The behind-the-scenes trip started in the huge and very impressive Energy Station, which is spread over three floors and features dining areas, bars, balconies, offices and the driver’s own private rooms.
The lavishly-furnished structure was designed to be an open and neutral area where the paddock can chill out, where teams can meet and where everyone is welcome.
As you walk in, you are immediately confronted by the downstairs bar. To the left and right are seating areas for team members to eat and re-energise before, between and after sessions.
Behind the walls are the rooms that are hidden from public view. Towards the front of the building on the right is the senior management’s office, where you will normally find team principal Christian Horner when he is not in the garage or sitting on the pit wall.
Behind are the communications offices and the driver rooms. Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo each have two spaces: a prep room with bathroom facilities and an area for relaxing, which contains a sofa, desk and storage space.
Around 35 people work in the impressive facility over a race weekend. The second floor is where VIPs, media, sponsors, partners and team guests are catered for and can chill out. It features balconies at the front and back, with the former giving a great view of the paddock.
This is where most of the team’s parties and events are held. It also features a bar and a ‘theatre style’ kitchen. The top level is where the very, very important people go to dine, as well as being the location for important meetings.
After taking a look around the Energy Station, I was then given a tour of the ‘Tree House’, which is located just behind the team’s pit garage. On the bottom floor there is a covered space where the tyres are prepared, while the two pods on either side are where parts are stored. On the top floor are the engineer meeting rooms.
Next up, I got the chance to take a peek around the team’s garage at the Red Bull Ring. I did not expect to be allowed in there so close to the race but – unbelievably – I was and it was a fantastic insight. At the back of the garage there are separate areas for refuelling, composites and data monitoring, where engineers from the Milton Keynes-based outfit and Renault assess the information from both RB10s, as well as a few other preparation spaces.
Ricciardo’s garage is on the left and Vettel’s is on the right. Each driver has a number one mechanic, as well as one for the front of the car, one for the back and a floating mechanic. There is also a chief mechanic. The pit crew compromises of 20 people, with both sides of the garage coming together to complete a stop.
In the garage there is also a viewing area for VIPs, with TV screens and headphones to listen in on the radio calls between the team and the driver. It was incredible to get a chance to take a look around and see Red Bull Racing’s 2014 cars up close and personal.
The bodywork was off the cars while I was in the garage as the team prepared them for the 71-lap race later that day. It was fantastic to get the chance to look at the cars in their ‘naked’ state – if you will – and to see in the flesh how complicated these pieces of technical brilliance are. A big thanks to Katie from the team for showing me around, it was certainly an experience I will never forget.
Images copyright Richland F1 and Red Bull/Getty Images