Making it to Formula 1Understanding the motorsport industry

What is it like to work at… Williams F1 Team ?

Williams is a name which has an enormous amount of heritage in motorsport. It is almost universally popular amongst fans of Formula 1. The team has been through times of near unrivalled success and yet it has also recently been on the brink of extinction. Williams is a team which exists only to race and has shown a resilience and passion for motorsport which is second to none, even on the F1 grid.

The now elderly team founder Frank Williams who gave the team its name embodies this resilience both in his attitude to racing and through his own personal struggles with quadriplegia. The fact that the team has survived through numerous crises only to come back stronger to win again means that it should never be underestimated. As a motorsport employee in the making you could do a lot worse than to consider Frank’s struggles in his own life and yet be encouraged by the incredible successes that he has achieved despite his physical limitations.

Williams F1

Frank Williams has been involved in motorsport since his early twenties as a driver, mechanic and latterly as a team owner. Success has not come easy as Frank started several racing teams and constructors prior to the formation of Williams Grand Prix Engineering in 1977. Once united with engineer Patrick Head however, success came quickly and they won their first Grand Prix in 1979 and their first world championship in 1980. By the end of 1997, this tally had risen to a total of 9 constructor’s championships and 7 driver’s championships.

WGP Historic Photo
Patrick Head & Frank Williams

The Williams team has also seen great tragedy however. A road car accident on the way to an F1 test at Paul Ricard in 1986 left Frank Williams fighting for his life and permanently paralysed. He returned to the paddock however and the team bounced back to win consecutive constructor’s championships. The death of Ayrton Senna at the wheel of a Williams-Renault in 1994 again brought the team to the brink of despair but they fought on and only missed out on the championship that year by a whisker.

Many lean years were to follow however, despite backing from the mighty BMW engines and Frank resisted increasing commercial and financial pressures to sell the team. A return to form with Mercedes engines in 2014 has put Williams F1 back to the competitive end of the grid but more work needs to be done before it can beat the works teams that it is chasing.

Where is it ?

The Williams F1 team headquarters lies in a very rural location, on the northern edge of the town of Wantage. The team moved here in the late 1990’s having had its previous base under the shadow of the cooling towers of nearby Didcot power station. The site is large and self contained with 2 wind tunnels, a large manufacturing and machine shop facility in addition to well kept lawns and walking areas.

The team also boasts a large conference centre with a museum, simulator and pitstop challenge car which can be hired for corporate entertainment but also permits school and college visits. Recently, the Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) centre has boosted staff numbers and the diversity of projects that the team has been involved in. For those looking to join F1, WAE could be a golden back door opportunity to become involved with the Williams organisation and make a name for yourself.

What is it like to work there?

Williams is steeped in Formula 1 history, much of it success related and you cannot fail to notice the heritage of this team. The reception area often showcases the Williams FW14B active suspension car, commonly regarded as one of the most innovative and successful cars ever made and a large image of Senna at speed behind the wheel hangs on the back wall.

Fiercely independent it continues to defy the commercialism that has taken over many other similar teams and it proudly conducts itself as an out and out racing team. It is however an engineering company first and foremost, its design and manufacturing capability being second to none even in the F1 paddock. It is a fuss free, down to earth but deadly serious organisation that has little time for superfluous or unnecessary activity.

History also weighs heavily on its shoulders however as the death of Senna and the repercussions that it had for team have shaped a rather conservative attitude. Williams are not the innovators that they used to be and a tendency to get stuck in the past has plagued the team over the past decade. Fresh leadership and a renewed confidence should allow the team to flourish and once again lead the way in racing car design. Whatever the team’s competitiveness on track however, working at Williams is a fantastic opportunity to learn about Formula 1 and how to operate a first class racing team.

How do I get a job there?

Williams have significantly upgraded their website in recent years and now has a comprehensive careers section including some very sensible and straightforward advice on how to get a job in the motorsport industry.

http://www.williamsf1.com/pages/careers/whatweoffer

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The website details a comprehensive amount of information about their work placement, apprenticeships and taster week work experience sessions for secondary school students.

At the time of writing, Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) are recruiting heavily and offer the chance to join the Williams group with much less competition. Sharing the site, there are likely to be good opportunities to transfer internally to the race team if you are able to impress. It should not be ignored.

Where do I find out more ?

Web : www.williamsf1.com
Twitter : @WilliamsRacing
Facebook : www.facebook.com/WilliamsF1Team/
LinkedIn : www.linkedin.com/company/williams-f1-team

Other resources

You can see who else works at Williams either by going to the LinkedIn page above and finding the employee list or by clicking here. It’s useful for seeing what type of roles there are and also checking out people’s career histories prior to being at Williams.

Williams have also recently been involved in creating the “Williams Engineer of the Future” program which gives 5 students the chance to have an accelerated career development with the team.

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It’s interesting to note the Universities that the team has chosen to select its candidates from if you are wondering which institution to choose. As I explained in a previous post on the subject, the idea that one university is better than another very much comes down to personal opinion but looking at the list below you can bet that Williams management, and the majority of the other teams I should imagine, would not consider any of these institutions a poor choice.

– Andrew Lightbody, University of Bath
– Callum Frith, Imperial College London
– Oisin Scolard, Oxford Brookes University
– Elizabeth Thompson, University of Oxford
– James Nurse, Loughborough University

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If you would like to work for Williams F1 Team or any of the other teams on the F1 grid you can join our squad of Formula 1 hopefuls by subscribing to future posts from Job in F1. You can also discover everything you need to know start your own F1 career with a copy of the ultimate guidebook to F1 careers. Click here to instantly get your copy.

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