives us a chance to collect even more data which is great.

The body work comes off to work on what's underneath

The body work comes off to work on what’s underneath

16:15: The drivers are out the car, the data is being looked through, the tyres are wheeled away and being cleaned and the body work comes off. The on track action may be complete but we’ll still be here for a few hours.

The system for debriefing is a strict one; the same procedures are followed each time. Right now Jazeman is filling out a form for his engineer while Carlos has just finished chatting with his. It is also around this time that a post-session massage from Alex is on the cards.

The time from now until when we leave the track tonight will be spent prepping the car ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session depending on the data and feedback over the next few hours.

Ricky works it

Ricky works it

17:45: Interview time! Our Team Manager Ricky has his moment in front of the camera. He’s talking about the team and how today has been for us. Meanwhile back in the garage set-up work on the cars continue. With no engine changes or big technical issues tonight shouldn’t be too late. Normally we can leave the track anything from 9pm to past midnight depending on what needs to be done. The drivers who need to make sure they are well rested ahead of the following day will leave the circuit obviously earlier.

And so as we sit down for dinner and wait continue our prep, it’s time to sign off and see you again for qualifying tomorrow.

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Another year, another season and driver announcements coming your way

2013 started with an explosion of deliveries here at Carlin HQ. As we returned to the factory after a quiet Christmas break our Macau freight was back in the country and ready for us to welcome back the race winning car of Antonio Felix da Costa.

The Macau freight arrives back at base

The Macau freight arrives back at base

The only downside? Unpacking all the boxes.

It’s also been an exciting time for the GP3 Team who have taken delivery of their brand new 2013 cars. The new cars feature a raft of updates including a 400bhp engine, a top speed of 285kph and a new aerodynamics package aimed at encouraging further overtaking opportunities.

We’re sure already confirmed driver Eric Lichtenstien can’t wait to try it out! We’ll be letting you know about his team mates soon.

Elsewhere in the factory it’s business as usual as we all get ready for another year of hard racing, championship fights and close battles. Our GP2 squad has been announced with Felipe Nasr and Jolyon Palmer having both signed before Christmas.

While this week we’ve announced Jazeman Jaafar as one of our Formula Renault 3.5 drivers for the 2013 season. Graduating up with the team from the British F3 Championship, Jazeman has already tested with us and looks ahead to the upcoming season. Jazeman’s team mate will also be announced shortly.

As for the F3 team, we’ve not really seen a lot of them. With the testing ban in place, most of them have taken time off before everything kicks off again in a few weeks’ time. However we’re looking forward to telling you more about our 2013 team in the coming weeks.

All that’s left to say is we hope you all had a lovely holiday period and New Year! Here’s to another great season.

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Macau memories

Wow. What a weekend in Macau that was!

After 11 years we won the Macau Grand Prix once again – this time with Antonio Felix da Costa. And didn’t he do it in style?

For 2012 we took a total of six cars with us. Antonio Felix da Costa, Felipe Nasr, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Daniel Abt, Jack Harvey and Will Buller –  a great line-up of talented young drivers who certainly didn’t disappoint.

What can you say about Macau? It’s big, it’s brilliant and it’s an eye opener. With its close walls and tricky corners this is a track tackled only by the bravest. From Thursday’s running to the very end of Saturday’s race every Carlin driver and team member put their all into making this one of the team’s greatest Macau Grand Prix.

Following qualifying da Costa lined up on the grid in second position – red and yellow flags had hampered progress of the majority of the field with the Carlin man being one of them. However as he pulled away for the Qualification Race he took the lead and eventually the win which ensured he would start the 30th Formula Three Macau GP from pole position on Sunday afternoon.

And what a pole position it was. We couldn’t even see the grid markings as Antonio was pushed to the front. His engineer and mechanics struggled to get close to the car as the excitement built ahead of the hugely prestigious race as the fans and photographers flocked to the front.

However as the lights went out it was easy for Antonio and he maintained control of the race despite a safety car period to cross the line and brilliantly become the first driver since Takuma Sato in 2001 to win the Macau GP for Carlin.

There were a few highlights that really stood out to the whole team this weekend. Not least seeing Trevor Carlin celebrate 30 years of Formula Three in Macau by jumping into Buller’s car and becoming our seventh driver for the day!

 

 

 

 

 

And of course this…

Despite losing the Portuguese national anthem the podium was really quite special. The fans made up for it by singing their hearts out while the correct anthem was located and finally played out over the circuit.

It really was a great event to be part of. For the drivers, the engineers, the mechanics and every other team member it was a special year and an achievement that we are all incredibly proud of.

The only downside? We packed the trophies in our freight so won’t see them for a little while! But here’s a sneak peek of them on our table at the prize giving ceremony. We’ll make sure we tweet a picture of them as soon as they’re back and settled in their new home here at base.

You can also see more of our photos from the weekend by logging onto our Facebook page here.

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