I WOULD LIKE A CAREER WITHIN THE MOTORSPORT INDUSTRY - HOW CAN I ACHIEVE THIS?
For engineering based roles within F1, there are two traditional routes which you can choose to take. The base line for each of these routes is good grades at GCSE. This includes in particular maths and sciences, as well as design and technology or mechanics if you have such options. This solid foundation will provide the opportunity to go on to study an Apprenticeship, alongside a HNC, or HND qualification, or alternatively A Levels. It will also help you to determine how successful you might be at completing these key subjects at a higher level of education.
I WOULD LIKE A CAREER WITHIN THE MOTORSPORT INDUSTRY - WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT AREAS?
As a motorsport engineer you could work in either design, testing, production or racing. Your duties in the first three areas would include: assessing new ideas by looking at performance, strength, costs and safety designing prototypes with computer-aided design (CAD) software testing components and bodywork to increase a vehicle's performance testing working models on the track before vehicles go into full production building production models and carrying out quality control checks 'finishing' vehicles with the team's colours and sponsorship logos.
At race meetings, your duties would include: setting up the cars to suit track and weather conditions monitoring engine speed and other data during races fine tuning the car and sending technical instructions to the driver carrying out ‘after-tests’ on the cars after races to look for signs of damage.
After races, you would attend debriefings with the race team to look at what worked well and where to make improvements.
I AM A GCSE STUDENT AND WOULD LIKE ADVICE ON THE BEST ROUTE TO ENHANCE MY OPPORTUNITY TO ACHIEVE A CAREER IN MOTORSPORT?
We would advise you first and foremost to give your best at school, whichever career path you chose. It’s also important to learn, particularly for a career in F1, that most often success comes from sustained hard work as opposed to occasional displays of brilliance.
Specifically though I would advise you follow the numerate disciplines for your GCSEs and A-Levels i.e. Maths (essential), Physics, Chemistry, Design & Technology, IT etc. You should eventually aim to do a degree in an engineering discipline i.e. Mechanical, Automotive or Aeronautical. As for choice of University or college, with Cambridge, Imperial, Brunel, Bristol, Loughborough and Southampton being popular high-end choices for F1 hopefuls.
It is also important to get practical experience, so try to use your vacations or gap year etc to get some. This could be paid employment in a garage or workshop or even voluntary labour for a junior race team. When you get to University joining the Formula Student Team is a great way of getting really good hands-on experience, as well as being a lot of fun.
WOULD THE APPRENTICESHIP OR UNIVERSITY ROUTE SUIT ME?
For those that are more practically minded an Apprenticeship is a possible route as an alternative to A Levels and Degrees. Such opportunities are limited throughout the Motorsport industry, as well as throughout the engineering industry in general. Apprenticeships in the broader engineering industry are also limited, but this is a broader route you could consider before moving to the Motorsport industry. The better grades you have, the more opportunities will open up to you. In addition to good grades at school, such initiatives as F1 in Schools and Formula schools, relevant work experience, part time jobs or related hobbies such as mechanics or karting will also help your chances of securing such limited opportunities. The more you can demonstrate your determination and passion to be involved in Motorsport through the contents of your CV, the more possibility you will have of securing an Apprenticeship with an employer who can help you achieve your goal. At Williams we currently have 5 Apprentices on 3/4 year courses, this is 1% of our total workforce. We receive in excess of 100 CVs or letters each year about Apprenticeships, and we are only able to commit to these 5 places, every 3/4 years, or 300/400 CVs and letters. This demonstrates how distinctive your application or letter needs to be to stand out.