In this series of posts I am going through the current teams one-by-one and asking which of them might be the best F1 team to work for. I’ll be looking not only at their on track performance but also at their size, location and most importantly, what opportunities they offer for newcomers to the sport.

Manor is Formula 1’s current perennial back marker and also its newest team. In just a few short years since it launched as Virgin F1, it has been through several name changes, factory moves and has suffered terrible tragedies which would test the resolve of any established team never mind one struggling to keep pace at the back of the grid. It has been a tough introduction to Formula 1 for Manor but the team is built upon a solid group of hardcore racers who are determined to be in the sport for the long term.

Manor F1

The financial crisis of 2007 had far reaching effects across the world and led to a number of automotive manufacturer backed F1 teams pulling the plug on their support and threatening to shrink the grid significantly. To counter this, the FIA president Max Moseley proposed a set of cost restrictions and a standard engine & gearbox combination which would allow 4 new privateer team to fill the gap left by the manufacturer and join the grid in 2010. The only surviving one of those four teams is what we now know as Manor F1.

Initially titled sponsored by Virgin, the team partnered with race specialist Wirth Research to produce an all CFD designed car. The car however was well off the pace and the relationships with Wirth and Virgin rapidly deteriorated. Purchased by Russian car company Marussia in 2012 and led by the experienced Pat Symonds things started to improve. Over the next few seasons, the team began to show promise, especially against the much better funded newcomer Caterham.

Slowly, investment in a new factory and facilities began to show and finally at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix Jules Bianchi scored the team’s maiden points amid much celebration. Those celebrations however would be short lived as tragedy struck at the Japanese race later that year. Bianchi crashed heavily and suffered severe injuries which would later claim his life. The team had already endured the pain of losing Maria di Villota, the Spanish driver being horrifically injured in its car after a freak accident during testing. It was a major test.

Funds dried up at the end of the year and the team was put into administration with its factory and much of its facilities being sold to the emerging Haas F1 team. A last minute reprieve was organised however, and the team has returned to the grid in 2015 with new backing and a new driver pairing but for now it remains firmly at the back of the grid.

Where is it ?

Manor has been a very mobile team in its short history but its established base up to 2015 was in the old Ascari factory on the outskirts of Banbury. Those premises were sold however and are now the European base for the new Haas F1 team but the footage below gives you a good idea as to the layout and facilities that the old factory had.

The Manor race team is currently run out of the Manor junior team headquarters in Yorkshire with an engineering base at Silverstone Circuit’s technology park but plans are now in place to move the whole operation back to Banbury to share part of Prodrive’s new factory and establish a permanent home within easy reach of its supplier and recruitment network.

What is it like to work there?

With the team in such transition it’s hard to know what the structure and atmosphere will be like but life at any back-marker team is always hard. Results are few and far between and you must take satisfaction from any small reward or success as it comes along. Be prepared for a hard slog, life at this end of the grid is tough.

As the team rebuilds however everyone there will be taking a bigger role and having greater input into how the team is developed than would be the case at an established team. This is a fantastic experience and is probably one of the best and fastest ways to learn if you are a newcomer. With some very experienced people at the helm you will watch and learn with more direct access to the decision makers.

I think that for those looking to get involved in Formula 1, teams like Manor offer a
golden opportunity which should not be ignored. It is very easy to be led to the bright lights by the lure of working at championship winners such as Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull but this can be a damaging distraction. Manor may not have the glamour of those front running teams but opportunity is what you need in the early stage of your career and this is exactly where you will find it. A central theme in my book and blog has always been learning to spot the openings that others miss and to avoid the temptation to follow the crowds. As a team like Manor quietly builds itself up out of the spotlight there are far more new jobs being created here than in any of the bigger teams. If you are serious about working in F1 then you need to see this for the opportunity that it is and you would be a fool to ignore it.

The downside of the team’s small size however is that the diversity of technologies and activities that it will be involved with may be limited and therefore so will your scope of work. You will see plenty of the bread and butter operation of a racing team but you will not be afforded the luxury of pursuing and optimising an area of interest in vast detail. It depends on what you enjoy and whether you want to be a big fish in a little pond or vice versa.

Another aspect to be aware of is the fact that in small and uncompetitive teams the atmosphere can easily slip away to become negative and pessimistic. It’s often difficult to see a bright future when you are competing against such well financed and well equipped rivals. Again much of this comes down to your personality and whether you can put that behind up you and just enjoy the challenge.

How do I get a job there?

Manor are recruiting heavily again as they start to rebuild their team. Their website details current vacancies as you might expect and several agencies and jobs boards are carrying their adverts.

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 07.07.06

In these moments, opportunities for newcomers are often very good as although the team want experienced people to oversee the new organisation then the foot soldiers will often be inexperienced or newcomers to the sport entirely. If you are in a position to apply then go for it as there is little to lose.

A willingness to learn and a keenness to put in the hard graft and hours will be your greatest weapon here and so you should aim to convince the team that you will provide bang well beyond your buck for them.

https://manorracing.wordpress.com/jobs-board/

As I mentioned earlier on, Manor are on the verge of a move to share part of the new Prodrive factory in Banbury and as I understand they will be sharing facilities such as catering and site services. Crucially however I believe that a collaboration on some technical facilities is also a possibility and therefore there will be a grandstand view of the “new” team from within Prodrive. Knowing Prodrive boss Dave Richards I would be amazed if that collaboration does not become greater in the future and so jobs at Prodrive may provide an excellent back-door route into Manor F1. It would certainly be a golden networking opportunity.

http://www.prodrive.com/#!careers/c66t

The future of Manor F1 team will of course depend largely upon a stable financial structure but it will also rely heavily upon a sensible and successful recruitment program. The right people make or break a race team and that is especially true in the formative years of an organisation. The team will be looking to recruit bright and promising youngsters to help take them into the future years.

The team remains on uncertain ground until it establishes itself as a consistent midfield runner but the DNA of the team is the same as that one which scored points at Monaco last year. The difficult winter has been a huge setback from which it will need time to recover but if it can get through the next few seasons as a going concern then there is very possibly a bright future for Manor F1 team.

Good luck.

Where do I find out more ?

Web : http://manorf1team.com
Twitter : @ManorF1Team
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/ManorRacing

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8 Comments

  1. Yet again great insight following from the previous look at the Brackley based team. Former students of mine are working for both teams and yes their experiences are different. Certainly teams like Manor F1 can provide more variety and exposure as they are much smaller . One of my contacts whose career stretches back to Group C beyond, is always keen to point out that in his day, he designed the car, help build it and then race engineered the car and the drivers. Those days may well have passed but it is true that cutting your teeth lower down in motorsport can give you a greater smile.

    cranclive
  2. Do you have any advice on what to do when I have applied for the lead software engineer position and they don’t even answer? I know that there are probably lots of applicants and I do a late career change so I have not a CV with lots of motorsport. The thing with working with developing software is that there is not much to do in the lower series. So far I’ve only heard that F1 teams do their own software.

    However, I hoped that 35 years of experience in software development and self employed, would make some impression.

    Per Lundholm
    1. Hi.

      Tough one. Sometimes recruitment in F1 is very slow, months rather than weeks as the day to day often gets in the way. It may be this kind of delay but there is no guarantee.

      If it’s lead software engineer then they may want motorsport experience and therefore ignore you. It’s a harsh reality. You should wait one month minimum and then call them. Be bold and try to find the name of the existing software guy and call him direct. You’ll get a better answer.
      You are right about “lower formulas” but I think in this case it’s a distraction. The drivers follow the racing ladder but engineers don’t necessarily need to do the same. The Motorsport industry is much larger than just racing teams. The tools and technologies that are used by racing teams, including software, are developed by racing specialists NOT by lower formula teams. McLaren Electronic Systems develop many tools for F1 and high level racing but Magnetti Marelli, Bosch, AiM, Cosworth, MoTeC and Racelogic develop a range of electronic and software system and supply enthusiasts and professional race teams alike. You’ve probably never heard of half of these companies but that’s a good thing as neither have half of your fellow software engineers. There would not be anything like the competition for a job there as there is for the Manor job. The best thing is that if you put one of THESE companies on your CV, I bet you will then get the interview at Manor next time.
      Does that make any sense?

      work_in_f1
      1. Thanks! It certainly made sense. I also suspected this was the matter, that there are companies out there doing software products for an open racing market. I just yet have to find them.

        Also, from the kind of work I do, helping software teams be more agile and faster while keeping quality, I know there is a lot of improvements to do. I suspect the F1 teams are no exception.

        I know McLaren has used the word “agile” in job ads but the rest of the ad just showed they hadn’t really got the gist of it. My reading, of course, but I see a lot of people just adopting the ceremonies of Agile without getting the benefits of it. Oops, a rant. 🙂

        Thanks very much anyhow and keep the posts coming. Shall read your book again, Richard.

        Per Lundholm
  3. Once again thanks a lot for the information. As a newcomer, it is not surprising that Manor is struggling right now but that is not what is important, what’s important is that they are fighting to stay in F1 and compete. I am sure that they will eventually make it. And I can’t wait for an article on Williams :-).
    Cheers.

    Wuntia
    1. I’m hoping to do the teams 1 or 2 each week so won’t be long!

      work_in_f1
  4. Good day
    While a Team Principal has the final say in startegy, I am interested in your thoughts on the path to becoming a race engineer ( if that is what it is called) ; the person who looks up all options and determines the best-suited configuration of the car for each race. Additionally, how much of this role is data analysis and how much is design? And Is this one person or a team working in Tandem?

    Thank you for he F1 blogs. As you say, there are many forms of racing, however to those of us not in F1 It is a very hard thing to see! Thank you for the Manor team insight and I look forward to the upcoming team insights

    Regards,
    Asha

    Asha

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