Michael Merritt: Dyno Maintenance Manager
This Englishman was born in London, and is now a fluent French speaker. He has always loved all things technical, and his speciality is engine dynos.
Q: What job did you do before arriving at Viry-Châtillon?
Michael Merritt: I worked at Renault's Lardy technical centre for eleven years as a dyno technician. Primarily, I was responsible for the installation and commissioning of new dynos. I then spent ten years at AVL (a company specialising in the production and installation of dynos), and first came into contact with Renault Sport at this time. To summarise, I have worked on engine dynos for over 25 years!
Q: So how long have you been working in F1?
MM: Including my time at AVL, it comes to almost ten years. I joined Renault Sport in 1999. In terms of engine dynos, F1 is really the pinnacle of expertise. That's why I wanted to work at Viry.
Q: What are your responsibilities?
MM: To put it simply, I provide the engineers with the means to test the engines they design. One part of my job is very technical, the other administrative. I am in charge of maintaining the nine dynos used at Viry, as well as all the modifications and developments. In the last three years, we have installed a completely new dyno (number 9, capable of running an engine and gearbox together) and renovated two of the existing dynos with the most recent technology.
The major difficulty is remaining reactive enough to cope with the needs of the drawing office. When they design a new engine, we must immediately produce suitable new parts for the dyno, and then build it up before the engine has even been produced. It means that when the engine is ready, it can be tested immediately.
Q: What does this mean on a day-to-day basis?
MM: Well, I manage a team of 17 people for twelve hours a day, and sometimes more... The main part of my job is about planning when we do work, or introduce developments... I define and research the technical solutions to the problems we are faced with. I also need to ensure the dynos are functioning well, and properly prepare engines for going on to the dyno. Like lots of jobs in F1, our works demands a very high level of accuracy. We have a direct record of our performance every fortnight: the races are the best way of judging our work!
Q: What sort of qualifications or training does your job demand?
MM: I spent a long apprenticeship in England which allowed me to gain experience in a lot of different areas. To master an engine dyno, you need knowledge in lots of fields (electronics, hydraulics, IT, mechanical engineering...). Learning on the job is the best possible training, because it is such a wide-ranging job...
Q: What personal qualities and skills does it call on most?
MM: Availability, obviously, but you need good personal skills. I am in constant contact with the development engineers, and I must understand their needs 100%, so that I can explain why we can, or occasionally cannot, meet their request...
Q: What is your favourite part of the job?
MM: The wide range of jobs that it includes, but also the fact that I have to constantly tackle new challenges and find the best solutions: it's a very motivating challenge!
Q: And the worst?
MM: Definitely the lack of time to do everything we would like to!
Q: What has been your most memorable moment with the team?
MM: Winning in Hungary this year, and winning again having experienced Renault's other successes when I was at AVL.