Red Bull have ‘hidden gems’ up their sleeves due to excellent rulebook knowledge

Sam Cooper
Red Bull’s Jonathan Wheatley

Jonathan Wheatley has been with Red Bull since 2006.

Red Bull’s Jonathan Wheatley believes his obsession with studying the rulebook has allowed him to unearth some “hidden gems” to help the team.

Wheatley was one of Red Bull’s first appointments when he joined from Renault in 2006 to become sporting director and has been a mainstay on the pit wall ever since.

Not only does he guide the pit crew in their training but he is also the direct contact between the team and the FIA – and he thinks he has found an edge in that regard.

Red Bull sporting director describes what gives the team an edge

Wheatley is one of the longest serving sporting directors on the grid and suggested the “insane” way he goes about his job has helped him to discover some “hidden gems” within the rulebook that can give Red Bull the edge.

“I’ve been doing it for a long time,” he said on Red Bull’s podcast. “The way I do my job is insane in a lot of ways because I think through every single scenario that I think could happen and I look at the rules and I look at how the team might react and I try to come up with an idea.

“So I look like I’m completely in control in the time. I’ve put hours of thought into it and if I’ve done my job well, I think I’m very well prepared going into that event. Sometimes there’s a few hidden gems in there, which people have forgotten about.

“I’ve been lucky sometimes that confidence has carried me through where maybe the rules are a little bit vague.”

One of the most recent examples of Wheatley’s outside the box thinking came in Japan when Sergio Perez was seen exiting the pits having retired several laps later. The reason for this was Red Bull wanted him to serve a penalty meaning he could go into the next grand prix with a clean slate.

Of course, Wheatley is human and mistakes will happen in a 17-year stint in the role and he admitted some of those will “haunt me to my grave.”

“We’ve had radio failures,” he recalled. “So the car arrives in the pits and you didn’t know that was going to happen. recommends

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“We’ve had communication issues where the wrong set of tyres was brought out to the car and then taken back again.

“Obviously, we try to learn from all of those mistakes and they’ve been painful and we’ve put procedures and people in place to try to add software and all sorts of things to try to get around.

“But you’re a hair’s breadth away.”

On double stacks, Wheatley said confidence was key to pulling it off.

“It depends on the gap but for us, that’s a manifestation of team performance,” he said. “When we’ve done that, we’ve done that a couple of times over the last few years, with confidence and you can see the confidence in the crew.

“It’s that moment, you’ve got to shine and people just rise to the occasion and that is a fantastic moment when you execute a double stack well with a small gap between cars. If you’re in the pit crew, that’s one of the ultimate experiences.”

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