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Are you competitive enough for today’s F1?

Some people say F1 is a sport. Some people say F1 is a business. Whichever it is, you need to have a strong competitive spirit inside you to keep up. F1 is serious competition in every way possible and the job market is no exception. Have you got what it takes?

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Image courtesy of official F1 timing App

That winning feeling

I am a competitive person. I know it and I’m not ashamed of it. Many of my friends say that I am over-competitive but I don’t really understand what this means. In normal life I try to suppress my competitive instinct for the sake of friendships and relationships but when it comes to racing and racing cars nothing is more important than winning. The drive and energy that comes from wanting to win (or more accurately, not wanting to be beaten) has been a central theme to my career and I see a very similar trait in most other people who are successful in F1. If you want to do well in this business you need to really want it and have to be prepared to fight to win.

Know your enemy

Competition is healthy. One of the things that I think I would miss most of all if I worked outside of F1 would be the competition. I have to work hard in my job but most of the time that is not because someone is telling me to work hard it is because I am pushing myself to achieve more, pushing myself to be better and pushing myself to beat those around me. That goes for my colleagues as well as our competitor teams. That may sound aggressive but it’s not. My colleagues include some very good friends of mine but we all enjoy competing with each other and the end result is normally a better racing car. This is healthy competition.

When you are striving to get a job in F1 and make that breakthrough into the sport then you are also in competition. Places are limited and so people will be prepared to fight hard to reach that goal. You need to be prepared to fight harder than any of the others.

My advice to you is to use that competitive instinct within you to drive yourself to achieve. F1 is not something that you will be guided into, nothing something that will come and find you. You need to go out and get it, get ahead of your competition. I would often imagine that my competitors had fantastic grades, tons of racing experience and friends in the sport. They would take my job if I let them so I would get up in the morning and throw myself into my school or university work determined to get even better grades than they had. I looked into so many different ways in, made contacts, spent my weekends at racetracks and piled my CV with as many relevant experiences and achievements as I could. My CV was going to be the best around, I made sure of it. Each time I imagined someone else getting close to getting ‘my job’ I doubled my efforts to beat them to it. I couldn’t afford to take a chance.

Use frustration in the right way

As I have mentioned several times in other blog posts already, I did not get a job in F1 right away. I worked initially for an OEM car manufacturer and then with several different race teams and race series, largely in America. At first I was hugely frustrated at being outside of racing because I was super confident that I could do a good job just given the chance. Luckily I realised no one was going to give me the chance. I had to take it.

Inevitably if you are still looking for a job in F1 then you will become increasingly frustrated. The key is to use this frustration wisely and use it to drive you on to improve yourself rather grow more disillusioned or despondent. The most rewarding things in life are worth striving for.

Let it all out

F1 is something you can get competitive about. In many other jobs I would find it hard to find the motivation to sell more, improve company profits or tidy the paperwork. There is little or no reward for those things.

F1 has a very measurable reward. You either win or lose and the contest takes place every 2 weeks. If you didn’t like losing last week you can work hard and try and win the next week. It’s a healthy outlet of a very normal aspect of human nature. People ask why I work so hard. Well it isn’t because someone tells me that I have to it’s because I WANT to! I want to achieve something and find achievement in Formula 1 and racing very satisfying. I look back on some of the things I’ve done and been involved in during my career and I feel proud. It’s not every job in the world that can give you that reward.

Showing a potential employer that you have that competitive instinct and the drive that goes with it is incredibly important for your chances of success. It’s tells them that you will be prepared to put in the effort off your own back and can be relied upon. As I have said in so many previous posts, your character is as important as your qualifications when it comes to getting a job in F1 and that personality will come across through the activities and achievements you have pursued outside of school and work as much as those within. If you can demonstrate that competitive instinct in your application then teams will be so much more likely to want to interview you.

h3>Keep in touch

I’ve been quite poor at keeping up the blog over the winter but something had to give whilst we were getting the new car ready. I’m hoping to have bit more time over the next few weeks so expect a good many more posts on various topics. There are lots of things I still want to talk about but feel free to leave a comment and ask about something specific.

If you want to keep up with those future posts you can follow my blog using the box just below this post, and join my ever increasing band of merry followers ! I’m amazed how many people have been keeping up with my ramblings, we might have enough to start our own team soon ! Why don’t you join in?

Alternatively you can follow me on Twitter @Work_in_F1 where I post my tips and tricks or links to job postings and relevant articles around the web.

Best of luck and here is to a good result in Malaysia!!

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9 thoughts on “Are you competitive enough for today’s F1?

  1. Hi there,

    I am so glad I found your blog, it is full of really great insights that can’t be found anywhere else. I am sure many aspiring F1 hopefuls find your writing a huge help.

    I plan to move to the UK from NZ in 2015 to work in F1. I have a mechanical engineering degree and am currently finishing my masters. Prior to university I qualified as a mechanic and spent 5 years building and servicing circuit, targa, hillclimb and rally cars. The reason I came to university is that a former F1 Engineer told me that I would need a degree to make it in F1, I signed up for the degree the next week. Currently I am the Team Principal and Race Engineer for the Formula SAE team at our university, which we are currently in the middle of designing the new car for.

    I am also involved with local race teams helping with data and setup in my spare time, mostly touring cars. We mainly use MoTeC gear, so I am familiar with i2. However most of these cars are not very sophisticated and the amount of data aq. is limited by the regs.

    I want to work as a race engineer in F1. I have three main questions-

    —What time of year do teams look to recruit junior data engineers?

    —Is it realistic for me to be hired as a junior data engineer straight into F1? Or should I expect to work in GP2 or similar first?

    —Is there any other experience I can add to my background that will improve my chances?

    Thanks in advance, looking forward to Malaysia this weekend.

    Tim

    1. 1) your background sounds good
      2) typically teams don’t hire junior data engineers straight off unless you have previous high level race engineering experience. You would typically be hired as a vehicle dynamic isn’t first and then move onto track work

  2. Thanks for your posts and advices!!! I’m trying to be competitive as much as I can, during my academic and professional experiences but sometimes the things just take a step back instead of moving forward. I never give up. ! I have so many questions for you! I will write you soon!
    Congratulations for your iniciative with this post, for your efforts to post something regularly. It’s being really helpful to me. And I’m sure that one day, I will meet you personaly in the paddocks, when I finally get my job in F1.

  3. Thanks for the good post, I always get excited when I receive an e-mail with news from this site. Thanks a lot for releasing this kind of information.

  4. Hi. Firstly Great work on the blog sir I am currently pursuing bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from India . I wish to become an F1 engineer(CFD or aerodynamicist).
    1)If I do a masters from US in aerodynamics or any other specialist field related to F1 what are my statistical changes of getting into F1?
    2)Do you happen to know any Indian engineers working in F1?.If so could you share their path of how they got in?
    3)Also since masters in UK is only for a year(in US it is two years) do you recommend masters from US / UK?
    Thanks for your time sir and keep writing

    1. 1) very difficult to answer. Ask yourself how many people study aerodynamics in US/UK. It must be over 10,000?
      2) I can’t do that I am afraid. You can find this information yourself on LinkedIn.
      3) I would recommend study in the UK

  5. Hey,

    I need some sincere advice from yourselves before I exert myself wholeheartedly towards a career in Motorsport.
    I am about to graduate with a MEng degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Nottingham. I have had a strong interest in Motorsport since a young age, but never thought of it as a career propect. However over the last few years whilst studying Engineering my lack of enthusiasm for my current course and my strong interest in Motorsport has really made me reconsider my career choice. The problem I have is that I would want to get into the technical side of motorsport, however a Civil Engineering degree just doesnt cut it. Consequently I have conjured up the following plan;
    After graduating I would like to take 2 years out in which I will hopefully gain employment in a graduate role (not necessarily Motorsport related). However during this time I am hoping to do 3 things, firstly volunteer in motorsports events (Hopefully this will give me access to some good contacts). Secondly I will have to refine my engineering knowledge to a more mechanical/aeronautical based perspective (this will have to be done through self-study) and finally I hope to work on a few cars myself.
    Luckily for me my father was a technician for Citroen and Aston Martin in his younger days and me and my elder brother are always working on making small mods to his cars (we have worked on a few drift machines up until now). In addition my current degree does have a strong link to Mechanical Engineering, therefore my understanding of fundamental engineering principles is good (I am aiming to achieve a first class degree, if not, atleast a very high 2:1), so I believe I have the technical ability in me.
    After these 2 years, I would look to enrol on to a Aerodynamic/Motorsport related course (Race Car Aerodynamics at Southampton or Advanced Motorsport Engineering at Cranfield). This should help me refine all my knowledge and experience whilst also adding to it and should hopefully give me some exposure to the industry.
    So, my question to you is;
    1) If all goes to plan, would such a profile be worthy for a position in Motorsport according to your experience? Bearing in mind my undergraduate will be in Civil Engineering.
    2) Which MSc would you recommend? A Motorsports MSc or one more focused on a specific field, such as Aerodynamics?

    Your advice will be greatly appreciated and thank you for helping us dreamers fulfil our ambitions!!!

    1. Sounds like a plausible plan to me. If you can demonstrate a thought out and determined plan to get into racing then you will often look more attractive than a straight school/university leaver.
      I would specialise in either Motorsport if you want to be a designer or race engineering person and in aeronautical engineering if you want to be an aerodynamicist. That choice is up to you.

      Best of kuck

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