60 Second Interview: Formula 1 Engineer


Formula 1 cars on the circuit

career in engineering can take you all kinds of places - from constructing gravity defying buildings to drilling under the earth or designing one of the fastest cars on the planet!

We managed to grab 60 seconds with a Formula 1 Engineer to talk about what it's like to work building world-famous racing cars and how to get into F1. Unfortunately his job is so top secret that he couldn't tell us which team he works for, but he does spend his free time helping people to understand more about how to break into the world of F1 on his excellent blog - How to Get a Job in F1.

Name: David A
Industry: Engineering  - Formula 1 Racing
What is your job:  F1 Engineer
How long have you been doing this job?  I've been doing this job or something very similar for around 10 years
Degree:   Mechanical Engineering
A-Levels: Maths, Physics and Craft, Design & Technology* (*former Design & Technology A-level option)
Interests:  Motor racing(!), film and travel.

What was your very first job? Bar work at University

What made you want to do your current job? I've been fascinated by cars, and motorsport especially, since childhood.

How did you get there?  I did some research on the job requirements and picked subjects that matched at school.  I also raced karts and cars in my late teens and early 20's to give me experience and contacts. Back home, we used to race on an old airfield - we put tyres down on the runway and made our own kart circuit! I used school workshops to help me make bits for the kart that I needed at first, before it got more serious.

What is a typical day at work like? Typically very busy! I manage projects on both the current racing season/car and try to progress projects for next year's car or speculative ideas that anyone may come up with.  I sometimes have to travel to tests or Grand Prix's to oversee introduction of new technology onto the car.

What’s the best thing about your job? Seeing my car that I have worked on winning F1 Grand Prix!

What is the most challenging thing about your job? The workload is very high and it can be stressful, especially when the car is not competitive and we keep losing!

What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do? You need to be very dedicated, flexible, enthusiastic and creative.  An understanding of science, especially physics, is essential along with the ability to problem solve.  You need to be the type of person who questions everything and asks why a lot.

Getting some work experience of racing yourself or helping out with someone else racing is very useful too, as is getting involved in Formula Student or F1 in Schools programs.  You need to be prepared for your car to lose or to fail and pick yourself right back up to try again, enjoy the success when it arrives and be prepared to work through frustrating times!

Who inspires you? At work, I'm inspired by those who have already achieved great success yet come back and are still hungry for more and drive others to push to their best.  Formula 1 is full of those sorts of people.

How have things changed since you first started working in this industry? It's become much bigger, both in terms of how many people work in the industry and how popular the sport has become generally.  When I started it was just the real enthusiasts that knew about what we did, but now almost everyone knows who Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are.

Check out our post on the best engineering careers.

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Canadian Grand Prix 2011 - Photo by Lee & Chantelle McArthur 



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