Bernie Collins reveals why she swapped the F1 pitwall for Sky Sports F1

Thomas Maher
Aston Martin strategist Bernie Collins, pictured 2022.

Aston Martin's Bernie Collins, pictured 2022.

Former Aston Martin race strategist Bernie Collins says the ever-expanding F1 calendar played a key part in her decision to leave the sport.

Collins worked as a long-time race strategist for the Racing Point/Aston Martin F1 team, but left the sport behind in the middle of 2022. For this year, she has taken up a new role with Sky Sports F1 where she will offer her expert analysis as part of the broadcasting team throughout the season.

Appearing on the Sky Sports F1 podcast in the build-up to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Collins was asked about why she felt she had reached the point of wanting to leave the competitive side of Formula 1 behind.

Having flown around the world as part of the F1 circus for almost a decade, Collins revealed the expanding F1 calendar was a critical part of her thinking behind leaving the world of strategic planning.

Bernie Collins: I can’t continue to live life like I’m 21!

“I think maybe like a lot of my decisions has not necessarily been well planned out!” she laughed.

“But the 23 races became really difficult. I wanted to achieve more of a home-life balance. Particularly I think, post the COVID years, you sort of had a bit of a reset and a think about things.

“I just thought, I really enjoyed what I did before, I really enjoyed working for Aston Martin, I loved working for the team. It was just an opportunity to have a bit of a reset and try and do something a little bit different.

“So I decided, at the end of 2021, that I was going to step back and then I worked my six months’ notice to bring me to the middle of ’22. I just thought I can’t continue to live life like I’m 21 when I’m not 21! So let’s try and do something different.” recommends

Sky F1 broadcaster on the easiest driver to work with during F1 career

Yuki Tsunoda has a chance to join Red Bull…but can he take it?

F1 rumours: The only F1 team that could facilitate Honda’s official F1 2026 return

Collins said that the 23-race calendar represents a unique challenge for the F1 teams, due to the intense demands on the staff who are frequently expected to be away from home for weeks at a time, but said the teams have adapted quickly to offer greater staff rotation.

“I think when I was young I did it and I did all the holidays around it,” she said about the travel demands.

“So, you know, you go to Australia and decide to stay for a week, and it was great. There’s definitely that branch of people in the paddock that enjoy all the travelling and the time away. I definitely did that for a long time. Then you get to a point where you just think maybe it’s not [all that]…

“But I think there’s a branch of people as well, older guys, that their family are a bit more grown at home, so they don’t necessarily need to be at home so much and that’s quite a nice environment. I think teams are starting to do a much better job at it. When I started, there were 18/19 races, and that felt like quite a good number – you were never away for really more than two weeks at a time.

“Now it’s got more and more intense as time has gone on. Particularly the triple headers, I personally felt really difficult. But teams are starting to do a bit more rotation with engineers or mechanics – there’s a lot more help with the track for starters. Like we travelled with a physio that was there all the time that could help us with whatever it was, there’s a load of team doctors, there’s a paddock doctor, so there’s always people there to look after you. That side of it has gone a lot better than a few years ago, and it is getting better all the time.”

Bernie Collins ‘really enjoyed’ her time as part of the circus

Despite her desire to take a step back to establish a better work/life balance, Collins said she wouldn’t change anything about her time working in F1.

“It’s weird because you worked in it for so long that you think it’s a normal job, that’s the first bit that I find weird,” she said.

“So you’ve been working in Formula 1 talking to people in F1, all of your friendship group are people that work in F1. It’s only really when you step back from that, that you realise it’s a really special job that people are really interested in. People really want to go and do it. But it’s really easy to become like that’s just normal to you.

“Doing the travelling bit specifically is very odd. Because we do 23/22 races a year, that travelling group becomes like your family. So you travel with them on a Wednesday, you spend all week with them, you travel back with them on a Sunday night or Monday. So you spend loads of times with this group of people that you’re not necessarily chosen to be with.

“As people say, you choose your friends, but you don’t choose your colleagues. But it was a really nice atmosphere, everyone really helped each other. Sometimes it’s tough because of the environment or the heat or whatever. So yeah, it was a really lovely community.

“And it’s weird. I think the thing that people maybe don’t realise is, when you travel, a lot of us get on that flight on a Wednesday going wherever it might be in the world and all the other teams also get on a very similar flight or are in the airport at a similar time. So you get to know lots of people from the other teams as well that you chat to, and it becomes like this big circus travelling community together.

“We see lots of people so I really enjoyed that. There’s a lot of pressure, obviously, you’re trying to do a really important job when it comes to Sunday. You’re trying to get it right for the whole team, especially on the pit wall, you feel like if we make the wrong call on a pitstop, the hundreds of people in the factory that have worked to get this car as quick as it is are really affected by that.

“So it is like this sort of pressure environment. But I really enjoyed working in it and enjoyed travelling around the world, seeing the different communities and embracing the different tracks. A lot of tiredness, a lot of grumpiness at times. But yeah, it was really good!”