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What is it like to work at…Ferrari F1 team ?

The history, magic and mystique of Scuderia Ferrari is one of the greatest legends in motorsport. The passion of the tifosi and the bravery of the many incredible drivers who have taken the wheel of Ferrari F1 cars make this the most special and highly revered team in Formula 1.

In this series of posts I’ve been looking at each of the current teams, their history and some of the unique aspects of what it is like to work there. Ferarri is the oldest surviving and most successful team on the grid and yet so much mystery still surrounds it that the appeal and allure never seems to fade. For many, Ferrari simply is Formula 1 and through their rich histories the two remained very closely entwined.

The Scuderia

Formed in 1929 by Enzo Ferrari, the team has competed in every F1 world championship since it started in 1950. The blood red paintwork of the works Ferrari’s and the shrill sounds of the engines that it has produced across the decades make its cars unmistakeable and there are few people across the world who do not know what a Ferarri is or looks like.

Ferarri does not advertise and instead lets its racing success do the talking. The idea of “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” is what drives many car manufacturer race programmes but for Ferrari it was the opposite, he only built road cars in order to generate funds to go racing. Famously ruthless, winning is the only option when you work for the Scuderia and many famous drivers and engineers have been fired for not meeting expectation or speaking out against their employer.

Where is it ?

Ferrari’s Formula 1 and road car base is located in Maranello in northern Italy in the foothills of the Apennine mountains. It’s a rural setting in a small town dominated by the presence of the car company but the larger cities of Modena and Bologna are within commuting distance.

Even the place name itself makes aficionados of the prancing horse drool and many make the pilgrimage just to see the outside of the factory and the famous Fiorano test track.

What is it like to work there?

Working for the Scuderia comes with high expectations. As Enzo famously wanted of his drivers, they work primarily for the success of the team and not for themselves. Many ambitious and competitively minded drivers have fallen foul of this expectation, not least Alain Prost and most recently Fernando Alonso.

As a general employee the reality is perhaps not so ruthless but still remains daunting. The privilege and honour of working for the team means that they want blood, sweat and tears in the interest of furthering the team’s competitiveness. There is a sense that if Ferarri does not win then it is your fault rather than the team’s. Consistent poor performance frequently leads to “role re-assignment”, particularly in the higher ranks. Don’t expect to be complimented or wrapped up in cotton wool here, Ferarri is not a forgiving employer. A mix of Anglo and Italian management and shop floor workers means that temperament and politics rule the day to day environment and to survive you need to be wary of who you align yourself with and what you say. In times of crisis Ferrari had traditionally imploded as a result of internal back stabbing !

It’s a big team, with an even bigger budget to match. Ferrari is probably the best funded team on the grid and if something is needed then you can generally expect to get it. It’s something of a playground for engineers as you will very rarely be told “no” but you had better get some results in exchange for your expenditure. Whatever bit of kit or design is required then they will either have it already or they’ll go out and get it, either of which makes for a fantastic environment in which to work. Ferarri go into vast amount of detail about each aspect of the car’s performance which allows specialists to indulge themselves fully in their chosen field.

The flip side of having all these people and all of this equipment is that there is a danger of being pigeon holed into a very small or narrow niche where you get very little visibility of the overall car design. Unless you are the technical director you probably won’t get a huge freedom on what you work on but this is an unavoidable by product of being part of such a big and organised team.

Having said all that, when times are good then Ferrari know how to celebrate and often throw big end of season parties or celebrate race wins in style. Financial rewards are also very good as the team have very deep pockets. Most non-Italian employees are put onto rolling 3 year contracts which are renewed at an appropriate level depending on whether your contribution is valued or not. If things go well then most people normally do well out of a stint at Maranello. Ferarri is not for everyone but it is quite unique amongst Formula 1 teams and certainly lives up to the hype and the mystery.

How do I get a job there?

Recruitment at Ferrari is an oddity, at least for the Formula 1 team. There is a mix of Italians and imported British and other non-natives and much of it comes from word of mouth and networking. You very rarely see advertised positions at Ferarri F1. Hey have good technical ties withn various academic institutions and I know of several people who have joined following a stint of research in an appropriate area.

http://auto.ferrari.com/en_en/ongoing-heritage/company/careers/#

  

The team’s website allows you to upload your latest CV or resume but I have heard that lately they have been contacting interesting candidates via LinkedIn so if you fancy a spell in the sunshine then make sure your profile is up to date.

Where do I find out more ?

Web : formula1.ferrari.com/en/
Twitter : @ScuderiaFerrari
Facebook : www.facebook.com/ScuderiaFerrari/
LinkedIn : www.linkedin.com/company/ferrari

If the call comes, most people are at least tempted to give it a go as the lure and magic of the team is undeniable whether for drivers or mechanics and engineers. There is something very special about Ferarri whether you are a die-hard fan or not and no F1 career would be complete without a spell in a red uniform. The team typically hire foreigners on a 3 year rolling contract so it gives you plenty of time to learn a bit of Italian and sample the local pizza.

Nothing says Formula 1 more than Ferrari so what have you got to lose ? Good luck.

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6 thoughts on “What is it like to work at…Ferrari F1 team ?

  1. I’m planning to move to Europe to study a masters in Logistics, I already have a degree of international relations, but very little experience… Please contact me, i am about to make one of the most important decisions of my life in order to follow my dreams.
    Greetings from Mexico!

  2. I was wondering if you could give me some help on university choices as I am still unsure after reading all the advice you have currently given? I have offers from Cambridge, Imperial College London, Bristol, Southampton and Sheffield for aeronautical / aerospace engineering (except for Cambridge, which is general to start with and I would then have the choice to specialise in either mechanical or aerospace and aerothermal engineering). I intend to put Cambridge or Imperial as my firm choice (both offers are A*A*A) and Bristol or Southampton as my Insurance (both A*AA). I hope to complete a Year in Industry between my third and fourth years of study (courses are MEng) and I hope to work as an aerodynamicist after graduating. Would Imperial be a better option than Cambridge because the course is more specialised from the very beginning, has a few more aerodynamics / fluid dynamics modules and places more emphasis on practical work or would Cambridge be better due to its more theoretical approach, that should give me a firmer grounding in a range of fields of engineering?

    Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated so thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Ryan and thanks for the question, it’s a good one. To be honest it’s very difficult to say which is the best university to go to. None of the universities that you have mentioned are bad universities, far from it. There are people working in F1 from all of those institutions so none would be a poor choice.

      It’s probably more important to consider what you enjoy and focus on that at this stage. Recruiters are not likely to get down to the details of your individual modules provided that you have other motorsports relevant experience to discuss too.

      I would perhaps consider Year in Industry in more detail, looking at which universities have industrial links with teams and motorsports suppliers. Getting a project based on a real motorsports problem is also a really good route and that could be something to discuss. In my opinion a theoretical grounding is critical but a good element of practical experience is also essential before you try to get work.

      Hope that helps

      1. Thank you very much! In relation to your comment about links with industry, which of Cambridge and Imperial has better links with the F1 industry from your experience? I have been told that I may be able to compete a final year project based on something relating to F1 at Cambridge but the Year in Industry is integrated as part of my chosen course at Imperial so it is more common for students to take industrial placement years. However, work experience during holidays is a requirement of the course at Cambridge and it is possible to complete a full year in industry in addition to this, which I would intend to do if I chose to go there.

        1. Hi Ryan,

          From experience, I see more people from Imperial in F1 than from Cambridge, despite Cambridge’s obvious prowess. From what I understand, placement years are not an integral part of Cambridge engineering courses and not encouraged for whatever reason. Having said that, everyone takes note of a Cambridge graduate so its still not a bad option by any means.

          Getting holiday work with an F1 team is difficult (unless you know somebody). For most teams it is not worth the extra administration and resource drain to occupy students on a short term basis without the longer term payback. Year long placements are much preferred for that reason.

          Holiday work in racing may be possible (especially voluntary) but it very much depends on the company involved.

          I hope that helps.

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