Greg Baker is the number 1 mechanic on Jarno Trulli's car. And he wouldn't swap his place for anything in the world... The Renault F1 Team works from less than one hundred square metres to run its three cars at the races. With space at a...
Greg Baker is the number 1 mechanic on Jarno Trulli's car. And he wouldn't swap his place for anything in the world...
The Renault F1 Team works from less than one hundred square metres to run its three cars at the races. With space at a premium, every job needs to happen as quickly and effectively as possible. Each chassis is looked after by its own group of mechanics: a number 1 (reponsible for the whole car), two number 2 mechanics (one for the front, one for the rear) then a mechanic in charge of composites, a hydraulic specialist, and a gearbox technician.
On top of this come three more mechanics with general responsibilities. Overall, nine people are involved with each R24 on the chassis side. On top of this, there are the mechanics from Viry-Châtillon who take care of the V10, the engine and chassis engineers, the electronics technicians, then the representatives of Michelin, Elf, Hitco for the brakes... There's not much space in the garage, in other words! Greg Baker is in charge of supervising work on Jarno Trulli's car at every race.
Le Mans, touring cars... and F1
Like many of his counterparts, the Briton attended the "school" of racing. "I still remember the afternoons I spent at Oulton Park, just a few miles from our house..." he says. "From an early age, I knew I wanted to work in racing." After beginning in sportscars (Jaguar, in 1990 and 1991), and then working through national touring cars (Williams BTCC team, and Alfa Romeo in German DTM), Greg came into F1 with Arrows in 1997.
World Champion Damon Hill was the team's lead driver, and missed out on victory in Budapest that year by a whisker: "Until 2004, that race was the best and worst memory of my racing career," smiles Greg. In 1998, he became a number 1 mechanics, and he joined Renault in this capacity in November 2001.
A racing life
Last season's regulation changes didn't make the mechanics' life any easier. Before, they could adjust their cars right up until the start of the race, while they now need to get everything done before qualifying on Saturday.
"That means the pressure is very high, and the time available limited: we need to pay particular attention because it is easy to makes mistakes." When 'his' car is out on the track, Greg doesn't miss a moment of the action. And if it slows for any reason, then there is just one reaction: "is there a mechanical problem? And is it my fault?"
Each mechanic pays extra special attention to his own car, and their relationship with the driver is also special. "Jarno is a good guy," explains Greg. "One of the best I have worked with. He rarely goes off the track, but if he does, we don't mind: what we want above all else is a driver who give 100%!"
In contrast to some other teams in the pitlane, the Renault philosophy is about enjoying your work... So music blares out in the garage. "Everybody here loves their job," concludes Greg. "Discipline is necessary of course, but there's no point going over the top. Everybody knows what their responsibilities are."