Mad Engine has had the pleasure of interviewing one of the Spanish engineers Formula 1, Xavier Ballesta, that we “has approached” into the pinnacle of motorsport.
Xavier Ballesta, already focused on next season 2015, We kindly answered some questions on 8 November coinciding with the Brazilian GP. This is the interview, everyone to learn:
LdM: ¿Xavi Might explain how you came to F1?
XB: I arrived at the Fórrmula 1 Less commonly the, from a job in the commercial automotive. I studied Aeronautical Engineering at UPC (Polytechnic University of Catalonia) and had always been passionate about Formula 1, so little by little I was majoring in aerodynamics. From there the UPC helped me get work on a project of a year with Sport Seat develop the aerodynamics of a Seat Leon WTCC. Then I worked four years as a consultant on projects for commercial use, always linked to the aerodynamic. Meanwhile knew that the most likely way to find work in F1 was to go to England, as most stables are located there. I started looking for work in British automotive companies while also tried its luck throwing my CV in all F1 teams. It was pretty hard because I spent an entire year going on interviews England, often paying me travel with my pocket money, and throughout the year I did not get any post. Finally, after more than a year of searching and insistently, an English automotive consultancy offered me a job as a senior consultant. I did not think twice. It was a good post, buenisimas conditions and wages that duplicated what he had in Spain. Just reach England, however, I was offered another job in one of the F1 teams which had sent the CV. I offered to start from scratch, as "Junior" with college students and with much lower conditions senior consultant, and yet I did not hesitate a moment. I quit my job as a consultant a few days before my supposed start date and I am tossed Adventure Formula 1. Once inside it is already easier to move from one computer to another, since F1 is very inbred. I hope to move and meet multiple computers, both large and small, and get a complete experience.
XB: I think so. I can not imagine a job in the automotive industry which has to require me 100% every day. From the viewpoint of the intensity, knowledge or "know how", and the level of technology, It is quite spectacular.
LdM: What exactly do? How does you work on the car?
XB: Soy "aerodinamicista", by aerodynamicist, as they call it in English. I dedicate to design aero parts of the car. This includes spoilers, the flat bottom and diffuser, inter alia. It is a process consisting of the following stages:
- Design of a component that I think will bring an improvement by a CAD.
- Calculating this piece in a virtual simulation (CFD) using a supercomputer that gives me an approximation of the effect of this piece on the aerodynamics of the car.
- If the simulation result is promising, component to scale for wind tunnel model is manufactured (scale usually 50% the 60%).
- Test the component in the wind tunnel.
- If the tunnel test was a success, that piece is constructed for the race car and will be added in the next race. If the part is not working as expected, is discarded.
- With lessons learned (both positive and negative), I return to design another piece and walked back into the cycle.
The effect on the car is generating “downforce”, the aerodynamic load, for pilots to be the fastest cornering. Each of us brings a few tenths per lap than just adding on a more or less competitive car as successful wind tunnel tests. However, engines this season is more important than in previous years on the competitiveness of a car.
XB: It is not as difficult or unique as it seems, but it does require effort, study and a little luck. In my case, in the field of aerodynamics, I recommend studying Aeronautical Engineering. From here, the two most favorable routes are as follows: noted as a student and access a Master of Autosport British universities offering (ideally with scholarship, because some are expensive), or start working in leading companies in the automotive industry or competition and thus gain experience.
LdM: Once inside the big tent, Is it like you imagined before entering?
XB: Yes it is true that it was highly idealized, people are very normal and in many ways this is a job like any other. What did surprise me, and negatively, It is the commercial and financial aspects of the sport, as you well say, part of the great circus.
LdM: Do you travel to major prizes or these based on the factory team?
XB: I am based in the factory where is the wind tunnel, since my day is to design and test pieces in the tunnel.
LdM: How the races live and practice as part of a team?
XB: This is one of the most magical parts for me. When you see a race, you realize you're playing a sport and you are part of a team. The races are living in a very special way. While I have colleagues who do not pay attention, as passionate about F1 since childhood I feel privileged to be following my team through television.
XB: Surely. When the next season has important rule changes, You can get to start even a year before.
LdM: Is there espionage between teams or think it's all very tight?
XB: Everything is pretty tight since workers are very cautious because of our confidentiality agreement. Yes, for great prizes each team has an array of dedicated photographers to take pictures of each of the rival cars. It's part of the game and is legal, because when you take a car to compete, you are exposing the public.
LdM: Who do you think is the best driver in the current grid?
XB: Raikkonen is a driver who has always enjoyed, is a single character on the grid. I think Hamilton is one of the fastest one-lap, while Vettel can always surprise me for good. However, I think Alonso is the most complete, it is always there. What happens is you have to see the pilots of smaller teams which are capable of a competitive car, Surprises would!
Thank you very much Xavier! And good luck on your challenges 2015 and whatever comes in F1!
Adrián Osés, Locos Engine.