In this series we introduce the people who work in F1 who you never normally get a chance to see on TV. Today, however, we feature someone who is often spotted after each race: the master of the podium ceremony Alexander Molina.
My job is…
My job is the master of ceremony, that’s how they call it at the FIA. Just like they give super licences for drivers, they also issue them for key people in the FIA organisation. And one of them is for the master of ceremonies.
Most of the time I work for Formula One Management, but the podium part of my job is an FIA role, so I do it under the FIA super licence. It means that for those 10 minutes I work for the FIA.
My race weekend schedule...
Busy, between two jobs. If we just talk about the podium part, my schedule is mainly focused on Sunday. Before that, I have to establish what is happening on that Sunday. So first of all we try to understand which dignitaries are going to present the trophies on the podium.
I go to the organisers of the event, and we look together to who is coming to the event. Obviously, sometimes there are last minute changes, so we need to adapt. But at some point we have to make a decision. After that I just make sure it goes the way it was approved, and that everyone is there to present the trophies. Plus ensure that the trophies themselves are matching to what we have agreed.
Russian Grand Prix podium
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
You always have to make sure everything stays within the protocol. I do all the support races before Formula 1 as well. It’s a good practice for everybody. It is not a one person job, we have a team, and we have to make sure everybody knows what they have to do. Even though it’s always the same procedure, we have to double-check everything is right.
Most important thing in my job…
There are two parts. First, there is a protocol. There is a sporting side of the ceremony, which includes a trophy presentation and national anthem. This part is very regulated.
Then there is a show, which is champagne, music and all that. For me one of the most important things is to try to keep those two things separated. I need to be sure the protocol is followed, and once the sporting side is finished, drivers can have fun. That is one the things they also have to understand.
Timing is very important. The trophy presentation is something you really don’t want to be interrupted. When drivers arrive at parc fermé, an FIA representative grabs them and brings them to the weight procedure. After that they go straight to the back of the podium, where I meet them, and from there they go to the podium itself.
Three tools I can't do my job without…
First is the protocol. As I said before, guidelines for the sporting side are very strict. Everything in F1 is about rules. We have to make sure everyone follows them. I always brief the dignitaries. I explain to them what they are going to do, how they are going to do it, when we play national anthem and when it’s time to present trophies.
Obviously, for most of them it’s a first time up there. They are in the spotlight, so they need to have the confidence of knowing what they are going to do. It’s pretty simple, but we need to make sure nothing goes wrong. I’m there to help them. There are always marks where they should stand. I tell them where they need to go and so on.
The second thing is my tie. It is also very important. And then of course I need a team behind me.
People I'm always in contact with…
There are operational people, who are setting up everything; TV people, who are obviously directing everything from the TV perspective; and there are sporting people, like in race control. I need to make sure that if there is a last minute change that I’m aware of it. I have the radio and I’m always in direct contact with all parties involved.
The podium ceremony
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
When not at the track...
I work on preparation for the next events. Three months before each race we need to get all the trophies’ proposals, and then we go through the approval process. We want the trophies to match our guidelines. It’s very important. The trophy needs to be prestigious, you want drivers and teams to be proud of them. So we need to make sure they are always at the level we want them to be.
I always say it is a team work, so if I do my job well, it should not be a problem to replace me. The next person should just pick the protocol up and be able to follow it. So I’m just the visible part of a long chain.
Formula 1 is…
I started working here in 1997 and I’ve done the podium ceremonies since China 2009. For me Formula 1 is all about precision and attention to detail. It is like that for the teams, and it is like that for me as well when I’m doing my job.