Ferrari mechanic recalls high-speed pressure on the job
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Serhat Akbas has a relentless desire for power and speed. He was a mechanic for the Ferrari Formula-One team for four-and-a-half years.
Akbas says the team sought him after learning of his growing reputation in his native Turkey.
Every day brought new challenges and long hours, but Akbas focused on diagnostics--keeping the engine in top condition.
"The engine is so tight and so high compression that, once you finish the race, they plug the car into life support like hot coolant, oil and transmission."
Otherwise, Akbas says you run the risk that the engine will seize and never run again, which is crucial in F1.
Akbas says teams were only allowed eight engines a season when he was with Ferrari.
"One blown up motor can cost you a lot of money at the end," he said. "One point is millions of dollars--millions of dollars--for the team."
All eyes are on the Ferrari team right now. While Renault's Sebastian Vettel took first in Japan, Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Kamui Kobayashi placed second and third respectively.
While engines cannot be modified during the race season, Akbas says mechanics can make minor tweaks to the car's handling, especially in corners. Most tracks make it very difficult to pass.
Circuit of The Americas designers made several turns extra wide to allow for a competitive edge, but Akbas still expects it to be tricky for drivers.
"There are two or three corners where you are going to see some accidents," Akbas said.
Akbas says he never dreamed of having a Formula One track in his backyard. He owns an auto repair shop in Northwest Austin.