Meet the Crew: Mahindra Operations Manager Claudio Corradini
Posted on: 05 April, 2017
You create your own identity!
At the age of 17, while most of us were still deciding our future, one young Italian lad already had it all figured out.
Claudio Corradini had a dream – to work with Ferrari and he wouldn't settle for anything lesser. From being the youngest member of the team back then in 1981, Claudio has come a long way to leading Operations at our Formula E Team.
Here's an up-close and personal chat with Claudio Corradini, our Operations Manager.
How did you begin your career in motorsport?
I trained to be a car mechanic at a technical college near my home in Modena, Italy. I grew up 6km from the home of Ferrari and it was always my dream to work there. When I left the college in 1981 at the age of 17 years, I applied in Ferrari. I was doubtful of finding work, as I would have to leave for national service when I turned 18 and employers were hesitant to hire people my age in those days. I was not targeting a job in racing but Ferrari hired me and I was put straight into the F1 team. As the youngest and least experienced, I was given all the dirty jobs, of course, but it was the policy of Ferrari to grow talent and experience from within so I was very glad to have such a wonderful opportunity to learn from the best.
I was very glad to have such a wonderful opportunity to learn from the best.
With so many years in Formula One, you must have worked with many legendary drivers. How was that experience?
I was lucky to work with some of the best drivers of their era. I worked with Gilles Villeneuve, Andretti, Berger, Prost, Alesi and many more in my time at Ferrari and then worked with the great Michael Schumacher when I moved to Benetton as well as Herbert and Fisichella. I finished my time in F1 at BAR & Honda, where I worked with drivers including Panis, Button, and Sato and of course Jacques Villeneuve. It was a pleasure to work with both father and son. Gilles remains a hero of mine and it was a joy to see Jacques return to single-seater racing in 2015.
How did you move to Formula E?
I left F1 in 2005 and worked in other series including World Series by Renault. By 2013, I had planned to retire from motorsport and had just opened a little coffee shop in Valencia when the offer came to join a Formula E team (NextEV). It was fascinating to join at the beginning of something groundbreaking and it turned out to be one of the best achievements of my life as we went on to win the first ever FIA Formula E Drivers' Championship with Nelson Piquet Jr. I was the first person to win both theFormula One and Formula E World Driver Championships, which makes me very proud.
I was the first person to win both the Formula One and Formula E World Driver Championships, which makes me very proud.
What are your responsibilities during Formula E race weekends?
As Operations Manager, my duties are mainly on the logistics of the weekend. Working on temporary street circuits with limited space and limited time, you have to be very organized and make sure everything is where it needs to be. Because of my background, I also assist the mechanics on race day. Race day is a busy and important day. Practice, qualifying and racing happens in a single day. We have a fantastic team. When you may suddenly need to repair a car very quickly or make an unusual repair during a race such as a nose or wheel change, this is when experience kicks in and is needed most.
When you may suddenly need to repair a car very quickly or make an unusual repair during a race such as a nose or wheel change, this is when experience kicks in and is needed most.
What are your responsibilities as Operations Manager between race weekends?
Between races, I work at Mahindra Racing's Formula E base in Barcelona. I plan the logistics and operations of the team for upcoming events. It's my responsibility to make sure that we have all the parts and materials we will need for races and also for the development of next year's car. I also oversee the team's movement for races and for anyone travelling to our test track, to simulator sessions and to our workshop in Donington Park.
What's the best aspect of working in motorsport?
More than any other career, motorsport demands that you be passionate and dedicated to succeed. That implies that you will love the job to be there in the first place. Motorsport also offers unique opportunities for travel and a sense of team spirit which I think can't be replicated anywhere else.
What do you enjoy most about working with Mahindra Racing?
I was lucky to reach the pinnacle of motorsport with one of the most famous brands very early in my career and it would be easy to think, 'what next?' The reality is that there is so much to gain from being part of a new team and I am lucky to be a part of Mahindra. The early years of a new team can be so exciting and every gain in performance and improved result is very satisfying. Team spirit is also very high when you have such an important task to complete from the ground up. Mahindra is truly an Indian racing team, which we have not really seen before. Mahindra's Indian heart is evident in the team and we are proud to represent the country, competing on the world stage and growing the brand of the manufacturer that is quite new to racing. We have an opportunity to create something very new, and because Mahindra is a manufacturer, we will have the pleasure of seeing the technology we are developing find its way into future road cars that will be affordable and reliable. That is very important.
Mahindra is truly an Indian racing team, which we have not really seen before.
Mahindra Racing Formula E Team
What's the most difficult thing about working in motorsport?
The most difficult thing is the long hours that are required in order to contribute to a successful team. You cannot think of motorsport as a nine to five job. It's not going to happen. But as I have said, if you are here and you are prepared to work hard, your passion will carry you through the tough times.
You cannot think of motorsport as a nine to five job.
How is working in Formula E different to working in other series?
When you work in motorsport, you realise that the method and procedure in working on any race car is the same. Ultimately you are going through the same steps and the skill of the mechanic allows him or her to apply these to different technologies, different mechanical layouts and different time commitments. Formula E is very new and requires a different technical language but as mechanics, we can always strip this down to the familiar steps and procedures. The main difference from an operations point of view is the demands of working on street circuits. We have a lot less space to work with than you would have at a traditional circuit and a lot less time to prepare when we arrive. We also work most of the time out of temporary structures, which in itself is new. But after two seasons, we know what we are doing. Within five hours of the end of a race, we can have the four cars stripped and boxed along with all our garage materials and ready to go to the next destination.
What are your other interests outside motorsport?
I am a very passionate photographer. I have been taking photos all my life, capturing my time in racing and also the places I have been to. I try to travel and explore as often as I can and I will happily spend days waiting to take the perfect photo. I like to travel to different countries but my favourite places that I return to often are Banff National Park in Canada and Torres Del Paine in Chile.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to do your job one day?
So much about motorsport boils down to perseverance and dedication. To find your way into motorsport, you need to gather experience where you can and be willing to knock on doors and turn up at race events offering to help. Bit by bit you will build up experience, contacts and the skills needed to take it further.
The perseverance, the dedication and the passion – there's no standard skill-mix that can prep you for a job this immersive. With a life like Claudio's, one has to wonder – does the future of technology shape your career or do your dreams?
To the passioneer who wouldn't settle – hear,hear, Claudio!
Stay tuned for more from #TeamTalk.