Work / Life: Martin Tolliday

A day in the life of…
Martin Tolliday, Chief Designer

What are you responsible for in your job? What does that involve, what do you do, who with?
This is a big question. I’m the Chief Designer, responsible for the coming season’s car. Since early on this year I have been working on the R.S.19, which will debut in winter testing in 2019. We started work in February, which initially involved a high-level review of the previous season performance and consideration of planned regulation changes to establish a clear technical direction. In these early stages there is close dialogue with our aero department, VPG (vehicle performance group) and the engine guys, which continues throughout the car design. Once the basic car layout is established I then spend more time with our design team to discuss how to optimise the direction of the concepts discussed earlier.

Describe a typical day in your job.
Most of my day revolves around group technical discussions to look at how best to tackle a particular design challenge. This is invariably challenging and will frequently involve delicate trade-offs, but it is always interesting and what I enjoy the most about the job. Of course there are many other more tedious meetings and hundreds of emails to get through each day.

How did you get the job? What is your background and why did you take this job?
After getting my engineering degree I moved straight into a career as a designer. I worked on mobile cranes, flight simulators and Group C racing cars. My first job in F1 started way back in 1992 with Benetton. It was a very easy decision for me to join Benetton as the Group C work had been so much fun.

What is your most memorable moment…
Michael Schumacher winning in 1994 and 1995 was great, but I was only a junior designer then so Fernando’s win in 2005 was the most important for me. It was my first year as assistant chief designer, so keeping the car reliable and the performance updates coming through was my responsibility. It was very satisfying to be able to take the title at the end of the year.

And the worst part of your job…?
The total commitment can, at times, be tough. It can be seven days a week, plus the mental hours required. I would not do it if I didn’t love it!

The best part of your job then…
Everything else…it’s challenging, fascinating and good fun.

What do you do after work? How do you unwind?
I’m a fitness nut so at the weekends I play a lot of tennis and go off road biking.

What do you do before going to sleep?
Unfortunately I’m often late back so will eat dinner and have a chat with my wife.

Plan B… If you weren’t doing your job, what would you have done instead?
I would definitely be designing something, but I don’t know what. I love working in motor racing so maybe another type of car.