CAD Design with F1 Hopeful Motorsport Engineer Student Carlos Martínez Segarra

Carlos with his thesis presentation poster from his MSc at Cranfield University (image provided by Carlos Martínez Segarra)

In the world of Formula 1, a unique combination of technical skills and innovative knowledge allows one to create the fastest machines on the planet. A crucial tool for many professionals working in Motorsport Engineering is Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software. 

Join us as we explore what it takes to master CAD design through the eyes of Carlos Martínez Segarra, an aspiring F1 engineer and a student from Motorsport Engineer’s CAD Design Career Accelerator Program. In this blog post, we will dive into Carlos’ journey, his insights on how CAD design plays a pivotal role in motorsport engineering, how this course helped him develop essential skills, and his next steps in pursuing his dream career in F1.

Welcome, Carlos! Could you share a little about yourself?

Absolutely! I’m Carlos, from Barcelona, Spain. Growing up, I’ve always had a knack for math and science—they just clicked for me. But what really captured my imagination was aerodynamics. I discovered it in my teenage years, and it struck me as this incredible blend of magic and science. 

What sparked your interest in motorsport?

Well, cars have been part of my life since day one. There’s a story in my family that I could start a car when I was just two!  Cars have always been part of my life, because my grandfather worked at Seat, and later my grandparents had their own used car business. So, you could say that my passion for cars is practically inherited.

I discovered motorsport through Fernando Alonso, who started winning in the early 2000s and became very popular in Spain, where I’m from. Watching him fight relentlessly and excel in different motorsport categories was incredibly inspiring. My passion for Formula 1 led me to become a fan of other racing disciplines like Endurance and MotoGP. I’ve had the chance to go to some races in Catalunya, Spa and Monza and I’m looking forward to discovering more venues in the future.

What did you study in school?

I did my Bachelor of Engineering in Aerospace Engineering at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) in Barcelona. I continued at the same university with a Master’s in Aeronautical Engineering. UPC’s program allows its students to spend a year abroad as part of their double-degree agreement, so I decided to take the opportunity to study at Cranfield University in the UK. There, I specialized in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), a field that I hadn’t covered during my studies, which is of critical importance in both aerospace and motorsport engineering.

Can you tell us more about what studying an MSc at Cranfield University was like?

My studies at Cranfield allowed me to deepen my understanding of fluid mechanics and computational fluid dynamics, and engage in projects that were not just challenging but also incredibly fulfilling. The diversity of my cohort added to the richness of the experience, allowing me to gain insights from different cultural perspectives. 

One of the standout projects I was part of focused on studying the wake structures of F1 cars, where we studied the turbulence generated by the 2017-2021 generation of F1 cars through an existing CAD model of a full F1 car. We implemented a trapped vortex device that induced a suction on the diffuser, which allowed us to mitigate the effects of the turbulent air behind the car. One of my tasks was to perform a clean up of the CAD model in order to be ready for CFD simulations. After thoroughly analysing all our results, we concluded that the change implemented in Formula 1 in 2022 was of utmost importance, if an improvement in close racing was to be achieved.

For my thesis at Cranfield, I continued the work we started and I studied the effect of the wake of a Formula 1 car on the trailing car at different lead lengths. I used CATIA for the clean up of the model and Fluent to generate the meshes and perform the simulations. The hands-on experience I gained through that work was invaluable, teaching me not just about the theoretical aspects of aerodynamics but also about practical solutions to real-world engineering problems.

In your opinion, what skills are essential to be a good engineer?

I firmly believe that creativity is as crucial as technical knowledge for an engineer. It allows you to approach challenges differently and see solutions where others might not. For me, one way I exercise my creativity is as a photographer. I like that the camera forces you to think about perspective – how to get a specific shot or visualise the approach to get the elusive, perfect photo. That process, to me, is incredibly similar to solving an engineering problem.

Caption: a photo taken by Carlos from 2020 Charles Leclerc Pre-Season Testing (image provided by Carlos Martínez Segarra)

What’s the next step for you, professionally?

After wrapping up my Master’s, I headed back to Spain, where I started applying for roles in the motorsport industry. My dream is to work as an aerodynamicist or as an aero designer in motorsport.

To try and reach that goal, I have been keeping up with my aero knowledge through studying, reading books about race car aerodynamics and aerodynamic theory, and taking online courses to reinforce my learning and understand more about industry trends. It’s all about preparing myself as best as I can, so when the right opportunity comes along, I’ll be ready!

Explore Motorsport Engineer Self-Paced Courses and Career Accelerator Programs

What did you learn in the Motorsport Engineer’s CAD Design Career Accelerator Program?

Even though I already knew the basics of how to use CATIA (from a course I took in university), I learned a lot in Motorsport Engineer’s course! We weren’t just designing customary parts or talking about the theory of a good design; I enjoyed that we practised F1 workflows, the kind of work that engineers at the highest level have to do to make cars perform on the track. What stood out for me was the emphasis on the basics – such as making sure that our tree structure was well-organised and robust. Having Martin’s feedback, mentorship at each step, and expertise was very helpful.

Something especially valuable in this course was that we got to work with actual F1 parts. It was great to practice working with real challenges that aero designers overcome daily. That experience was priceless and gave me a clear picture of what it’s like to work on a team.

What advice do you have moving forward – for yourself on this journey or for others looking to work in motorsport?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s the way to approach problem-solving. Sometimes the challenges can seem overwhelming and daunting, if not outright impossible. But it’s all about mindset. Breaking down these issues into manageable small steps and solving them bit by bit is the way to go. And never underestimate the power of creativity. If you have a goal in life, there will be multiple hurdles along the way, but my advice is that with hard work, commitment, determination and the right decisions during the path, you need to hope that everything will eventually work in the end. If there’s one thing I’ve got clear in my mind is that, until I reach my goal, I will not stop.

Thanks so much, Carlos! Best of luck to you!

Carlos has come a long way from his origins as a young person playing with toy cars to now holding two MSc degrees in advanced engineering – a testament to the impact of being passionate about something! Fueled by determination, education, and creativity, Carlos looks forward to being part of the next chapter of motorsport engineering.

Looking ahead, motorsport engineering is on the cusp of revolutionary changes, integrating cutting-edge technologies, new frontiers in sustainability, and more. 

Motorsport has always been about the thrill of speed and competition, but it’s also a powerful platform for engineering breakthroughs. To work at the heart of this evolution, driving forward changes (both on and off the track), is a dream for many.

Check out all of Motorsport Engineer’s courses here.

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