- The man behind Button's title
Who on earth is ... Andy Shovlin?Laurence Edmondson December 8, 2009
You may not recognise the name but you'll almost certainly recognise the voice. Andy "Shov" Shovlin is the man who talked Jenson Button to the 2009 world championship, communicating by radio from the pit wall in order to feed Button with information to get the very best from the car.
To give him his official title, Shovlin is the senior race engineer for the No.1 Mercedes/Brawn car, and as such is required to make crucial calls throughout a grand prix - from agonising over car setup to making split-second decisions on race strategy. Button has listed him as one of the key figures behind his championship success and Shovlin was the man who took the full brunt of Button "singing" We are the Champions on his victory lap in Brazil.
His F1 career has been exclusively played out at one team. After graduating with a PhD in evaluating body roll and suspension settings on military vehicles he was offered a job at BAR in 1998, applying the same theories to a Formula One car. Although he was used to working with 30-tonne trucks, his talent was quickly recognised and in 2000 he was working as deputy race engineer on Olivier Panis' car.
By 2004 he was promoted to chief engineer on Button's car, having first worked with the Briton in 2003. The pair instantly gelled and ten podiums were their reward in a groundbreaking season for the team. He stuck with Button and Honda through two dreadful years in 2007 and 2008 and then, like the rest of the team, faced redundancy when the Japanese manufacturer announced it was leaving the sport. Ross Brawn stepped in at the 11th hour and gave Shovlin and Button the crack at the title they so desperately wanted, after two years at the back of the grid.
It wasn't all plain sailing though, and Shovlin became something of a TV personality on the BBC's coverage as he tried to explain why Button's relative pace dropped off mid-season. Low tyre temperatures and instability under braking were as much his problem as they were Button's. However, the pair pulled through and wrapped up the title with a race to go in fantastic fashion - cue dodgy singing of Queen classics.
Shovlin now faces life without Button as he is not expected to follow his driver of seven years to McLaren. Nico Rosberg will probably be his next challenge but it remains to be seen whether he will work the same magic he managed with Button in 2009.
Laurence Edmondson is an assistant editor on ESPNF1