21 July 2016
Guest Blog post by Thomann Nutzfahrzeuge AG (CH-Schmerikon), Official Partner of the Sauber F1 Team. Two fascinated employees report on their up-close and personal F1 experience at Spielberg and Silverstone and on their “Trucker Feelings” on the route Switzerland – Spielberg – Silverstone – Hinwil.
On The Road With The Sauber F1 Team – An Experience
One often hears: “You have to experience an F1 race at least once in life!” “We can confirm that!” André Lehmann and Andrea Niggli say in unison. Both Thomann staff joined the Sauber F1 Team as truck drivers and all-round helpers at the time when the entire technology and hospitality infrastructure was moved from Spielberg to Silverstone and then back to Hinwil. Their employer, Thomann Nutzfahrzeuge AG, is an Official Partner of the Sauber F1 Team and as such the team’s supplier of tractor units, trucks and vans for transport to the European races. The race spirit and all the trappings at Spielberg and Silverstone majorly impressed both men.
“I did not know that the ferry Calais to Dover features a special lounge for chauffeurs.” explains André. “The lounge is splendidly furnished to eat, shower and sleep.” And it is marked by a very friendly and cooperative atmosphere. There were plenty of topics for discussion in the face of F1 racing and the European Football Championship.
The “Ashford International Truckstop” was an experience in itself. Located halfway between Dover and Maidstone, this first-class service area has it all: shop, bar, restaurant, gym, TV lounge, truck washing facilities, a laundry service and much more. “The high safety standards for vehicles and cargo are especially beneficial,” says André “as it offers peace of mind especially considering the valuables like F1 cars in the truck.” It is not for nothing that Ashford was awarded “Truck Stop of the Year” in 2016!
Long Days Are Normal In Formula One
“As a truck driver transporting the Sauber F1 Team material, one has to be an all-rounder at the same time.” says Andrea. Loading and unloading the trucks; setting up the pits and the paddock hospitality (and dismantling it again after the race); helping out the pit crew during race preparation, are all part of the job.
“On the way back from Silverstone to Hinwil this resulted in a 20-hour day.” highlights Niggli. The aim was to transfer the race cars and spare parts back to Hinwil in three trucks – and in the shortest time possible. Therefore, the trucks were manned with double crews in order to meet the compulsory periods of rest. Sauber holds a special permit that allows their trucks to drive at night in Switzerland. “I was constantly reminded that long working days are absolutely common in F1.” reports Andrea Niggli.
Engine sounds, vibrations and fuel odours
The electric atmosphere around the races was extremely impressive for both Thomann employees. At Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, GP2 and GP3 races and the Porsche Supercup were all on the menu prior to the F1 race. “The 30 Porsche pilots wowed me because as they all drive the same cars, it’s totally down to driver skills.” raves André Lehmann. Highly interesting too, was the qualifying and the strict FIA measures taken right thereafter, with FIA staff putting seals on the race car covers. The “fire up” with all the engines revving was an acoustic spectacle. Another fascinating experience was the “pit lane walk”, a stroll along the pit lane, which allows visitors to watch the racing teams doing their pit stop practice. Andrea was close to the action in Silverstone, as both Sauber C35-Ferrari came in for their pit stops, one right behind the other. “Two cars coming in for their pit stop in succession – that’s challenging even for the savviest, best-rehearsed pit crew,” he says, “especially as it only happens on rare occasions”.
The Sauber F1 Team – A Big Family
Andrea Niggli and André Lehman agree: “The atmosphere and team spirit in the Sauber F1 Team is one of a kind!” The warm welcome, the rapid integration and mutual helpfulness left an extremely positive impression. “Everyone can wholeheartedly rely on each other from the boss, Monisha Kaltenborn, to the kitchen staff.” Andrea Niggli summarises.
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Click here to learn more about our team partner Thomann Nutzfahrzeuge AG. Comment below! Can you imagine spending time with a Formula One team this up, close and personal?