What degree do I need to get into F1?

Posted on Posted in Educational routes to motorsport

One of the prime reasons that I started this website was because I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked “How do I get a job in F1?”

I wanted this website to be an answer to the question and many more of the common questions that people have about working in F1.

What degree do I need to work in F1?

This post is going to concentrate on the question of degree qualifications and suggest which types of courses are best for those wishing to get a job in F1. Firstly, you DON’T need a degree to work in F1. Motorsport has a huge number of different roles within the industry and the majority of people who work in F1 don’t have degrees. Read my earlier post here as some background as to why.

For those wishing to be designers, aerodynamicists or engineers, a degree will almost certainly be required as academic qualifications count for a lot in this type of job. This is an unavoidable fact.

Mechanical Engineering

The good news is that you don’t need a specialist degree to work in F1. The vast majority of engineers and designers will have solid degrees in quite standard subjects like Mechanical or Aeronautical Engineering. A good grade in a traditional engineering subject from a reputable university is exactly the background that teams are looking for. A candidate who can mix this academic background with practical experience and demonstrate that they have used their initiative to learn about racing has the ideal background for F1. Easier said than done of course, but this is what you should be aiming for.

What about specialist Motorsport degrees and courses?

An increasing number of institutions are offering motorsport specific degrees as an alternative to the traditional general engineering courses. Should you take one of these instead?

A difficult question but in general I would advise some caution. There are a number of very good courses of this type on offer but they are nestled amongst several gimmick type courses which neglect the fundamentals of engineering which are so important. A good engineer with a solid fundamental understanding can apply him or herself to just about any technical issue in Formula 1 with just a small amount of learning time. A candidate who has learnt from a specialist course at the expense of the fundamentals may struggle if the subject or problem strays too far from their course matter. The latter type of candidate is of much less use in F1 than the former.

I would say you should research your course and your institution fully before making a decision. Where have previous graduates gone after leaving? Is the course new or does it have a long history? Does it have strong industrial links? The course entry requirements may give you the best clue, if they are lower than other courses you should be suspicious!

A degree of specialism does however have advantages. Many degree courses are long and an element of applied motorsport project work or modules may keep you motivated towards your target and help maintain the link between what you study and what you hope to do. Many people lose sight after 3 or more years of exams.

It can also make your CV stand out from the crowd but many teams are skeptical unless they recognise the university name which has run the course. It’s a fine balance.

I hope to list Motorsport courses which I recommend elsewhere on this site or in a future post.

Aerodynamics

A big exception to the above is for those wishing to be aerodynamicists. Aeronautics is a relatively new discipline and not every university will offer a course as it requires specialist staff and equipment to teach the practical elements. If you do want to be an aerodynamicist however I would recommend that you study an aeronautical engineering degree if at all possible. Mechanical engineers can ‘convert’, particularly if they are very bright but the subjects are diverse enough that in this case the specialists will have an advantage.

There are a number of post graduate courses in aeronautical engineering for those who wish to keep their options open in their first degree but it will mean extra study and time before you can start work and earning a living.

Further reading

Please take a look elsewhere on this site for other help and guidance on what you need to do to work in F1. The FAQ section should soon be up and running and be the first port of call to answer many commonly asked questions.

You can also follow me on Twitter @Work_in_F1 or on Facebook.

Best of luck and see you on the grid someday.

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7 thoughts on “What degree do I need to get into F1?

  1. Thanks for a quality blog with useful, realistic information. My situation is this: I’m an international living outside the EU with a degree in electrical engineering and 10 years in lab/simulation/systems engineering in a field unrelated to motorsport. I have applied to and seem to be in line for a seat at a Foundation Degree program for motorsport engineering in the UK. My question regards the placement of individuals such as myself within F1. I have researched the various VISA constraints, to include points about occupancy shortage lists and an organisation’s sponsorship obligations. The situation I wish to avoid is travelling to the UK, graduating from a reputable program, and then finding placement within the F1 industry difficult, not for lack of qualification, but because of these aforementioned constraints. Do you have any advice in this area? Have any of your colleagues taken a similar path? Is a work VISA for an individual from outside the EU a significant hurdle? Thanks for your time.

    1. Hi Robert

      Thanks for the question.

      You are right about the points situation and sponsoring. If you were to apply for a job and be offered it, I dont think there would be a problem at all but the problem may be if you finish your studies and dont get a job straight away. I am not fully read up on the situation but that would appear to be the only hurdle. Lots and lots and lots of non Europeans work in F1. Its really not unusual at all. Many have studied here however so that route that you are following seems a good one.

      I dont think you being a foreigner would be a barrier to offering you a job. You just need to bear in mind that even though you are experienced worker and then have a degree in motorsport you may still not get offered a job in F1. There are lots of people in that situation and so the competition is still very high for very few places.

      I would carry on with what you are doing but perhaps also look at jobs elsewhere in racing to ensure that you can stay and build up your motor racing experience.

      http://jobinf1.com/2013/05/28/stepping-stones-to-formula-1/

  2. Hi,

    I am currently studying a MChem Chemistry degree at the University of Bath and was wondering if there are any roles for a person with this kind of degree within a F1 team or associated companies. I had always had my mind set on an engineering or architecture degree (before choosing chemistry instead) so am creative and able to visualise objects, deisgns, etc.

    I have read some of your blogs about not needing a degree or specialised degree for certain roles, would a Chemistry degree be useful and would I be considered alongside people with engineering degrees in an application for say a placement opportunity. In my third/fourth year, I can specialize in materials chemistry, would this improve my chances? Also if you enter a team in one area, can you work your way through to another specialty or do the departments not have a lot of crossover?

    Thank you for your time.

  3. Would you reccomend the Oxford Brooke’s motorsport engineering course to aid me in getting into an engineering role in f1. Thanks, Rob

  4. Hi,
    Thanks for the great information. I’m currently completing a mechanical Engineering apprenticeship. I was just wondering if you are able to break into F1 through an apprenticeship, or would you need to have a university background?

    1. Hi Sam

      Many get into F1 through apprenticeships. University is only for engineers. Most other ‘hands on’ roles such as mechanics, technicians and manufacturing staff will not have been to university and will have learnt their trades ‘in the job’ training.

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