Behind the scenes
Team selection and contracts
Although it can be quite rewarding nurturing a small team over many seasons,
initially worth selecting one of the four big guns (Williams, Tyrrell, Benetton
McLaren) as you'll start with better technology, attract more money and stand a
greater chance of success. Overall Williams is probably the pick of
the bunch, as it just shades the others in terms of drivers (hooray for Damon)
When it comes to negotiating your opening contracts, sign early and pick the
engine available. Providing you're successful, you should impress the makers
sufficiently to keep them supplying you with free engines in subsequent seasons.
Spare parts and tyre contracts should always be of the highest quality
but when it comes to fuel, sign with the manufacturer whose juice is most
compatible with your engine.
Your team should always strive to stay as close to the cutting edge of car
as is humanly and financially possible, but you'll need to maintain a strict
between overall design allocation and developing a new chassis for next season.
Last year's model really won't cut any ice out on the circuit.
Manufacturing and facilities
When you do begin developing facilities, plan well in advance and make sure that
the cost won't bankrupt the team. The relatively cheap technologies such as CAD
and CAM will improve design and engineering capabilities at comparatively little
cost, while the testing rig will provide good overall performance enhancement.
All of the great teams build their car's components in-house and you should aim
to do the same. In-house parts always out perform their commercially available
rivals, but for the first season or two, the cost is prohibitive, so you'll have
make do with mainly off-the-shelf components. When you do bite the financial
bullet and build carbon fibre and manufacturing units you'll see a radical
improvement, and these facilities will actually save you money by cutting
manufacturing costs while improving component quality. Remember, in-house
technology is superseded by off-the-shelf parts at the end of a season, so
have to start all over again to maintain your competitive edge.
Investing some time in developing driver aids can pay remarkable dividends, but
you must balance this with FIA rule changes. Frankly, it's a gamble building
expensive, time-consuming systems which you may not be able to use, so instead
concentrate on legal driver aids, but be prepared to respond when the FIA does
change its mind.
Each driving aid is a collaboration between the Design, Mechanics and
Engineering divisions and you should co-ordinate their efforts to ensure
come in on time. Some departments work at faster rates than others, so check
mail regularly to monitor project status, and the moment a department finishes
work on one project, concentrate their efforts elsewhere.
Money is the bottom line to success in Formula One and you'll need lots of it. A
good commercial manager and his team will make all the difference, so don't be
afraid to splash out and poach successful rivals if the opportunity arises.
Merchandising is a nice sideline but sponsorship is where the big bucks are, and
you should invest large amounts of time and effort into wooing potential
Remember success on the track breeds success elsewhere, and it's always easier
to market a winning team.
How well you do with sponsors is determined by both the time you spend with
them and the quality of your commercial staff; considerations like team
nationality, profile raising merchandise and location of the next race can be
to your advantage. Finally, protect your investment with adequate security and
don't be afraid of using espionage to see what the other teams are up to. You
might get the occasional slapped wrist from the FIA, but the benefits far
Out on the circuit
The key to success in Formula One is experiment, experiment and experiment
again, and you'll need to perform exhaustive testing to wring every last ounce
performance from your drivers and cars. The wind tunnel is a must for assessing
aerodynamic profiles and essentially what you're trying to find is a good
compromise between speed and handling. It's definitely worth noting down the
results of using different wing profiles, then bringing that knowledge to bear
race day. Hockenheim, for example, is all about power on the straight, while
winding courses like Monte Carlo require extra downforce and cornering.
Try to schedule a test day before every single race and use it to develop areas
where your team is under achieving. At first it's probably not worth venturing
far from home base, as this increases costs significantly. However, track
familiarisation routines on nearby circuits can sometimes prove worthwhile.
Again, this is a chance to test your car in race conditions and you should pay
particular attention to the internal and external set-ups. It's vital to try out
components and driver aids during test days, otherwise they won't perform
efficiently in the actual Grand Prix. The test drivers can be particularly
this area, allowing you to tinker with more exotic and experimental design
- this is a good role for grooming younger drivers.
Although you can choose to take part in every single phase of the race, you
always compete in the testing and qualification stages. Pre-qualifying testing
you the chance to gauge the general speed and conditions of the track and fine-
tune your car's performance to match. Don't worry too much about times, but use
this phase to check how the other teams are doing and to set realistic targets
qualifying. Pay special attention to the weather and track conditions and try
the actual tyre sets you're likely to use in the race to gauge their wear
Don't forget, you can use these tyres again if wear isn't too excessive.
The two qualifying stages are vital and you should concentrate your efforts on
getting the best qualifying time you can attain. It's important for your overall
strategy to get as near to pole as possible and any lap records you set in the
process will bring financial rewards from the FIA, a useful bonus in the quest
solvency. A commanding position on the grid (ideally first row) means you can
dominate the race and dictate strategy to the other teams, rather than following
Use qualifying tyres and put in a light fuel load so that you can concentrate on
speed. Aim to record your 'hot lap' (i.e. best qualifying time) on the first or
second circuit after you've gone out, when your qualifiers are warmed up and in
their best condition.
Don't be afraid to use 'step on it' and 'do or die orders' to improve
Keep an eye on the other teams' qualifying times, so that you're not tempted to
take unnecessary risks and write off a very expensive chassis in the process.
Don't forget you're allowed only seven sets of tyres for the whole Grand Prix,
don't blow the lot trying to qualify. You'll need an absolute bare minimum of
three tyre sets for the actual race.
Pit and fuel strategy
Pit and fuel strategy is critical to winning a Grand Prix and your first
consideration should be the size of your fuel tank. A bigger tank is going to
the car heavier, but as you progress the fuel load will lighten and allow you to
out much longer. How many stops? Well, that's an eternal dilemma even for the
real Formula One teams, but as Murray Walker maintains, the longer you can stay
out there, the better your chances. You might try a one-stop strategy on some of
the shorter circuits, but on the whole, a two-stop race is probably preferable.
Tyre sets are graded A, B, C, D, which is hard to soft, but also slow to fast.
and B's are durable but provide least traction and therefore less speed, while
C and D compounds are certainly quick, but tyre wear becomes a real problem.
Respond to the race situation and make sure the tyres you've chosen will last
distance. Even in slightly rainy conditions, always use wet sets.
You should be aware that choosing higher risk driving strategies causes more
wear and pushes up fuel consumption considerably. Allow three to five laps extra
per refuelling so that you can challenge for places. And on your final pit stop,
consider the merits of a 'splash and dash'. Fill the car with as light a fuel
you can risk and use softer tyres to make your final laps your fastest. You
make use of all the reports and telemetry to monitor the progress of both your
cars and those of the other teams. The TV coverage is extremely handy for
keeping track of your nearest rivals.
Above all, be flexible in your strategy and tailor your tactics to the race
Weigh the risks and don't sacrifice certain championship points by trying to
a place which is beyond you. On the other hand, when you are in a strong
be ruthless and press home any advantage you've created. Finally, although
there're bucketfuls of glory if one of your drivers wins a race or even the
championship, you're the GP manager and the constructors title is of the utmost
importance. Every race should be run with this in mind; it's the overall team
performance that's counts, not the individual drivers.
Top money-making tips
Expand your commercial department ASAP. Excellent grade assistants can do
twice the work of very good ones, and the money a successful commercial
department can earn you will more than offset any additional wage costs.
You land sponsors by earning liaison points based on the time you've spent with
them, how well your team is doing and the result of any promo material. Once
you've gained a sponsor's confidence, always keep your people working on them,
even if it's only a 5% allocation
Top wealth sponsors may take over ten races to come up with big money, so keep
working on them. In the meantime, sign shorter deals with smaller companies to
tide you over.
Sponsors will offer up to 45% of their wealth for high cost locations, 25% for
second rate areas and 15%, 10% and 5% for the remaining three. Use this to
gauge how much money they're holding and if it's worth investing more time with
When you view sponsors offers, try to hold out for a four- to six-race deal. If
build up enough liaison points with a company, they'll eventually offer you more
money for less time! Always deal with sponsors direct, rather than by e-mail, as
they'll always stump up
more cash that way.
Bigger sponsors demand success. 'Brilliant' wealth companies won't deal with
anyone who finished lower than 6th last year, 'Superb' companies draw the line
8th, 'Excellent' companies at 10th, and 'High' and 'Average' 12th and 14th
respectively. Don't waste time with a sponsor you can't land.