A day in the life of…
Rico Penteado, Trackside Operations Manager (Power Unit)
What are you responsible for in your job? What does that involve, what do you do, who with?
I am responsible for anything related to Renault power unit operations on track across all Renault-powered teams. That means looking at the composition of the team and its logistics, that is, who will do what on which team and at which races. In parallel I manage the hardware usage and allocation, so deciding on anything from the engine garage equipment to power unit allocation. It is a very interesting job as it is very technical, but I have a lot of personal contact with people at the same time.
Describe a typical day in your job.
As with almost any F1 job, mine is very cyclical and stays more or less the same race after race. If I describe a Saturday, which is my favourite day, I arrive at track at the end of the curfew, which is generally around 09h00. I check my emails (normally not much since we’ve left not far from curfew the day before…). I grab breakfast and then I go for a check-in with Red Bull and McLaren before P3. If anything goes wrong, I pop in to decide what to do next and get everything ready for Qualifying, which has to be the highlight of the racing weekend. Once qualifying has finished, I go for a final garage visit and then, thanks to the Parc Fermé, I can go out with one of my crews for a beer.
How did you get the job? What is your background and why did you take this job?
I came over to France from Brazil in 2000 as a mechanical engineer with a master’s degree on combustion engines. I had one single idea in mind: be a F1 engine race engineer, which I was very lucky and grateful to Renault to be able to do for 148 races. After that, due to the complexity of the new power units introduced in 2014, Renault changed the way we operated on track and asked me to take the lead in this movement, pushing my counter to more than 200 races.
What is your most memorable moment…
It is difficult to pick one from my favourite three. I was in Budapest 2003 for the first Renault F1 Team win and Interlagos in 2005 for the first Drivers’ Championship, but the factory celebration after the Chinese GP back in 2005 (first Constructors Title) was huge. It was such an immense and powerful feeling of being part of a winning team!
And the worst part of your job…?
There are many ways to get disappointed in F1. It is horrible to stop a car on track, to finish outside the points, to travel 10 days and work immeasurably, only to get involved in a first lap accident. But the magic of this sport is that all these are in our hands as a team.
The best part of your job then…
Definitely the podium. I love to stay far behind the crowd, eventually climb up the pit wall, and be able to see the joy in the faces of our team members! Very rewarding moments!
What do you do after work? How do you unwind?
I love learning and work on some complex DIY (Do It Yourself) projects like drones and some other 3D printed toys. Right now, I’m working on an electric-powered hydrofoil surf board that flies at 30 kph above the water.
What do you do before going to sleep?
As we travel a lot, I try to keep social contact with my family and friends. I read all WhatsApp messages, I send them some pictures, I call my wife … but time is short and we actually don’t have much spare time if you want to sleep more than six hours per night!