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


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

Introduction

Formula 1 is an incredibly diverse yet volatile industry. There are many paths you can take to be involved with the sport, however, all of them are fiercely competitive. 

If you are serious about Motorsport and have your targets set firmly in F1 then you should be prepared for a rocky road of long working days, high stakes operations and fast-paced environments. 

If you have always shown bias towards mathematics and data-driven activities, then look no further. In this article, Motorsport Engineer explains exactly what makes a successful Simulation Engineer and how you can become one. 

What is a Simulation Engineer?

A Simulation Engineer is responsible for the running, preparation and development of simulation tools. 

The Simulation Engineering role can be fairly diverse, covering many aspects of the business. Race simulation, engine simulation and aerodynamic simulation are all branches within the same Engineering title. 

Sim Engineers often have combined roles with ‘Modeling Engineers’ and the two positions go hand in hand. Both roles consist of mathematical, numerical modelling and vehicle dynamics skills along with the ability to write quality coding towards the development of simulations in the factory. 

The simulation engineering position is mainly office based with the potential to use and support the running of the racing simulator. Tasks related to the simulator can include hardware and software development, development driver tuning and feedback review, algorithmic and mathematical improvements to the sim tools and more.

Systems such as 3D multi-body and 1D simulations can be daily tasks for the Sim Engineer, developing and researching new ways to continuously innovate and develop models and simulation further, while pragmatically meeting the engineering requirements of the Team

The role can be hugely rewarding and is an integral part of the development of the race car. As track testing is limited to only 8 days a year, real improvements to vehicle design and driver development are made through simulation techniques. 

What does a Formula 1 Simulation Engineer do?

As an F1 Simulation Engineer, you will:

  • Work individually but also departmentally and be required to collaborate with the Senior Simulation Engineer and on occasions, report to the Performance Engineering team to develop new vehicle simulation traits 
  • The role will be mainly office-based, with the opportunity to be involved with the running and design of the racing simulator.
  • Be responsible for the development of the simulator as a performance enhancing tool 
  • Build and improve hardware and software related to the process of simulation 
  • Support simulator sessions and testing 
  • Develop and maintain physical models, sub-models and simulation algorithms to meet the requirements of current simulation methodologies

The majority of the role will be;

                                                                                  data-driven, so a strong mathematical background is preferential. 

What are the Requirements Needed for a Simulation Engineer?

As previously mentioned, a strong mathematics background is required with proven experience working within a data-driven role with a bias to motorsport. 

An understanding of simulation tools such as; multi-body dynamics, Simpack, AVL EXCITE, and other CFD and CAD packages will be needed as the role is heavily computational. 

Depending on which area of the business you fall into; race, aero, drivetrain, chassis etc will require slightly different backgrounds and experience. The basic understanding can be said, if you want to get into engine simulation, some motorsport experience within a drivetrain role would be essential. Likewise, if you want to get into aerodynamic simulation, an aeronautical background is prefered. 

Coding and programming can also fall under the responsibility of the Simulation Engineer, so proficiency in programming tools like C++, Python and MATLAB is advantageous. 

Do you need a Degree to be a Simulation Engineer?

Yes, as with most engineering roles in formula 1, a STEM related or Mathematics, Physics degree is almost always required. With a PhD or Masters degree preferred. 

There are also internship and graduate programmes available that provide you with an easier ‘ladder approach’ into the business. These are also incredibly competitive and require an aptitude towards motorsport to outshine your peers. 

Many teams offer internships as a way to get your foot into Formula 1 and can create promising job opportunities in the future that might not otherwise have been available.  

The Best Skills and Experience needed to be a Simulation Engineer

Simulation Engineers require you to be numerically and statistically biased and to be able to analyse simulation techniques to the tenth degree. 

The large difficulty in simulation engineering is to mimic real-world characteristics through algorithmic and mathematical data. Especially if you have never driven or been in a race car yourself, therefore, having single-seater or other high-level motorsport experience will play in your favour. 

Having a motorsport background or experience within a motorsport setting is massively advantageous in any F1 role. However, having a minimum of 3 years experience of simulation methodology within an automotive or aeronautical industry can still hold merit. 

A natural leader and forward thinker with the ability to bring on new and exciting concepts and theories related to simulation will always shine in an interview.  

Like with all roles in large moving businesses, the ability to work within a team is essential as well as the ability to work on your own and be able to make conscious, fast-paced decisions in a high-stakes environment. 

Formula 1 demands the best out of their people, so proven success stories will significantly support your application.