Every Friday we ask resident Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Tweeter The Fifth Driver to take your questions for #SocialFriday via @McLarenF1. Here's a few of the best questions from Friday at the Chinese Grand Prix, with answers in full from our mysterious F1 micro-blogger:
@Zeoalex: What's the history behind #RocketRed?
“Rocket red disappeared from sight for several years when the team switched to West backing in 1997, but re-appeared in 2006 and made a full-blown return to the car when the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes partnership was launched in ’07.
“It’s hard to imagine a McLaren without it.”
@Pearlaceous: How do you deal with back to back races that are miles away? Any tips? When do you fly out to Bahrain?
“Our hard-working travel department has the regular headache of arranging the travel, transfer and accommodation of nearly 100 people.
“Taking this weekend’s China/Bahrain back-to-back as an example, flights out of Shanghai began on Sunday evening, while the race team were still busy at the circuit disassembling and packing down the cars and garage equipment. The majority of people flew early on Monday morning, via Dubai, and arrived in Bahrain on Monday night. Some chose to stay in Shanghai and work, while others rejoined the team on Tuesday/Wednesday direct from the UK. The freight arrived on Tuesday and the job of building the garages, hospitality and offices began once again.
“Most people in F1 are seasoned travelers who’ll shrug off the effects of jet-lag, and I’m sure many could offer many useful tips to lesser experienced travelers. Some useful tips would be to try and sleep on the plane, use any jet-lag time productively to get work done (I’m writing this myself at 5am in a Bahrain hotel room), and eat and drink healthily (mineral water and fruit) to ensure your immune system is well-boosted to deal with the threat of illness.”
@glastiri87: How many cars do you have in stock at any given time?
“The testing ban of 2008/2009 significantly reduced the number of race-readt chassis we require for the duration of a grand prix season. Before the banning of in-season testing, teams required as many as seven or eight cars to cope with the independent demands of racing and testing.
“Nowadays, the situation is far simpler: ordinarily, we’ll build three tubs for the start of the season before finishing a fourth a little further into the year. Why four? We always need two for Jenson and Checo (natch), while an unbuilt-up third spare chassis is also taken to every race, even if it is rarely used.
“Meanwhile, the fourth chassis will be back at MTC being primed and painted before entering rotation. All cars are regularly switched during the year as the cycle of painting and repairing continues – you can note the changes as we always publish the chassis numbers on every race-weekend press release.”
@RealVikramSena: Do all the drivers stay in the same hotel? Or different teams, different hotels?
“The Formula 1 community – drivers, mechanics, engineers, marketing staff, hospitality crews, broadcasters and media – number in the thousands, so it’s normal that they’ll be scattered across many hotels in every city we visit.
“However, due to the large numbers of rooms required by each team, it’s common for several teams to block-book rooms in the same hotel. We’re sharing a hotel with Lotus this weekend, for instance, and often find ourselves in the same hotel as the Williams team.
“Often drivers and team management congregate around a favourite, or a well-established hotel in a particular city, but it’s less common nowadays. Fortunately, too, our partnership with the Hilton Hotel Group means that we gain access to some fantastic hotels in the cities hosting the races.”