In fact, it’s the FIA’s F1 security automobile driver Bernd Maylander. The 51-year-old from Waiblingen, within the southwest of Germany, has the ice-cold veins required to maintain F1’s racers in examine when issues go off the rails.
Maylander is in his twenty fourth season of driving the security automobile and has solely missed a few races since his debut in 2000 – together with Monaco in 2001, after he fractured his heel falling over a wall whereas returning to his lodge forward of a DTM race at Oschersleben. A race-winner within the 1997 FIA GT championship who conquered the Nurburgring 24 Hours in 2000, Maylander has turn out to be properly versed within the security automobile process through the years.
He explains: “The 2 calls are ‘security automobile standby’ and ‘security automobile deployed’. And the second they are saying ‘deployed’ I’m on the observe, discover the chief – then I get additional info if there’s an accident, possibly I’ve to remain proper or left at a nook, I get informed if there’s particles.”
Maylander is partnered within the security automobile by Richard Darker, an FIA technical assistant.
“I be a part of him for extra weekends than with my spouse!” Maylander chuckles. “We’re all the time prepared, identical parking place on the finish of the pitlane, fully dressed, helmets on, and we get all our info from the race director – all the time able to go!
“However, for positive, there are some moments the place you decelerate, your blood strain comes down after the beginning, and we now have the stay feed on two displays within the automobile, so we now have the timing and the GPS tracker to observe all of the automobiles on observe. If a automobile crashes we get to know the g-force that automobile has sustained within the impression.”
As soon as deployed, Maylander turns into the FIA’s eyes on observe, as operating up entrance places him in a privileged place in relation to relating suggestions.
Maylander is all the time on stand-by throughout stay periods to organize for an incident and is in fixed contact with race management
Picture by: Mark Sutton
“Data is all the things on this job, however ultimately it’s the radio that tells you to go,” he says. “I’ve my plan, I do know what to do, however some other modifications come by way of the radio. We report again to race management as properly, comparable to in rain situations. However even when I recommend ‘I feel that is pink flag’ as a result of it’s too moist, the choice remains to be as much as race management.
“I’m just one one who can see what’s happening in entrance, however they’ve many extra inputs. Specifically, I’m in a great place to identify any particles on the observe, typically the TV may miss them. So we’ve improved through the years.”
Maylander’s busiest day of all got here within the wild, rain-impacted 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix. On that day, he led the sphere for 34 laps.
“Now we all know, if we’re doing greater than 5 laps, for positive it is sensible to pink flag and restart,” he says. “The teamwork has additionally modified – once I began to work on the FIA we had eight individuals on the observe and proper now we’re 60.”
Aston Martin joins the group
Mercedes was the only real provider of the security automobile till Aston Martin joined the programme in 2021, when duties turned shared between the 2 automobiles.
“The primary occasion was at Mugello through the Covid period with the Vantage F1 Version,” says Maylander. “It’s an excellent sportscar. Its suspension is certainly not the identical, so the set-up is a bit bit completely different [to the more powerful Mercedes].
“From the primary second, I felt excellent and it’s a pleasant driveable automobile. In fact, all drivers would really like extra energy, however with a security automobile it’s not so vital for us. It’s in regards to the driveability, security and our instruments contained in the automobile – that’s crucial factor for my job.
“I felt snug from day one. In fact, the 2 merchandise from the 2 manufacturers are completely different, however on the finish of the day I can solely say optimistic issues about each.”
The Aston Martin Vantage F1 Version is a four-litre, twin-turbo, V8-powered coupe producing 528hp, a 0-62mph time of three.6s and a prime pace of 195mph. It options an extra-large rear wing with Gurney flap to provide a “very good stability” – in response to Maylander.
Maylander offers Motorsport.com editor Bradley a tour of the security automobile
Picture by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
“I actually prefer it,” he says. “I’d sat in a single model’s mannequin for greater than 20 years, then alongside got here the Aston Martin and my first thought was, ‘Let’s see how good this automobile is’ – I’d by no means pushed one earlier than in my life.”
The place this automobile actually differs from the mannequin you should buy for the road is within the trunk, which is filled with digital system management items, a Wi-Fi router, GPS tracker [exactly the same as fitted to the F1 cars], radio methods and a knowledge logger.
“All of the gear we now have contained in the automobile, communications and Wi-Fi methods, GPS mapping, TVs for us to comply with the race,” he says. “We’ve all this help inside the security automobile, and we run it every single day within the morning to examine it’s all working.”
4 cameras – two on the rear wing and two mounted on prime of the roof, guarantee Maylander has an excellent view of the all-important F1 automobiles following behind. His steering wheel and the console is commonplace, however with some additional switchgear for the security automobile lights and radio (together with a backup) and displays that present the stay TV feed, GPS driver tracker and stay timing.
The Vantage has a regular-sized gas tank, and two automobiles (4 in whole, together with the medical automobiles) are introduced to each occasion – and so they alternate their use between F1 and the FIA-sanctioned assist races.
Maylander admits they should have the engine operating in the course of the races, to maintain its electrical methods and air-con powered up “so we’re not in a sauna for 2 hours”. He often will get by means of one set of tyres per automobile per weekend, however this will stretch to 2 units if there’s quite a lot of motion.
He provides: “We’ve 4 mechanics with us, taking care of tyres, brakes – I feel between them they might repair all the things.”
Regardless of his important function, Maylander hardly ever will get a highlight put upon on him – however Max Verstappen’s “turtle” jibe in regards to the Vantage in final 12 months’s Australian Grand Prix, when he publicly claimed it was lapping too slowly to permit him to maintain enough tyre temperatures, actually stung a bit.
Verstappen was vocal in his criticism of the security automobile at Melbourne Park in 2022 – Maylander says he can all the time drive sooner, however there are downsides of doing so
Picture by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images
“The primary 10-15 years, there was by no means any complaining from the drivers,” says Maylander on the subject. “However we had been from a distinct time. Particularly since 2022, with the brand new F1 automobiles with greater tyres, then we heard some issues, and I perceive their facet however they should see our facet too.
“Once we, the FIA, deploy the security automobile, it’s all about security first. In the event you ever assume out of your seat within the grandstand or in your couch at house, ‘Why is he driving so gradual?’, there’s a motive for that.
“I’d say, 90 per cent of the time, I may drive faster. However there’s a background for this. Generally the sphere wants bunching up, typically there’s an accident we now have to maneuver round.
“In Baku, we modified it a bit bit so I drove faster, however then you definately get extra laps behind the security automobile, so there are all the time optimistic and adverse impacts, and we will’t make everybody glad. I can perceive it from the motive force’s facet, if they’re dropping efficiency and tyre strain, I get that they’re in race mode with hypertension!”
Maylander displays with delight on his function and doesn’t see himself hanging up his helmet any time quickly.
“These 24 years have run like hell,” he laughs. “And, sure, it’s modified quite a bit, however the fundamentals are nonetheless the identical. So, I’m prepared for the following 10 or 15 years.
“I nonetheless get nervous on the grid. And I nonetheless have quite a lot of enjoyable, and it helps to have companions like Aston Martin. Generally I really feel a bit like James Bond!”
Maylander is happy with his function because the FIA’s security automobile driver and has no plans to name it a day
Picture by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images