#DrivenBy: Marius Meier-Diedrich
Lucas Auer pits from the lead. His crew are in place, wheel guns at the ready. At the same time, Marco Wittmann heads into the pits in second place. Just a few seconds later Lucas is back in the race. With a solid stop, he and his team were able to defend his brief stay in P1 at the Nürburgring. “I found that one of the most exciting things that happened last year,” says Marius Meier-Diedrich, who will be race engineer to the Austrian again this year.
But Marius is not just responsible for ensuring that one of the two Pink Panthers in the field is set up properly, he also has to manage pit stops at HWA. He allocates roles to the pit stop crew, conducts their training and takes care of technical issues as well as equipment. “I have to ensure that our pit stops are quick,” he says. The biggest challenge of his job is to see that everything comes together at the right moment. “You have to be very focused, keep calm and not lose track of what’s happening, otherwise, you could make wrong decisions.”
His role can be compared to some extent with that of a football coach – both in managing his driver and pit crew. “Working in conjunction with the performance engineer, the race engineer is actually a bit like the driver’s coach,” says Marius in agreement. Racing is definitely a team sport.
During the pit stop, all eyes are on the mechanics, putting enormous pressure on them. “Everybody deals with the pressure differently,” says Markus Spielmann, lead mechanic on Gary Paffett’s car. “I usually close my eyes, breathe deeply a couple of times, see the car approaching, go into automatic pilot and do my job.”
The pit stops will play an even more important role this season, since only eight mechanics per stop will be allowed under the new regulations and only two wheel guns can be used – one per side. So physical fitness will be even more important than ever before. “You have to run from front to back, or vice versa, which makes it even more exhausting, because, whereas previously, we only had one wheel to change, we now have two,” says Spielmann. For this reason, the mechanics practise pit stops every week and also do fitness training, but their hard work can pay off: “It feels amazing when you gain a place in the pits against a competitor.”
Family help Marius gain the necessary distance from his stressful job as Race Engineer/Pit Stop Manager: “Family are important to me and are a great way to counterbalance the rigours of my job,” he says. “I’m pleased that I’ve practically turned my hobby into my job and don’t need any other hobbies apart from my family. Work and family actually take up my whole life.”
You see, motor racing has always been a way of life for Marius. Thinking perhaps of his own one-year-old daughter, he tells us: “As a child, I used to go to the racetrack with my father to watch the various races, including those for vintage cars. It’s just great to experience loud, fast cars out on the circuit and see how the drivers do battle. I find it all simply amazing.” Being able to represent his team makes him enormously proud: “To have this huge responsibility and represent the brand with the star is the fulfilment of the dream of a lifetime.”