The Brazilian Grand Prix is the 17th of the season and the 105th Grand Prix weekend for Panasonic Toyota Racing, but there are even more numbers which tell the story of life behind the scenes at the team.
The goal of Panasonic Toyota Racing is to succeed on track and around 650 team members from 32 different nations come together at the factory in Cologne, Germany to turn the Formula 1 dream into reality.
A Formula 1 car is made up of around 9,000 individual components, with the engine the most complex in this sense – with 4,500 parts combining to provide the power to go Grand Prix racing.
Such a complicated piece of high-tech machinery needs to be painstakingly assembled and two technicians spend five days assembling each RVX-07 engine, a total of 80 hours work to create the beating heart of the TF107 car.
But Panasonic Toyota Racing has an added edge when it comes to production, courtesy of the world-renowned Toyota Way principles. By putting these principles into action and aspiring to kaizen – continuous improvement – the manufacture of a cylinder head has been reduced from 10 weeks to just 14 days.
Once the car has progressed from the drawing board to the race track, via the team’s highly-skilled technicians, the kaizen process continues and the team on track have 20 different settings for the rear wing alone to help in the quest for ever-improving performance.
And don’t forget the role of the tyres in setting up the car. The Bridgestone Potenza tyres are inflated to 1.1 bar and a change of just 0.05 bar can make a radical difference to handling. Depending on track conditions, tyres work at 80-100°C in the dry, or 55-70°C in wet conditions but little in Formula 1 stays static, even the weight of the tyres, which is around 10kg, including the rim, but drops around half a kilo in a race as rubber is worn away.
With many different settings available on virtually every part of the car, the engineers and drivers would have a hard time finding the perfect set-up were it not for electronic sensors which monitor most aspects of car behaviour. On the TF107, 250 sensors supply up to 1,300 different statistics.
Waldemar Klemm, Senior Manager IT Systems, says: “Once we have the data from the car, for example, we will send it to Cologne, we will modify different aspects of it and then the results are sent directly back so they can be used immediately at the track.”
That in itself is no small task and around 350 gigabytes of telemetry data is transferred from the systems at the track to the computers at the factory each year, at an impressive average rate of 400 kilobytes a second.
That is considerably faster than the time it takes race team members to jet from Cologne to race tracks on five continents, with those attending all 17 races this season clocking up 230 hours in the air while the team has booked 7,000 beds in 60 hotels around the world for them to rest.
But people are just one part of the Panasonic Toyota Racing travelling team, with between 37 and 41 tons of equipment also going to each race, including a ton of cables - to transport this, the team sends four trucks and one motorhome carried by two trucks around Europe.
As well as the cars and spare parts, day-to-day basics are also required at the track and the catering crew use around 80kg of meat, 100kg of fruit and vegetables and 20kg of pasta keeping around 80 team members well fed all race weekend.
Team Manager Richard Cregan says: “You have very, very long days and people working late into the evening, so it is a very important challenge to make sure those people have the right environment to work in.”
All that hard work does not go unnoticed by the outside world, but to show off the team, in 2007 the PR department distributed 18 video news releases (VNRs), 43 written features, 112 press releases and over 1,500 photographs to the worldwide media.
After all, Panasonic Toyota Racing is one team, with one aim.
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