Hands up, who shares a car, possibly with a loved one? When you get in it the fuel tank is empty, classic FM is on the radio and the seat is in the wrong place. That can be a real problem on the morning commute and by the time you’ve got to work the seat is almost in the right position, the tank has fuel but classic FM is still on the radio.
Imagine a similar scenario, but this time it’s 2.00 am on Sunday morning and instead of the daily commute it’s your stint in the #99 Aston Martin competing in the Le Mans 24 hour race. Ok, you have staff to sort out: the fuel issue and tyres, there’s no Classic FM, just your race engineer burbling in your ear, but the seat is in the wrong position. Instead of your commute you have until the wheels start moving to get it right. This is the real problem that Fernando Rees and Alex MacDowall face on every hand over.
I caught up with Alex and Fernando on the grid at Le Mans and asked the question: Does size matter? Alex is a good 30 cm taller than Fernando and both assured me with a wry grin that size doesn’t matter. So I probed them further. How can that be with seat fitting and safety harnesses, roll cages and all the technology to keep them safe? Surely they can’t compromise on something as fundamental as seat position. The answer was remarkably simple just like the Mondeo thundering up and down the M6: the seat position is adjustable. All the way forward with a thick seat liner for Fernando and all the way back with a thin seat liner for Alex.
Alex goes on to explain that some cars have adjustable steering columns and some have moveable pedal boxes all of which can be set in seconds during the fury of a pit stop. The FIA don’t like seat liners because the driver isn’t actually as secure as he should be sitting on a liner and not in the seat, so moves will follow to introduce fixed seats with no liners but adjustable steering columns and pedal boxes to allow for height differences in drivers.
So I think we can all rest safely in the knowledge with sympathy and adaptations, size doesn’t matter, when you drive an Aston Martin.
Written by: John Mountney