After the composite mechanics, the truckies and the weather forecaster of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, let’s meet Rudi, our lifing specialist …
Since when have you been working for TMG?
I started with TOYOTA in 1992. At the beginning I was working in the stores then I got the possibility to swap over to the rally development testing. After this period, the company entered Formula 1 and I had the same position as I have now, responsible for the lifing, which means control of the lifetime of a part. It is a complex and quite demanding job.
What exactly is “lifing”?
Lifing is very important. You have to monitor and control the lifetime of certain parts. Most parts do not last forever and naturally we do not want any part to break unexpectedly so we manage their lifetime and make sure they are replaced on time. Most of the parts on a car require this management so I do the documentation for such parts on both cars. Some of these parts are essential in terms of safety and cannot run all the season, that’s why I need to keep an eye very strictly on their lifing. These parts have to be checked very regularly. After a race or a test, when we are back at the workshop, I make a report and send it to the different departments concerned. The department will send back recommendations for the parts to be changed. I start to work from the build-up sheet and create a new event in my data system putting there all the data collected from the different departments and the #1 mechanic of each car.
This job requires you to have a very good knowledge of all the parts of the car?
Yes, it is necessary to have a good overview of the spare parts. It is better if you understand as much as possible about the car to be more efficient and react as quickly as possible. There are about 950 different lifing parts in the car. Even if I have a good knowledge of them I get help from the factory and some of our departments.
On top of that, I have the responsibility for the chassis parts. For example, I have to check if we have with us everything that we need for a race weekend. Regarding the chassis, I have roughly 200 different parts to manage.
Where are you based to work on the lifing parts? Do you need to be on the spot?
During a race weekend I have to be on track, close to the team, that’s why I’m based in the storage truck. I collect all the info I need to put the parts in the data system. Between races it is quite the same, I work from the office still focused on the lifing parts, collecting data from engineers, chief mechanics and the R&D department, bringing it all together into the system. Of course, most of time I also have to write reports about what we changed, what we have to change and what will have to change in a near future. It is quite a big responsibility because if we ‘overlife’ a part, the consequences could be terrible. It is a job where you have to be very organized.
Do you use a specific software for the lifing parts?
Yes, I have a specific computer program to take care of the lifing. I can use it for simulation too. The lifing parts data system is very specific. The same system is used in the maintenance of aircrafts or helicopters. Some big airlines have exactly the same maintenance software for the lifing parts of their planes. As I have been trained to work on this specific system I would be able to take care of the lifing parts in the aeronautics area too.
Is there any difference between Formula 1 and endurance with your job?
Not really. The method and the process are the same to control the lifing of the parts. The main difference is the lifetime of a part, which is shorter in Formula 1 than in endurance. But generally speaking, the job is the same.
During the race itself, do you have the same task?
During the race I take care of the refuelling of car #1. At a pit stop, my task is to refuel the car following the race engineer’s instructions in terms of quantity of petrol. He can ask for a full refuel or a splash, which is very short, just two or three seconds. Regarding the race time remaining, the number of stints forecast and the track conditions, the quantity of petrol to be refuelled is not indicated in litres but in seconds. For example, the race engineer will ask for a 10, 15 or 20 seconds refuelling. There is a clock on the refuelling nozzle, which is necessary to be as precise as possible. Lifing parts remain the priority but it is great to work on the car during races, you have the feeling of being part of the action.