- What is a Vehicle Dynamics Engineer?
- What does a Vehicle Dynamics Engineer do?
- What skills do you need to become a Vehicle Dynamics Engineer?
A modern Formula 1 car has hundreds of complex pieces, making it difficult to comprehend how they connect and how that affects the dynamic behaviour of the car. Every component of a race car must be carefully built to function together and maintain traction on the track, increasing the chances of setting up a winning car. This is where an F1 Vehicle Dynamics Engineer enters the scene.
In the motorsport world, the main purpose of vehicle dynamics is to determine how powerful and fierce a car can be on the track. This is why vehicle dynamics science is present in Formula 1 to understand the dynamics and kinematics of the car from a physics and mathematics perspective to optimise performance and balance.
As once said, ‘With great power comes with great responsibility’, vehicle dynamics are in the pole position to define the forefront of innovation in Formula 1. With this article, Motorsport Engineer will provide aspiring F1 Vehicle Dynamics Engineers with must-know facts before making it to the industry.
What is a Vehicle Dynamics Engineer?
A Vehicle Dynamics Engineer is responsible for the entire development cycle of a race car, prioritising the car modelling improvement and optimisation for acceleration, braking, handling and performance. The process involves, for instance, suspension concepts, vehicle dynamic behaviour correlation and setup and performance development.
The ultimate purpose of a Vehicle Dynamics Engineer when optimising a vehicle’s performance is to develop both longitudinal and lateral car accelerations generated through the tyre forces. Apart from this, applicable components, such as suspension, wheels and chassis are carefully designed to ensure the best conditions for the car’s performance.
Vehicle Dynamics Engineers are invaluable assets within any F1 team, as they lead the definition, development and validation of vehicle dynamics mechanisms to incorporate into the vehicles. As a very computational systematic role, the majority of the work will be conducted through data analysis and simulation and programming tools including MATLAB and Simulink.
Alongside the other engineers, they secure the delivery of high-level vehicle characteristic targets that will always be decisive in the results achieved on the track.
What does a Vehicle Dynamics Engineer do?
As an F1 Vehicle Dynamics Engineer, you will:
- Analyse data to improve the car’s performance from a suspension car behaviour aspect.
- Creating and originating unique suspension concepts to obtain car performance.
- Measure new tools, methods and procedures to evaluate and enhance car behaviour.
- Operate pre-event simulations intended for suspension ride and handling performance on the track.
- Provide performance metrics for simulation, race and test events.
- Develop simulation models designed at both component and vehicle levels.
The typical Vehicle Dynamics Engineer’s tasks can go from vehicle and rig data breakdown, suspension kinematic improvement, ride and handling optimisation, as well as the development of methods and tools. It also includes communication and cooperation with different team departments, including the aero performance side and design-build and setup group. When it comes to performance evaluation, it is required assistance from the Operations Room at tests and races.
What are the requirements needed to become a Vehicle Dynamics Engineer?
Similar to any other kind of engineer in F1, you must be well-prepared to be in this demanding environment. You will need to have an outstanding skill set to make it through as a Vehicle Dynamics Engineer.
Having previous experience or training in a related role in Motorsport should be beneficial for an aspiring Vehicle Dynamics Engineer, along with qualifications in relevant Engineering courses. Work experiences at F1 teams are usually the best way for emerging talent to enter the industry, and this is no exception.
For this position, it is generally advantageous to have vehicle dynamics principles knowledge, which includes multi-body systems and data logging and calibration expertise.
Another very important requirement is to retain tenacious analytical and programming skills that will be essential for data analysis and modelling techniques.
Do you need a degree to be a Vehicle Dynamics Engineer?
To be a Vehicle Dynamics Engineer, you will need a strong academic background preferably in Dynamics and Vibrations, Mechanics or Applied Mathematics.
For this role, it is highly required to possess an Engineering Degree with experience in Vehicle Dynamics or equivalent. In some cases, companies may look for someone with further higher education levels, such as a Master’s degree or PhD in Mechanical Engineering, Automotive Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering or Physics.
What are the best skills and experience needed to be a Vehicle Dynamics Engineer?
To be successful, you will need a good understanding of data analysis tools and techniques and experience in vehicle simulation modelling. Moreover, an excellent working knowledge of MATLAB and Simulink software and proficiency in vehicle dynamics principles, car ride and handling behaviour will be indispensable in your career.
Like most F1 professionals, a Vehicle Dynamics Engineer must have efficient communication and teamwork skills, combined with confidence in working in a fast-paced engineering environment. It is also helpful to be a flexible, resilient, quick-thinker, detailed-oriented and problem-solving individual.
As your first steps as a Vehicle Dynamics Engineer, this role can certainly be challenging but very rewarding by any means when you reach the pinnacle of the industry. If you are passionate about F1 and engineering, nothing can go wrong with this career path.