While attending the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona last weekend, Badger’s Sarah Merritt was lucky enough to be given a tour of the motorhome by the very lovely guys down at Sahara Force India. Read on for some behind the scenes insight.
The Spanish Grand Prix marks the start of the European leg of the F1 season, and as well as traditionally bringing with it a raft of upgrade for the teams, it also marks the arrival of the team motorhomes in the paddock.
A “home from home” from May in Barcelona until reaching Monza in September, these eye-catching buildings combine housing a hospitality unit for entertaining guests with the functional side of things, containing office space and ensuring that the team are fed and watered.
I approach the Sahara Force India motorhome just as Checo is leaving for the evening, and enter up the steps to the ground floor level. Across the doorway, there is a display case housing some race boots and a selection of team and driver items. It is the Thursday of the grand prix weekend, and the ground floor is quite quiet, but I’m greeted with a smile by the hospitality staff and offered a drink from the bar at the side. There is a fridge full of drinks from the team sponsor, Hype.
The staff tell me that this is the lull before the storm, and that they are expecting to be a lot busier as the weekend continues. It’s a nice environment, with a combination of high tables and chairs running down the centre of the space, and lower ones against the far wall. There are TV screens all around showing Sky F1, and artwork on the walls of the team’s cars on track. I can see guests enjoying spending time here, as well as media when the team run their Curry Nights and invite them inside.
We walk through to the back, behind the scenes to guests, and I talk to the team working in the kitchen. They are preparing an evening meal for the team, in a compact, galley style kitchen area, where they tell me two or three of them work at any one time. I note that it is a good job that they seem to get along well as the size of the area must make working there quite “intimate”! The food looks and smells amazing, and I feel quite peckish seeing it! This guest level totals 120 square metres including the kitchen.
We ascend the stairs to the second level, a private area that is just for team members. There is a boardroom with conference call facilities across the back of the floor, looking out over the car park to the rear of the paddock.
Alongside this, we come to the marketing office, where the team have a quiet zone to work at their laptops at the desks, perhaps answering emails or preparing the latest press releases, as well as there being some quite considerable storage areas for anything they might have with them whilst at the race.
There is a private room for each driver on this floor, and we take a look in Nico Hulkenberg’s room. Inside, he has a wardrobe containing his race suits and team kit for the weekend, and a desk and chair should he need to do and signing. His water bottle and cap for his sponsor DEKRA sit upon the desk. He also has a massage table for treatment between sessions on track.
In the main, open-planned area, the tables are laid for dinner as the team will soon be coming across for their evening meal. There’s also a breathtaking view of the paddock from the panoramic window that runs along the side of this floor – it’s a very light and bright space to spend time in. The team level totals 130 square metres, including the driver rooms and meeting rooms.
We ascend the spiral staircase up to the third and top level of the motorhome. This is where Dr Mallya, the Team Principal, has a private office, with an outside terrace area. It’s an outstanding view from this level. There is a desk just outside his office door for his personal assistant, and a nice area on the landing of this level with a few chairs around a coffee table – ideal for a quick catch-up meeting. This top tier of the motorhome totals 83 square metres.
The motorhome totals 332 square metres of floor space, and the steel and glass structure takes 7 people 3 days to construct, and weighs over 40 tonnes.
As I descend back down the stairs to the guest level, I feel quite privileged to have seen into the team-only areas of the motorhome, and slightly sad that I’m not staying for dinner!
Many thanks to the Sahara Force India team for giving us an insightful tour of their facility.