Jobs in F1: How to Become a Formula 1 Performance Engineer

Jobs in F1

  • What is a Performance Engineer?
  • What does a Performance Engineer do?
  • What skills do you need to become a Performance Engineer? 

Introduction

Formula 1 is an incredibly volatile and competitive business. With thousands of applicants and very few positions available. Often successful candidates will fit the job spec perfectly and will be an obvious choice for employers. 

Performance Engineers are the first point of contact between the Driver’s Race Engineer and the Mechanics, it is their responsibility to set the car exactly to the drivers’ requirements, whilst optimising performance.

For this article, Motorsport Engineering will help you understand the exact requirements to be a Performance Engineer within F1 and will help advise you on the jobs specific tasks.

What is a Performance Engineer?

F1 cars are incredible machines, that are each unique and have their strengths and weaknesses. Teams rely on their car’s performance, to score valuable points that will earn them money at the end of each season. 

A performance engineer is responsible for maximising a car’s performance at each race weekend and analysing the car’s data aspects after each race or test session. 

Performance engineers will be responsible for simulations, as well as analysing telemetry and ensuring that the physical car model is set up to the specifications that are required by the driver. 

This job can be very rewarding. A high-performing car can lead the team to achieve both constructors and drivers points, podiums and wins.

What does a Formula 1 Performance Engineer Do?

As an F1 Performance Engineer, you will:

  • Work under the Director of Engineering and will be set tasks to support the race engineer, who works with a driver and speaks over the team radio
  • Performance and data analysis of the car and driver. Develop necessary data analysis tools to aid the performance analysis (Matlab/ Simulink/ Excel VBA etc).
  • You will also work with both of your team’s driver coaches, to suggest car setups that suit the drivers, as well as helping to identify balance limitations that may hinder a driver over a race weekend. 
  • You will also perform lap time simulation calculations before, during and after events.

Set-ups are a key aspect of the role, and you will be responsible for managing set-up sheets and files for both cars for simulation purposes. This helps to ensure that set-ups are optimised. You should be able to use the findings from this to suggest a future development direction.

What are the Requirements Needed for a Performance Engineer?

As with all F1 jobs, you must be a proficient communicator, as you will need to collaborate with several departments to better understand the car and the team. 

To be able to perfect the car away from the track you need to be able to work with drivers and run simulation sessions in a variety of settings. This should be enhanced by the ability to analyse and evaluate technical and simulation data, as well as geometrical information in relation to chassis configuration. 

You will also have to be able to perform research and development functions, as well as publishing post-event performance reports. 

As with all motorsports and trackside support roles, there is a risk of physical safety. If you are hoping to become a performance engineer, then you should be willing to put yourself at risk and follow all team safety precautions and guidelines.

Do you need a Degree to be a Performance Engineer?

To be considered for the role you must have a degree in a STEM subject, with Engineering disciplines as an advantage.

For an F1 internship, you will also have to be studying or have studied a STEM-based degree.

The Best Skills and Experience needed to be a Performance Engineer

To be suitable for the role, you will have to have had significant experience as a Formula One trackside engineer, at any team as either a race or performance engineer. 

Experience in other racing Formulas, such as F2 or Formula E can also make your application more attractive.

Some of the essential skills required include knowledge of either ATLAS and MATLAB, with an understanding of lap time simulation tools and simulator environments as a major advantage.

This should fit into a strong technical background in racing car performance and vehicle dynamics background. 

Other helpful skills would be a background in design, operation, build and preparation of cars and systems. 

Having strong written and verbal communication skills are essential due to the vast amount of collaboration in the team. 

If you can display examples of being unphased by high-pressure scenarios in an automotive or motorsport environment, this is a significant advantage. 

As you search for the optimum car set-up, the position is highly rewarding, which could be the difference between success and failure. The high skill and experience requirements are rewarded by an impressive salary, and the opportunity to travel the world whilst getting paid!

Would you like to know more about Performance Engineering in F1? Check our course to learn how to extract the best out of a race car. 

Extract the best out of a race car

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