Ron Dennis has announced that from 2009 onwards, the McLaren team he runs will rotate their race staff around. The reason for changing the personnel present at the grands prix is because of the expanding calendar and the lack of a three-week summer break will not allow his employees enough time away from work to recuperate. Currently, we are on this three-week break and the drivers have probably all taken short holidays to relax and refocus. Likewise, the teams will have enjoyed some time-off as well, but as of next season, it will be regular one/two gaps between races from start to finish.
The obvious advantage of having a three-week break is that everybody gets a chance to relax and enjoy time away from the race tracks and offices. While some testing has happened, it has been relatively low-key, and next season there will be no chance to test. The disadvantage of having a short hiatus is for the fans, who have to wait 19 or so days between the two races. Having the season run through with regular pattern will help with this, although the teams will be pretty tired at the season-end.
To combat this, Ron Dennis will rotate his staff who attend the races to allow each member a chance to take a well deserved rest.
This break is absolutely essential for all the people who travel. They don’t get the right amount of time with their families and this gives them an opportunity to have at least one week where they are not at the office or workshop.
It’s a key ingredient of keeping people motivated and happy when you are addressing the calendar, which makes next year’s difficult for them. We will have to accommodate that by rotating people. They will not be expected to go right through the season. Ron Dennis.
However, while Ron may be going a little soft in his old age (what with all the tea parties as well), is he really doing the best thing for his team? Currently, the race teams remain fairly static with the same faces showing up time and time again. Felipe Massa’s race engineer, Rob Smedley, will be expected to attend every race this year; failure to do so could wreak havoc on the Ferrari team.
Having the same staff at each race obviously means consistency and knowledge. The staff know exactly what they’re doing, are aware of any issues from previous races and the drivers are better for knowing who to speak to about certain things. It isn’t clear if Ron will allow the key staff to rotate, people like the race engineers who are important to the drivers during a race weekend. But needless to say, it will be interesting to see if other teams adopt this strategy, if more staff will be required (which goes against cost-cutting) and if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages during the 2009 season.