From the warm-up comic to the F1 test driver and the reserve goalie, what is it like to work in someone elses shadow?
I studied engineering at Cambridge: its fascinating to test the technical innovations first-hand
Oliver Turvey, 32, Formula One test driver, Penrith
I started racing karts when I was eight at my local track in Cumbria. I won my first national championship when I was 12, and my second, in a different class, when I was 15. The following year I progressed to racing single-seater cars. It was a struggle. Motor sport is really expensive and my family didnt have the money, but we managed to find some sponsorship.
I had some successful years in the Formula BMW UK Championship and got nominated for the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year award at the age of 19, which I went on to win. That was quite a turning point. The prize included a test drive in a McLaren F1 car. That first test went really well and I signed for the team as a test driver at the end of the year.
In the early 2000s, test drivers did a lot of track testing. Nowadays, thats quite limited. Access to the cars is difficult and the race drivers themselves want to track-test as much as possible. But, most years, Ive been fortunate enough to drive the car for a couple of days at least. Most of my time at McLaren is spent driving the simulator in the teams factory in Woking. In the short term, its about working on the cars set-up for the next race. In the medium term, its working on developing the car through the season. And then theres the long term, adapting the design of next years car within any new regulations that are coming in.
I studied engineering at Cambridge, and have always been interested in the technical side. You get to see the developments and innovations first-hand they all come through the simulator before the car is manufactured. Other test drivers are maybe less interested in this aspect. Perhaps my fascination for it is why Ive been a test driver for 10 years; Im one of the longest-standing in Formula One.
Its important for a race driver to have someone they believe in. Every time a new driver comes in, they want to understand your role and to trust that youre improving the car for them. And you need to understand what they want from the car. At each post-race debrief, we listen back to the drivers on their radios to hear their feedback.
As a kid, racing in Formula One was obviously the dream. Being a test driver can be a route to one of the racing spots in a team you always hope you have the chance to step up one day. But there are few opportunities. There are only 20 seats in a season its a very tough environment. It wont happen for me now.
At the same time as testing for McLaren, though, I have been able to develop my career as a race driver. Ive raced across many formulas, including Formula Three and GP2. Ive also won the Le Mans 24-Hour race in the LMP2 class. I currently race in Formula E, the class that solely uses electric-powered cars, so I still carry a dream of becoming a world champion. McLaren have been very flexible in working around my racing schedule: they think its good for me to be race-sharp.
I feel very proud to have made a career out of motor sport. Many of the guys I used to race didnt even progress from karting. Even if I didnt quite reach the pinnacle of Formula One, being a test driver for one of the top teams has been the next best thing.
People study for degrees in their dressing room. I did my masters
Rosemary Annabella Nkrumah, 39, actor, London
Original Article : HERE ;
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