Since I started this blog in January I have been overwhelmed with amount of comments and questions I’ve received about how to get a job in Formula 1. Answering each of those questions individually has become quite difficult but several questions keep coming up over and over. In this post I am discussing whether there is a magic formula to follow to get a job in F1 and when you will know that you will have done enough to get noticed by the F1 teams.
To set the scene for this post I want to ask a common type of question that people have been posting on my comments section. It has been something such as :
“I’m about to go to college ‘X’ and study engineering. Will I get a job in F1 with that qualification? Will that course be enough to get me a job?”
Choosing the right university or college course is clearly important and it’s a perfectly understandable question to ask but unfortunately it’s not a question that I or anyone else can answer and here’s why.
It’s never enough
Imagine you decide you want to run in the Olympics and win a gold medal. You might find a local running club who have coaches to help you train. You ask one of the coaches “If I join this club and train 3 times a week, will I win the gold medal ?” It isn’t impossible that you would win but unfortunately the answer is almost certainly no !
Most athletes dedicate their entire lives to training and racing. They will deny themselves pleasures, they will diet, weight train, endure pain, control their sleep patterns, purchase the best equipment and generally do everything in their power to reach the goals they have set themselves. Champions do not just decide one day that they want to be winners and take home a medal the next. Training lasts for years to build up the strength, endurance and skill required to compete at the highest level. Even despite all of this training there can only be one winner of course and so the sad truth is that the majority will still come away empty handed. This is hard to bear for the losers, but it is life.
Many, many potential athletes start out on the path to the Olympics but one by one, more and more will drop out as they find that they don’t have the required level of dedication and that the sacrifice needed is too much for them. This is part of the natural selection process. One thing you can be sure of however is that the athletes who did NOT do everything they could to be the best will never win. Ask the question again “is it enough ?” In the case of the Olympics, you can never do enough and only those who will not give up have even a chance to win the medal.
There is always more you can do
The Olympics is perhaps an extreme example but essentially the same rules I describe above will apply to Formula 1. The dedication required to win in F1 as a driver is perhaps similar to that of an Olympic gold medal winner but this drive for excellence will also spread out to the team itself and then to the individuals that work in the team. Competitiveness is evident in all aspects of F1 and so team owners are looking for only the very best people to work on their cars and to run their teams. Even to get a job in F1 you will be competing against many thousands of other people who want to do the same. There are not many jobs out there to win.
If you want to be a designer for example, then it’s likely that you will need to go to university and get a degree. Its not 100% necessary but it will put you in the best position. There are however over 100 universities in the UK alone, and the majority of these will offer degree courses in engineering. The UK produces some 23,000 engineering graduates each year and so even if you work hard and get the degree you want then you will still find it hard to make yourself stand out in this crowd. You will only be as qualified as those around you. You can assume that not every engineering graduate wants to work in F1 but it is likely that a reasonable number of them would be interested in the chance and so you will be competing against hundreds, if not thousands of well qualified people like yourself for just a handful of openings in Formula 1.
If you believe that going to school or college and watching races on TV is ‘enough’ to get a job in F1 then you are unlikely to be the ‘winner’. It is almost certain that someone else with the same qualification as you has also spent time at his/her local race circuit, been working a data logger for amateur Formula Ford racer or spent a season competing in their own kart. They not only have a degree but also have some practical experience to show for it, and most importantly the extra work they have done demonstrates how much they want to work in racing. That person will be the one getting the job, not you.
You will not stand out from the crowd unless you go that extra mile, train harder and dig deeper that the other competitors. In many ways it is not what you do, it is how you do it that counts. To work in F1 you do not need to give up absolutely everything, but it is perhaps closer to being a lifestyle than it is to being a normal job and only those who really want it will reach that goal.
The magic Formula
I would love to be able to offer a magic formula or a foolproof ‘How to’ set of instructions for working in F1 but in this game there are no guarantees. There is no set path or answer, no foolproof methods or structured training. F1 is a bit like the wild west, it’s a competitive, innovative sport and getting a job in F1 is very much like competing in the sport itself.
I can’t sit here and tell you that you will get a job in F1 as long as you do X, Y & Z. Life does not work that way. I can recommend what I think it is best to do, and what is likely to be most useful to you in terms of qualifications and experience. The lesson I really want people to take from this post is that there is always more that you can do, that there is something else you can read about, talk to someone about, take part in, another way to show that you have initiative and dedication to racing and are willing to learn. Maybe it is working part time at a race team, but equally it could be just buying up old bicycles and restoring them in your bedroom. Either way it shows that you have an interest, that you have done something not just because your school or college course told you to do it but because you thought of it and went out of your way to get it. These are the personal qualities that you need to work and compete in Formula 1.
Keep in touch
If you are interested in a career in Formula 1 or want to learn more about how you can get involved, take a look through my list of frequently asked questions or read through some of my recent posts. This blog has a lot of useful tips and information waiting for you.
The time pressures of my job in F1 mean that I cannot update the site each day but I aim to post regularly. You can keep checking the blog for new articles or alternatively you can use the follow form at the bottom of this page or on the home page and I will keep you up to date with new articles as they are published.
If you have read the blog but there is still something specific you want to know you can always add a comment to this or any other post. Please bear in mind however that I get a lot of comments on the site now and I can’t guarantee to answer all questions, particularly if they have been asked before or have been discussed in previous posts. Please check my frequently asked questions or other people’s comments as your query may have already been answered. You can also follow me on Twitter @Work_in_F1.
Best of luck and I hope to see some of you in the paddock or on the grid someday !