5 top tips for getting a job in Formula 1

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Getting a job in Formula 1 is not easy. There are however a great deal of things you can do to improve your chances of being one of the lucky ones ! Follow my 5 top tips for how best to increase your chances of making a successful career in Formula 1.

1) Research exactly what it is that you want to do
Many people say “I want to work in Formula 1” but there are so many different jobs within the sport. You need to consider your strengths and experience, work out exactly what you want to do and then focus on developing the knowledge and skills that you need to fit that job role. Understanding the different roles within a team will help you narrow your focus into a specific area, keep you motivated towards that goal and hugely increase your chances of landing your dream job.

2) Learn about and immerse yourself in motor racing
Formula 1 is an entertainment business and the side of F1 that you watch on television is very different to the business that runs behind the scenes. To be successful in any business you need first to understand it. If you arrive at interview with a good understanding of what the team needs and the pressures that it is under then you have a much better chance of offering yourself as a solution to that need. Try reading some books on racing such as the The Piranha Club or The Mechanic’s Tale and build up a background of valuable racing knowledge.

3) Look beyond F1 at back door routes into motorsport
It is not impossible for graduates and school leavers to get a job at an F1 team straight after their studies but if this doesn’t work out there are ways in via the back door. Competition for jobs in other race series is much lower but they still offer valuable experience that would greatly interest F1 teams. Alternatively, working at sub-contractors and suppliers can not only gain you experience but also let you build priceless contacts by letting you work directly with the teams and even designing parts of the car. Successful relationships built this way can provide some of the best routes into Formula 1.

4) Get involved and volunteer
Many successful racing people found their passion and a lot of their knowledge of racing by working on lower formula cars and in club racing. The budgets may be lower but a car is a car and many of the problems you will come across at this level are the same as you might find in Formula 1. The adrenaline of competition and the satisfaction you get from being directly involved is likely to harden your resolve and motivate you to reach Formula 1. F1 teams attach great importance to the practical experience and attitude you develop having been directly involved in racing.

5) Never, ever give up
If you get the first job you apply for then you are the exception and not the rule. Be prepared for setbacks but do not be discouraged. I had 2 separate rejections from the first racing company I worked for before I finally landed my first job in motorsport. Once you have a foot in the door then life becomes much easier but you must stick to your ambition when times are more difficult. The successful people in racing are the ones who work hard and will not accept defeat.

My “Job in F1” blog aims to offer advice, tips and motivation on how best to go about getting a job in Formula 1. If want to make a career in racing you can look at my list of frequently asked questions, follow me or read through my archived posts. This blog is still a work in progress but if there is something I haven’t yet covered or you have a specific question then feel free to add a comment and I will respond personally. Formula 1 is a fantastic career and is not certainly beyond your reach if you are determined to work for it.

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29 thoughts on “5 top tips for getting a job in Formula 1

  1. Which companies employ Cranfield Motorsport MSc graduates?

    Over the last two years our alumni have gone onto careers in motorsport and automotive. Here are some of the companies:
    Red Bull Technology
    Lotus F1 Team
    Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains
    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1
    Williams F1
    Caterham F1
    Marussia F1
    Sahara Force India F1
    Sauber F1 Team
    Scuderia Toro Rosso
    Dallara Automobili
    Prodrive
    Xtrac
    Michelin
    Flybrid LLP
    Wirth Research
    SCE Solutions
    Fortec
    M2 Competition
    Pilbeam Racing Designs
    Roush Fenway Racing (NASCAR)
    GMT 94 GUYOT MOTORCYCLES TEAM
    R-ace GP
    ATL Fuel Cells
    IPG Car Maker
    Auto Research Centre (ARC)
    Triumph Motorcycles
    Millbrook
    Nissan Technical Centre Europe
    ARRMA Durango Ltd

  2. Hi! This question may sound a bit stupid but, you mention that you should get experience from the lower formulas. How do you get to work with these teams from GP2,Formula Ford,GP3 etc? Is it the same as a F1 team were you do a interview or what? Sorry If my question sounds stupid.

    1. Hi

      Thanks for the question. Not stupid at all ! It does work a little bit differently in lower formulas, the further away from F1 you get the less formal the process. For a FFord team or GP3, they are unlikely to formally advertise for a job as its quite expensive to do so, it would be a case of making contact with them, maybe going along to a race to meet people and leaving a CV etc, offering some help and assistance and making yourself useful. If they need someone after that then you would be an obvious choice if its gone well. Bit difficult to get the ball rolling but its really a case of spreading the word out as much as possible and seeing who needs someone. They may advertise on their own websites so its good to scan around and see what is there.

      Up at GP2 or GT (Le Mans) type level then you are more likely to see advertised jobs, certainly on the team’s individual websites if not on Autosport and the like.

      Hope that helps !!!

  3. Hello,
    Being a foreigner, it is usually difficult to get a work permit especially with the teams from lower formulae due to the strict visa rules. I have studied relevant degree for a job in Motorsports but the visa rules don’t make it easy for me. What do you think I should do?

    1. Hi

      Thanks for the comment. I must admit, work permits are not something I know a huge amount about. Lots of people work in F1 from the European Union but clearly they dont need a permit. I know a few Americans but I believe that they came here for education initially and then stayed.

      Its something I can look into but normally if you have the right resume then the teams are used to doing the necessary steps to help you get the permits but it may be a disadvantage compared to a European worker unfortunately.

  4. Thank’s for the reply,really helpful! I’m only 16 and still have a long,long way if I wish to get to F1 but I want to try and get a head start,especially getting advice from a guy who works in Formula One.

    I would really appreciate if you did a blog on how you got to Formula One. What degrees you did, work experience and what other things you did to get to the pinnacle of motorsport,F1.

    Do you work for Team Lotus? You mentioned Enstone in a blog.

  5. Hi, I just wanted to say what a great source of information you provide in this blog and I really appreciate you taking the time and effort to contribute. I’m currently a second year mechanical engineering student with aspirations to get into F1. At the moment I’m looking into the prospect of trying to get a summer placement within a lower formula team but I’m finding information is scarce to get hold of, what advice would you have for trying to get my foot in the door, so to speak?
    Thanks
    Rob

    1. Hi Rob. Thanks a lot for the positive comments. I really appreciate it.

      Sounds you are already doing the right things but a good way to find if/who might have placement work would be to contact the series organisers for a particular formula. For the smaller series this especially good as they’ll know all the team owners well and be familiar with their situations. They may know of someone who needs the help.

      Most teams will have a website with contact details these days. Longer shot but you could also try contacting some lower formula drivers. Getting paid is less likely but they may be more keen for you to get involved. I know that Ayao Komatsu who is Grosjeans race engineer formed a relationship early on with Takuma Sato and he went right through the formulas with him to F1. He’s done better than Takuma!!

  6. Other than repairing the car,getting it ready for Practice,Qualifying and Race what other role does the mechanic play in a Formula One team. E.g what does he do back at the factory etc.

    1. Hi

      Thanks for the comment and taking an interest in my blog.

      The turn around time between one race and the next is very short. The cars get taken back to the factory and are stripped down completely and rebuilt with new parts before they are shipped out again. The used parts are then serviced and rebuilt ready for the cars when they come back next time. This is typically done in just 2-3days so mechanics are busy with that and doing pitstop practice etc.

      They’ll also have a day off somewhere in between too.

      Hope that helps! I’m hoping to do a job description section in my blog soon too which should have more detail.

  7. Dear JobInF1,

    My name is Ben Johnston, I am 25 years old, from Dublin Ireland. I have a Bachelor Of Arts Honors Degree in Media Production Management. I had been looking into getting employment in the radio industry, however due to the current economic situation I like so many other people have found it extremely tough to find employment.

    I am a HUGE Formula One fan and I have been following the sport since 1999. Last year I decided to set up a Formula One Blog which proved to be a huge success and as a result of this I was invited to get involved in an Irish Formula One website project that a friend of mine has set up.

    So I am currently working as a blogger on the website. We have media accreditation from most of the team’s on the grid. I have decided that I would love to try and get into Formula One through the media. I am not sure how to go about it. I was wondering if you could possibly give me a few pointers if you don’t mind. I understand that it is an extremely difficult sport to get work in but I constantly look in Autosport for any media related vacancies with F1 team’s or other team’s in lower Formulae. I was wondering if you would know how I would go about contacting a team’s media department.

    I would be extremely grateful if you could help me out in anyway possible. In last year’s January edition of F1Racing Magazine I had a piece published in their Best Race I have Been to’ as I wrote about my experience of the 2010 Italian GrandPrix

    1. Hi Ben

      Thanks for the message earlier.

      It sounds like you are pretty determined to get involved in F1. Do you want to be a journalist covering the sport or do you want to be working at one of the teams doing PR and such like ? I guess they are quite different pursuits.

      Most team’s have very small media departments, in fact it is probably just one individual who writes press releases and such like for most teams. The marketing department are much bigger and they are responsible for finding sponsors and then liasing with those companies to ensure that they get the most out of the relationships. This might involve organising factory tours for their employees, arranging giveaways of their merchanise to team fans or discussing branding visibility for the car and team clothing. The press may well be invited to any large events that the team organises (such as a new car launch or driver / sponsor unveiling) but otherwise they don’t involve themselves with journalists a great deal. You will see the very organised media times at F1 race meetings where drivers are herded into a pen and shoved in front of accredited TV and written media journalists, chaperoned by the PR person or a marketing person.

      If you want to get involved in journalism I would highly recommend getting in touch with Craig Scarborough @ScarbsF1, http://www.scarbsf1.com. He is a really good guy, completely self made from a blogger to a semi professional journalist writing for Autosport. I am sure you have heard of him but his experience here is probably better than mine.

      I hope that helps !?

      1. Thank you so much for your help, delighted with that. It’s the Journalism side I am looking at getting into as I am coming from a media background. Thank very much for the contact details too.

  8. Let’s just say I have fnished my degree in Mechanical Engineering and have landed a job in a Formula One team as a mechanic. .It’s my first day and The team principal has asked me to help the guys build the new car. My question is how am I supposed to know were all the parts go etc. Sorry if I can’t make my point any clearer. What i’m trying to get at is you see the Mechanics on T.V and they know were everything goes,they know what all the equipment does etc.

    Does other experienced Mechanics help you to get familiar with things or are you expected to know what everything does quickly.

    What i’m worried about is, if I do get the chance to work in a F1 team I don’t want to go the race circuit and not have clue were things go and not being able to repair them or replace them.

    Sorry if I can’t make my question clear!

    1. Hi

      Thanks for the question and dont worry its not daft at all and its perfectly clear.

      Firstly, if you have very little experience it is unlikely, or in fact impossible that you would be sent off to the race in your first week. Even if someone has good experience as a mechanic then F1 cars are very specific and you cannot just ‘know’ what you are doing no matter how good you are.

      The car’s designers will produce very detailed assembly drawings of each part of the car and how it fits together. These are very similar to the drawings that you get in any self assembly furniture pack (like IKEA) and show you which parts, which nuts and bolts and what greases to use and what torque each of the fastener is done up to. It is essentially a manual as to how to build the car so you would follow this. The experienced guys will be able to second guess the layout as it is probably similar to the previous year’s car but even they will check against the assembly drawing and sign off that they have done everything up tightly.

      In reality you are more likely to start your job in one of the sub-assembly areas so here you will build up smaller assemblies of the car at a work bench between races and have the supervision of a senior mechanic. This might be part of the suspension or gearbox. Once you have beocme proficient at this you may then progress to fitting this sub-assembly to the car itself. This will probably happen very quickly but you typically learn very quickly in F1.

      I hope that helps !?

  9. Thanks for reply, i’m very grateful that you are willing to take time out of your job to help us. Much appreciated!

    I was looking on Autosport last-night and was looking at what jobs are available. As you can see I want to be a mechanic but a lot of the job vacancies were Aerodynamicists, Track-side operators but there was nothing about wanting Mechanics. Is this one of the harder areas to get to? Does it just say “Mechanic” when looking at the jobs available or do they use a different name for it.

    1. There will be jobs for mechanics advertised. Many of them are on year long or more contracts and so you dont see too many during the early part of the season. They will be termed ‘Mechanic’ but often it will be ‘No.1 Mechanic’ or ‘No.2 Mechanic’. The No. 1 mechanic is generally more senior and in charge of the car as a whole. The No. 2’s are then responsible for the different areas ie front end, gearbox and such like.

      Take a look at racestaff.com, as there are a lot more jobs on there compared to autosport and you’ll see a bigger variety and typical sorts of adverts.. They are in the general motorsport field not just Formula 1.

  10. Hi, just want to say this site is very helpful and I think its great you have taken the time to put it together. I have been reading a lot on the internet and a lot of websites have been saying that in order to become a formula one engineer a degree from a top university such as cambridge or imperial is necessary for obtaining a job within F1. Is this really the case? Do you know which universities are thought highly of within f1? Which universities prepare you the best for a job within f1? Thankyou.

    1. Hi Sofie

      A good degree will help a lot, especially of you want to do an academically intensive job like aerodynamics or stress analysis.

      What I will say though is I haven’t met many people in F1 who have been to Oxford or Cambridge. This isn’t very normal. You need a decent degree but to be honest most people in F1 aren’t ‘geniuses’. What you do need are good understanding of fundamentals and the ability to think through problems logically, applying those fundamentals. A degree doesn’t test those skills that well in my experience so this is something you learn in the job.

      My take on it is that F1 people should be ‘bright’, keen, focused but not necessarily top of the class for grades.

      As far as top universities are concerned, it’s hard to say as every team & every potential boss is different. There are no ‘rules’. Any university with a good general reputation for engineering will be a good bet,Imperial, Loughborough, Bath, Manchester etc. There are lots of Motorsport courses these days but many of them aren’t that academic. If you want to be an engineer level person then steer clear and stick to Mech Eng or similar. They are mainly for technicians, mechanics etc. Two exceptions are Oxford Brookes & Cranfield. They produce lots of F1 people and have strong industrial links.

      Hope that helps!

  11. Thanks for taking the time with this website. At the minute I’m doing A-Levels and am really interested in doing a motorsport engineering course at Uni. Roughly what doors will that course open to me in terms of what type of work in a motorsports team. Is it for more a aerodynamic, design and theory perspective or is it more practical and hands on like a pit crew idea?
    Regards,
    Adam

    1. Hi Adam

      It depends on the course really – many motorsport engineering courses have less academic content than say a mechanical engineering degree which would traditionally have been followed for designers and engineers. Aerodynamicists tend to follow specific aeronautics degrees as it is very academic subject to follow.

      Those less academic courses tend to have lower entry requirements in terms of A-Levels than mech eng degree courses. The best thing to do is contact that Uni and course provider and ask them what previous graduates have ended up doing. They should have to sell you the course and will be prepared with evidence to back it up. Ask plenty of questions before choosing your course. An important aspect is work experience and year out placements – some courses have very good agreements with F1 teams and can place good students directly. These are golden opportunities so do your research.

  12. Am still at school doing my matric and I really love racing cars, so I want to work in Fomula 1 but a specific job that I want to do is to drive f1 cars to race, so what can I do to apply with F1?

  13. Thank you very much for taking time out to write this blog, you have provided key tips on how to get your foot in the door for a career in motorsport.
    I am currently studying at college looking at going to university to do a degree in motorsport engineering, my dream has always been to become a race engineer within a formula one team, even though I know this can be extremely difficult. I am a huge fan of formula one to the extent of having autographs, posters, books, model cars etc. Also I have some books on how formula one cars are produced (I use these regularly to gain knowledge in advance) it would mean the world to me to be able to gain the qualifications I need and have the opportunity to possibly land a job within this industry.
    Is there any strong advice you would be able to give me in regards to taking the correct path in to the sport i love so much?
    Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    1. Hi Zara

      Thanks for the great comments about my site, I’m glad you have found it useful!

      As far as key steps, I guess that is what I am trying to compile at the moment, post by post as its not as easy as just A, B, C( I wish it were!)

      I am considering (in fact already working on) a kind of guidebook which would list out my recommended steps from school through to interviews on how best to approach the whole thing, with some useful contacts & information included. Is that the kind of thing you think would be useful for someone like yourself? I’d appreciate some feedback as it is a lot of work to compile it and write it so I’d love to know whether people would be interested or not!

      Best of luck!

      1. Hi.
        Thank you for the useful reply. And thank you for replying it is much appreciated.
        Yes I agree a guidebook would be an excellent way of getting your experience out there and helping other people along the path to where you are now.
        I think that in providing the kind of information you mentioned in your reply, it will enable people such as myself to benefit from it greatly and take the correct path.
        I hope my response has been useful to you.
        Good luck in producing the guidebook.

  14. Hi!
    Me and my boyfriend are interested to work in maleysia gran prix 2014. We are Finnish couple living now in Australia, but start travelling Asia end of February.
    We both work in restaurant industry, I am a waittress and he is a chef.
    Cold you give me a tip?

    1. Hi Leeni

      Working at the races is largely down to the race organisers themselves rather than the teams. I dont know too much about that but would suggest contacting the promoter/circuit owner as soon as possible

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