Bridgestones race to tame their hunger 12 Jul 2007
An army marches on its stomach, so the saying goes, and over a Formula One race weekend there are few armies as important as the Bridgestone personnel, who are charged with keeping the teams supplied with the tyres they need.
At every Grand Prix Bridgestone have three people allocated to looking after their staffs nutritional needs, with a chef and two assistants making sure no one goes hungry.
Bridgestone have around 60 personnel in attendance at the European rounds and in addition to this there are numerous guests who will be hosted by Bridgestone at some point over the race meeting.
Work begins on a Monday or Tuesday with the set-up of the kitchen on flyaway events. Given the diverse nature of the paddocks, the sites for the kitchens do vary tremendously, with the newer permanent tracks usually offering the best facilities and the temporary locations often proving more of a challenge. On European events, Bridgestone brings its own motorhome and this has its own kitchen, so set-up for these events can take place later.
Supplies are ordered and delivered with quantities all planned well in advance. Meat, fruit, salad, vegetables and deserts soon fill the Bridgestone cupboards, refrigerators and freezers. Pasta is part of the staple diet of many racing drivers and is also on offer for Bridgestones employees with around 20 kilogrammes consumed every meeting.
The tyre technicians are the first to need a hearty meal with their race meeting beginning usually on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. The tyre engineers are the next to arrive at the circuit and want their plate filled. From Friday on there are media and other guests who will enjoy good hospitality and drink a toast to Bridgestones on track success.
Bridgestones catering staff also keep the tyre fitting area well stocked with drinks, fruit and yoghurt. Fitting, especially in some of the hot climates that Formula One visits, can be very thirsty and hungry work. With the work required from Bridgestones Formula One employees, the importance of keeping everyone well fed cant be underestimated.
We have very long days for the technicians and engineers and these people are the link between the teams and Bridgestone, explains Bridgestone Motorsport Head of Track Engineering Operations, Kees van de Grint. It is crucially important that our technicians and engineers are well looked after and eat and drink well. For example, the job of our engineers is to monitor tyre behaviour and advise teams on the information from our reports.
Because of the nature of the job they are in the pit garages when the cars are out for practice sessions, qualifying and the race but it is after that when their job begins. They have to collect driver comments, inspect the tyres, enter the data and process it. This is all a lot of work.
Once all the information has been pooled and the conclusions drawn, the engineers return to the teams to advise them of the results. This all makes for a very long day. Fifteen hours at the track is common as the policy is to be at the circuit two hours before the first session. This is a long period of time if you dont have access to sufficient supplies of food and drink.
On race day we wear fire proof overalls for the entirety of the race. As this can be in very hot weather, we must keep up a good intake of fluid. Our workload increases after the first pit stop and then there is a lot of work on a Sunday evening. After the race there are reports to be prepared and processed, tyres to be stripped from rims and the whole set-up to be packed up.
If we do not have a nutritious diet we will not be able to function at our best.