It may look out of reach for the vast majority, but with hard work, passion and a slice of luck anybody can achieve the ultimate goal of a Formula 1 job. But what is it actually like to work in F1? Adam Arbon spoke to an aerodynamicist about life away from the race track.
How did you get into Formula 1?
During my PhD, I contacted a friend of mine who was working for a team back then, asking whether they did any kind of internships for students. She asked for my CV and she forwarded it to the head of aerodynamics.
Then I had an interview with him and a few months later I started my non-paid summer internship in the aero department. Entering F1 is the most difficult step. After that things can get a bit easier especially if you know the right people.
What has been your biggest challenge while working in F1?
The job itself is a big challenge, but if I would need to choose one, it would be the everyday challenge to find performance. Each of us is responsible for an area of the car and we have targets to meet at short periods of time.
This is the beauty of the sport too though. You push yourself every day to improve and bring more performance. It's not rare to be lying down in bed and still thinking 'how I can improve my design?', analysing stuff in my mind and taking decisions on how to move forward.
What advice would you give hopefuls about working in F1?
Learn the fundamentals first, then keep working hard, gain experience and never give up. Entering F1 is not easy, so one should always look around for opportunities in other industries too. You can gain very good experience in automotive or aerospace and, if you keep pushing, the opportunity will come at some point.
It is also very important to network and know the right people as these are the ones who could really help in the end. Nowadays, LinkedIn is very useful for job opportunities. Keep in mind though, that F1 is not a nine-to-five job and needs a lot of sacrifices to succeed.
What is the best thing about working in F1?
The best thing is that you can see your design from computer to the track in a few weeks.
Is career progression possible in modern Formula 1?
Career progression is possible but as in most of the jobs depends on performance/experience, timing and of course politics sometimes. F1 is a competitive environment and all of us want to go higher, but this can't happen for everyone within a team. This is why people tend to look around (other teams).
This is one of the most usual ways to progress in case this is not happening in your own team. I have to mention though that you need to be patient and work hard.
What does the future hold for you, working in an industry like motorsport?
I want to stay in F1 and see what I can achieve. I am still learning every day and need to get more experience. Of course, getting more and more responsibility is the usual progression, but my target is to become a good team leader in the long-term.