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What It Takes To Work In F1

  • by: Conor McKeon
  • On: 20, Jun 2022
3 min read

Formula One is one of the most demanding fields in engineering. Engineers around the world dream of working in Formula One, as many believe it represents the pinnacle of the profession. If you want to become a race engineer, there are certain skills you’ll need to develop to stand out above the rest.

Qualifications needed to work in Formula One

Many engineers and mechanics working in racing will have a degree in mechanical or automotive engineering, but it’s not the only degree that can help you get started in the industry. Of course, a good understanding of mechanical engineering is vital.

Studying physics, maths, design, and technical subjects at school, or taking additional classes or modules at university will also help, as being a race engineer requires technical knowledge across many different areas.

Work experience and internships at any motorsport team will help you stand out when applying for jobs, but there are some core skills that you will need to succeed as a racing engineer.

Skills you need to work in Formula One

Analytics

 In the modern era of racing, cars are smarter than ever, with electronic systems onboard designed to capture data every second, which can then be analysed to improve performance. Hundreds or even thousands of data points are recorded throughout the race, allowing engineers to learn how to improve the chassis, wheels, or other systems.

Analytics is an important skill, as it allows for engineers to see patterns, paths to success, or imagine new design concepts, instead of being overwhelmed by huge amounts of data. Being able to cut through the noise and look at what matters is a skill that can take years to hone, but it is necessary for making winning decisions.

At the very top level of the sport, engineers are assisted by AI systems that can analyse data incredibly fast, but it’s still up to the engineers to decide what to prioritise.

Communication

One skill that often isn’t given as much attention as technical ability or engineering experience is communication. A vital skill in any industry, engineers need communication skills when speaking to managers and other engineers.

But the most important person engineers speak to is the driver. Throughout the race the driver will be adapting and making new decisions based on what happens. The engineers need to know exactly what the driver wants, and why, and be able to deliver it as fast as possible.

There are both pre- and post-race briefings where the driver will explain if anything went wrong, and what could be improved in subsequent races. Communication plays a vital role here, as everyone needs to feel part of a team that is working together, as well as understand what everyone else is working on, and why.

Working under pressure

The last skill can be the most difficult to develop for certain people: the ability to work under pressure. Race engineers spend a lot of time designing, iterating, and working outside of races, but the most important part of the job happens during the action itself.

Being able to make split-second decisions during race time can make the difference between a pole position or a loss, so you need to be able to diagnose and understand problems, prioritise different competing elements, and implement solutions at speed if you want to be a truly great racing engineer.

Read more about the impact of automation on formula one, or learn about formula one design trends.

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