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Meet engineering student Marcello D’Aprile. He’s a 21-year old mechanical engineering student at Imperial College, London. And we’ve thrown him at the deep end in the big, wide world of Formula One.
11:30am, Saturday 15 July 2017
Looking back on yesterday, my mind is a real scramble. From the moment I arrived at Silverstone at 7:30 on Friday morning, to leaving the track 12 hours later, so much happened. And then this morning I awoke to the realisation I was getting to do it all again, today!
I suppose, in many ways, the most memorable part of the whole experience so far is just how normal everything – and everybody – is. I’m out the back of the Renault Sport Formula One Team garage and Bob Bell strolls by, says hello and asks how it’s going. We’re old friends – I’ve known him since Monday. I’m just chatting with Jolyon Palmer and casually mention that I chose to do a presentation project at university on the evolution of energy recovery systems, specifically the way the MGU-H and MGU-K units operate (stay with it!). He goes on to explain how hybrid technology makes current era cars quite different to old school F1 cars.
Did I just say those things? Or did I dream them? I think I’ve become too used to life in the F1 paddock, too quickly! I’ve also become a bit of a Renault Sport Formula One Team fan, too. In FP3, Hulkenberg has gone fifth fastest using a new floor upgrade, introduced for the first time this weekend. Can’t wait for qualifying…
3:30pm, Saturday 15 July 2017
OK, so don’t misunderstand me: just because I’ve been at Silverstone for two days, I’m not imagining I’m suddenly an expert in all matters Formula One. Nor, more specifically, all matters Renault Sport Formula One.
But the engineer in me really does like to think we may have seen a performance shift for the Enstone-based team at this race. Let’s examine the facts: the team has brought a significant upgrade to Silverstone; a completely new floor for the car. Even though they only had time to produce one for Silverstone, both drivers tried it in Free Practice and both agreed it was a huge improvement.
Nico Hulkenberg is the guy who got the nod to use it for this weekend’s race and what does he go and do? Qualifies sixth, his (and the team’s) best performance all season. And even without the upgrade, Jolyon Palmer qualified just outside the top 10 (11th). Happy days.
It’s another example of how being here this weekend, witnessing how ‘live’ engineering really unfolds is just an incredible experience. Can tomorrow be the day that both Renault Sport Racing cars finish in the points, this season?