- What is a Race Engineer?
- What does a Race Engineer do?
- What skills do you need to become a Race Engineer?
In the Formula 1 world, the drivers do not just conquer victories. They are the main protagonists of F1 teams, but it is important to understand this wouldn’t be possible without loads of work and preparation done alongside engineers behind the scenes. These encompass performance, legality and safety duties that need to be safeguarded on and off the track.
This responsibility belongs to Race Engineers, considered the backbones of a racing team. Race Engineers are crucial assets in every Formula 1 team, as they are the ones who ensure drivers and their vehicles are attuned to put on a show on the track.
They will cover drivers’ backs offering constant communication the whole duration of the races while taking control of the car’s functioning. Despite the chaotic atmosphere, this position requires you to effectively apply your technical and social skills.
In this article, Motorsport Engineer indicates how you can get to the pinnacle of motorsport as an F1 Race Engineer and what is expected within the role.
What is a Race Engineer?
A Race Engineer is responsible for controlling and evaluating the vehicle’s performance received from the feedback given by the driver and telemetry. The main goal is to obtain the finest behaviour between and during races from the vehicle and driver through consistent communication between the driver, engineers and mechanics.
Several engineers deliver information to Race Engineers including aerodynamic, performance, tire, controls and strategy engineers. They constantly communicate with these individuals throughout the race to guarantee that the drivers perform at their maximum potential on the track.
Other duties also include first-hand management of the vehicle mechanics, certification of compliance with regulations and organisation of the testing schedule. The race engineer attempts to make these actions happen as smoothly as possible for the driver.
Most work is focused on improving performance aspects regarding the requests of the driver. For instance, it may be needed to perform adjustments in engine calibrations, suspension or aerodynamics, which influence the performance of the vehicle on the race track.
Outside the race track, Race Engineers examine factual data to establish the car setup before the coming race event or test. As a result of gathering performance data, Race Engineers in Formula 1 have been gaining more prominence in this ground.
What does a Race Engineer do?
As an F1 Race Engineer, you will:
- Manage vehicle mechanics and racing equipment.
- Conduct car setups in garages.
- Monitor and review performance data.
- Develop strategies for long-term performance enhancement of drivers.
- Supervise vehicle condition alongside the technical crew.
- Instruct drivers during the race through continuous communication.
- Take over pre-race debriefing meetings.
The role of a Race Engineer is versatile and ever-changing, so you should be ready to carry out a wide range of responsibilities.
An F1 Race Engineer’s tasks differ from handling vehicle mechanics to reviewing existing data to optimise car and driver performance before entering the track and cooperating with the team during the race or test event.
What are the requirements needed to become a Race Engineer?
Most Formula 1 engineers encounter numerous ways to get their careers started, but they have similar requirements to advance further into the motorsport industry.
Considering how impactful an F1 Race Engineer can be, becoming one involves years of higher education combined with relevant work experience in a racing team.
To become an F1 Race Engineer, you will need a great academic background to make you minimally qualified. The ideal qualifications would be a strong degree in Mechanical, Automotive Engineering or equivalent. Studies in Material Science, Mathematics or Physics are also well-perceived, as they could be a bonus to increase your chances.
Such a significant position calls for experience, so you must have assembled a compelling resume to stand out from the competition. It is recommended to find any experience through volunteering activities for race events or motorsport teams that will open doors for better opportunities.
In the case of graduates with internships or apprenticeship experience, they will be at an advantage as they acquired more practical experience and knowledge midst their studies. Prior working experience with motorsport teams is mandatory to step into F1, as only the best will secure a place at the top of the racing sports hierarchy.
Aside from trackside experience, you will need first-class communication and interpersonal skills to thrive as an F1 Race Engineer. A proper Race Engineer must have an excellent relationship with the driver and the entire team reflecting great working performance inside and outside the track.
In some cases, the Race Engineer becomes the team’s go-to person for media coverage, especially when the driver is unreachable during the race. This emphasises the importance of having stellar social skills since it’s essential to maintain a good relationship with the media.
Being in Formula 1 means you will travel substantially with your team for the whole season. Even in the offseason period, the life of a Race Engineer will involve a lot of travelling filled with training series and testing procedures but also to checking up with suppliers.
Do you need a degree to be a Race Engineer?
Aspiring F1 Race Engineers usually start their path with a Bachelor’s degree, and some even go further for a Master’s degree from an accredited university.
As mentioned earlier, it is required for you need to have a degree in Automotive or Mechanical Engineering. This will help you get the necessary knowledge of Automotive Engineering together with Race Engineering.
What are the best skills and experience needed to be a Race Engineer?
Likewise other engineer roles in Formula 1, real working experience is imperative to secure your dream job as Race Engineer. It is desirable to sharpen your skill set and technical knowledge before joining the industry, and you should not miss any opportunities to do it so.
Following graduation, some people begin working in the motorsport industry in engineering-related roles before achieving the desired promotion to a Race Engineer position. They might even invest some years working with diverse drivers until having the chance to take the wheel.
Since this role is also data related, you should have great expertise in data analysis and programming software such as ATLAS, MATLAB and Simulink. Experience with lap time simulation tools is superbly advantageous in this environment too.
It is crucial to expand automotive and race engineering knowledge, as you will need to become familiarised with vehicle mechanics. Quite simply, you must be exceptionally prepared to take ownership of a team’s car and be able to keep calm and collected under pressure. This is a job that involves a lot of versatility and requires high decision-making power.
Demonstrating the ability to communicate correctly with your driver and team is critical to be successful as a Race Engineer. Besides this, building and maintaining good relationships with teammates is something every engineer must be capable of in the Formula 1 world.
Moreover, you should attend as many races and sporting events as possible. This could be an opportunity to build enough connections to get your foot in the door and eventually join a Formula 1 team.
The ultimate goal of becoming an F1 Race Engineer is difficult to accomplish, and it is important to bear in mind that it won’t be the starting point of your career. For this kind of role, you will have to grind up in the process. Perseverance, hard work and passion will be decisive in your journey that will be very rewarding at the peak of your career.