Hungarian GP Jordan preview

Rubens Barrichello has scored World Championship points at each of the last two events and will be looking for a third successive points-finish for Benson and Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot at the next race on the calendar, the Hungarian Grand ...

Rubens Barrichello has scored World Championship points at each of the last two events and will be looking for a third successive points-finish for Benson and Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot at the next race on the calendar, the Hungarian Grand Prix

The Hungarian GP has not been a particularly lucky race for Rubens in the past. In fact last year the 3.965km/2.463mile circuit was the venue for one of the biggest heartbreaks of the Brazilian's career. He was lying in third place and looked set for a rostrum finish, but lost power within sight of the chequered flag, eventually coasting across the line in seventh place.

Rubens was not the only person to feel disappointed in Hungary last year. As with the triumphs, the low-points in a Grand Prix drivers' career are shared by the entire team. Yet the prospect of a career within Formula One still holds a massive attraction for thousands of aspiring mechanics, technicians and engineers. "We receive approximately 30 letters a week from people looking for jobs" says Jordan Grand Prix' General Manager, Trevor Foster, "and that's when we don't have any vacancies. When we placed an advertisement recently for 6 staff, it attracted 187 applications".

So what does Foster look for in an employee? "Obviously it varies according to the position on offer" says Foster. "The right qualifications are becoming more and more essential these days, when the sport is so driven by technology. However, ifs also important to have the right attitude. Attention to detail plays a major role, together with commitment, and an ability to work unsupervised and under enormous amounts of pressure!

"Most of the mechanics and technicians have a related background, be it in the motor trade or in engineering" continues Foster "They served an apprenticeship, then got a position at a lower level of racing, working up through the formulae before getting into Formula One. For the engineers, the route now is mainly straight from university with mechanical engineering degrees either in vehicle dynamics or aerodynamics. They come into the Drawing Office at a junior level, and work their way up. Those are the most # conventional routes into Formula One".

Some of the people who will be working with Rubens Barrichello and team-mate Martin Brundle, in Hungary next week had a less conventional background though. Rick Wiltshire began his working life as a disc-jockey on Radio Caroline, a `pirate' station which operated from a ship moored off the South East coast of England- He spent two years on-board, broadcasting his show twice daily under the name of `Crispin St John' "When I returned to dry land, I set myself up doing car repairs and after a little while got a garage" says Wiltshire. Through that I met up with Mark Blundell who was into motocross at the time. He used to come into the showroom to strip his bike down, and then we'd always have a mad panic on Friday night to get it back together in time! When he decided to try four-wheels instead, he asked me to look after the car for him. I'd never taken any interest in motor racing prior to that; in fact the first time I saw a circuit was when Mark went to test his Formula Ford 1600 car at Brands Hatch. In addition to working on the car, I used to drive it to and from the races. Each time Mark went into a bigger formula he got a bigger truck to accommodate the car, and I had to get a better licence to drive the truck! I eventually ended up with a Class 1 licence and, as I'd always enjoyed the truck side better than the mechanical side, decided to pursue it as a career. I joined Leyton House as a `truckie' in 1987 - so I got into Formula One before Mark did!"

Composites Fabricator Stuart Collins' first experiences of motorsport were as a competitor. "I had a few friends who raced bikes and persuaded me to give it a go myself - which I did until it got to be a bit too expensive. I became a sidecar passenger instead, eventually turning professional. I would race during the summer, and in the winter I lived in Geneva where we would build the sidecars for the manufacturer. In 1977 I raced with Mike Hobson, one of the best side-car drivers of his time, and together we won the Isle of Man TT. The next year I finished 2nd in the World Championship with Alan Michell. Eventually I decided I'd had one accident too many so I stopped racing sidecars and concentrated on building them instead. We used to build and maintain race-cars in the Geneva workshop as well, so when I came back to England that's what I looked for. I worked with Sportscars for a while, eventually ending up in Formula One about 11 years ago".

Research & Development Engineer Paul Thompson was also a professional sportsman in his youth. "I was sports mad at school and played a lot of football, both for district teams and for Bedfordshire County football team. I was spotted by a talent scout from Luton Town who invited me to have a trial. I played in their youth team and then, when I was 16, I was invited to sign as an apprentice professional. I played professional football for Luton for 3 years. Whilst I was at Luton my parents persuaded me to get some back-up qualifications, so I took a motor vehicle engineering course. I didn't quite make the grade as a footballer, so I used the qualifications to get a job in a garage. The manager was interested in racing and rallying and invited me to go along with him to a couple of meetings, and suggested I bring my spanners! I got the bug and I decided to see if I could find somebody to pay me to work in motorsport. I found a job at Royale, as a Prototype Engineer working under Rory Byrne".

As well as attending races, Thompson is heavily involved with the test team who last week were in action at the Lurcy-Levis circuit near Magny Cours. Italian Fabrizio de Simone tried various different aerodynamic set- ups during the course of a very productive three day test. Rubens will be behind the wheel of the test-car at Silverstone next week where he joins test-driver Gianni Morbidelli who is evaluating components for the 1997 car. On Thursday Barrichello will head out to join Martin Brundle and the rest of the Benson and Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot team at the Hungaroring where he will be hoping to put the disappointment of the 1993 Hungarian GP firmly behind him.

-- Stephen M Baines

"[The Autosport sticker] started to peel off in the middle of Eau Rouge and it distracted me. In fact it was the first thing to hit the barrier" Tiff Needell - Jaguar XJR-15 Challenge - Interview with Autosport


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Rubens Barrichello , Mark Blundell , Martin Brundle , Tiff Needell , Fabrizio de Simone , Gianni Morbidelli
Teams Jordan