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[Table] r/formula1 – I'm an F1 Engineer/Strategist, Ask Me Anything... (pt 4 FINAL)

Previous post here.
Questions Answers
How far before a race are strategies developed at McLaren F1? And what factors go into making a strategy pre-race, or even pre-race weekend? Thanks! For flyaway races we have to pick tyres approximately 3 months before the event and for European races approximately 2 months before, so we have normally already formulated the likely strategies, etc. at this point before we decide what tyre allocation we want.
But the work can start even in advance of that, over the last day I have been simulating the next few years to try and understand some changes in regulations that may come into force and often we'll simulate an entire year to judge how impactful an upgrade may be, for example.
Who do you think was the best driver you have worked with in terms of feedback and interacting with the team? I've enjoyed working with every driver in different ways. The current pairing has been really fun though and interaction with the team is at a very high level. But then it has always been great.
How many people are lucky enough to say that they've been taken karting by Fernando, to his own karting track in Oviedo and given a tour by the man himself of his museum? It's an awesome place to work.
On average, how many years do future F1 engineers go to college and work in other motorsports before they get into F1? I am studying in mechanical engineering and would like to work in F1 one day, I just want to know how long I have to work to get to F1. I hope you and your family are safe from COVID-19 by the way. Have a good season! More and more people tend to be direct-entry into F1, but it varies a lot. Don't let that put you off, keep trying, it will happen eventually.
Which circuit is the most difficult to build a strategy around? Each circuit offers its own challenges and peculiarities.
Circuits with a high chance of safety cars (e.g. Monaco, Singapore) or with high likelihood of changeable weather (e.g. Belgium) can be very tricky to formulate and execute a good strategy at.
Are machine learning algorithms used to calculate the race strategies? If no, is this a technologie that is being developed at the moment in F1? We are using elements of machine learning methods. I'm a firm believer that this is the right way forward. I can't say too much more though, as who knows who may be reading...
Can I still try something? I've seen people asking about engineering jobs and how to get them, but I work in Marketing with a background in, well, History. Would you have something to say about marketing jobs too? Being from Brazil and watching races since Senna, dreaming about being in F1 is standard! Not my area of expertise - although I am seconded there at the moment! I think History would be fine and relevant experience and passion for motorsport are probably the attributes that matter the most.
Is there a difference in setup between clockwise and anticlockwise tracks, given that we might see a backwards Silverstone? I personally don't think we'll see a backwards Silverstone. And yes, there can be, cars are not always set-up symmetrically (understandable).
Hello, i know i may be late but let me give it a shot. Do F1 teams Hire QA engineers and if they do, what are the desired skillset for a QA engineer in an F1 team? Most teams will have a team of quality personnel - so you’re in luck there.
In terms of skills required that’s not really my area of expertise but I’d imagine you’d want an engineering degree, knowledge of quality tools and software, an ability to understand engineering technical drawings, good communications and time management skills. Experience with high quality/complexity and low volume manufacturing may also be useful.
Hi Randy, Not sure if you’re still answering questions on here but I’ll give it a go! I’ve just finished studying a Motorsport Engineering BEng this year and feel somewhat let down by my course (I am on course for a 2:1). I didn’t feel like I gained enough hands-on experience whilst studying (such as machining and other practical manufacturing skills) to fully apply myself to an engineering career, which has made me end up feeling a bit lost. I was just wondering if you have any advice on how you can develop these skills post graduation. I was thinking work experience hands on in a machining/manufacturing company but I was unsure if the time spent in one of these jobs may effect my future chances of securing engineering employment. Would love to hear what you think! Thanks, Ellis Hi Ellis,
I left university with pretty much zero practical experience and probably have less than you even now! I'm getting some as I go along though. I wouldn't worry too much but also you've identified a good area to improve.
If I were you I would concentrate on finding an engineering role as the primary job you have - if that's where you want to end up (engineering) and then try in your spare time to gain practical experience - you don't have to do it through work, you can gain a lot of mechanical understanding through hobby projects if you're willing to put the time in.
Best of luck!
What's the very first thing you start working on for a specified weekend; whether it be months beforehand in the winter break, or days and weeks before right after the previous event? Typically choosing tyres, 2 or 3 months in advance is when we must nominate by.
How do you guys accurately estimate the amount of fuel put in the car for each race? It seems like a lot of calculations there. Too much and the car ends up being unnecessarily heavy, too less and the car ends up running out of fuel. It's not an easy task. Typically this is done by the performance engineers on each car, but it's a complex process, with the high-level points discussed below - I shouldn't go into detail, of course:
* Estimate from simulations and later from track running what the fuel consumption is for different types of laps (timed laps of various speeds, in laps, out laps, traffic laps, etc.)
* Predict what the pace will be in the race (trickier than it sounds - ambient conditions have an impact, track condition/rubbering, strategy, etc.).
* Predict how the race will unfold (one for us) - will there be lapping, safety cars, how much traffic, how many in and out laps, etc.
* Use the above to come up with a fuel load.
* Apply some statistics/risk management, consider the variation on the parameters and risks associated with those.
* Find an overall fuel load that is calculated based on the above.
* (Probably put a completely different amount of fuel into the car).
I'm currently a student in mechanical engineering in France and my dream would be to get involved in formula 1 or Motorsports in general.. I feel like I chose the right career path but since most teams are in the UK, how difficult is it for a foreigner to join an f1 team ? I've noticed a couple of French engineers (Frederic Vasseur, Gasly's and Raikkonen's race engineers to name a few), how important is it to get a job without any contacts already in f1 ? Do you recommend starting with feeder series first ? Thank you for doing this AMA, good luck for this season. You don't and shouldn't need contacts. Don't let that stop you.
Feeder series can be a good way in, as can graduate entry schemes or internships.
H Randy, From F1 history, what has been your favourite strategy call? Are you looking forward to Mercedes engines next year? Thank you! A difficult one - because of the point I made elsewhere, you can't really "outperform" in strategy, you can just maximise your car and driver's potential (or not).
However, one of the things that got me interested in strategy in the first place was the 4 stop race at the 2004 French Grand Prix - listening to Ross Brawn talk about it at later points was what really got me into strategy.
Some of the Red Bull strategies just before I joined F1 were also very inspiring - in their heyday of winning championships they were also very appropriately (balanced) risk-taking at what I think were the right times.
How does track strategy change from year to year? Typically the big changes will be if the tyres are different or the ambient conditions are very different (as the tracks don't really change layout often).
However, each race is different - so even with the same parameters they can play out very differently.
Is there one specific best way to be able to work in formula 1 or is it different for everyone? What path did you follow and how did you gain experience? It can be different for many people - I won't cover my path again, posted in the thread elsewhere, but I came from a finance/consulting background, many others come straight from university or working in other industries too.
What do you want F1 to change the most? For me I want the rules to be more flexible, so teams can test out innovation and creative ways to solve a problem That's a difficult one, I think the sport is rapidly moving towards a better destination, with rules and regulations that should lead to closer competition.
Personally, I would like to see more strategic and tactical choices (e.g. tyre allocations for the year) but these may be alienating to fans (and that matters more) and would only generally work if the field is closer (which is already being actioned).
Can you share your favourite photo of your time there so far? Last question I'm answering I think.
Here's the extended strategy team, last time we went out to celebrate a half year together. Without these guys and girls the job would not be the same.
Hi Randy, thanks for doing this. What is it like working at the MTC? Do you sometimes get the time to go for a walk in the grounds there just to take in what looks to be an amazing facility? Also, how well has you and your team (and the wider team in general) adapted to working from home in these tough times? Are you able to collaborate effectively while being in home isolation? Cheers for answering :) It's amazing working at the MTC. It's such an architecturally interesting building and is surrounded by beautiful grounds. When the weather is not terrible we'll often go for a walk during our lunch break and I've made a few very long bicycle rides over during lockdown to see it again. It's even nicer than Castle Barnard, but we don't have an opticians on site!
We're currently also in an F1 shutdown, so there is not much working going at the moment, however, the team have adapted really well, it's not the same but we do lots of video calls, etc. and people have adapted really well. I think, for our team at least in Strategy, we'll try and keep some of the positive elements of working from home when we eventually return to normalcy.
Hey Randy, first I wanted to say thanks for the amazing AMA you put on, it’s a great resource for those of us who are interested. I will be a freshman in college in the United States this year, majoring in mechanical engineering. My ultimate goal is to work in engineering in motorsports, hopefully in a trackside role. I plan on participating in formula sae. I was wondering what other advice you would give on breaking into motorsports, and also breaking into formula 1 as an American. Thanks Thank you.
I think I've covered most of that but to your question about what you can do as an American - you have a rich motorsports industry in the US so I think what you can do above some others is to go and get some relevant experience, this could take many forms from some local motorsport all the way up to NASCAR and IndyCar.
How much will the 2022 regulations affect strategy? Following and passing may be easier than currently and that is likely to increase the preferred number of pitstops, all else being equal, which should make strategies more interesting for fans and a bit more prone to execution issues for strategists (but a bit easier for drivers).
The tyres are also changing and changes in behaviour there could have larger impacts on strategy but we will have to wait and see to understand what direction these will move us in (we do have an expectation).
Hi Randy! If somehow you read although I am 20 days late, that's great! My question is does Mclaren (and other teams) have a trackside aerodynamic engineer. If so, what does an aerodynamicist do trackside? Another question I have is that are all engineer roles rotating each race weekend? For example: an engineer from the factory is called up to go travel with team to the next weekend, an so on. This AMA is really interesting, btw huge Mclaren fan! Hi,
Most teams will have a Trackside Aerodynamics Engineer. What do they do - I think they make sure the wings are on the right way around, else the car would take off...!
Seriously though, I can't answer that question as well as one of our Principal Aerodynamicists who also acts as Trackside Aerodynamics Engineer, Andreas Ruhrmann, who kindly provided the information below:
The role can vary across teams, but typically the following items are covered when trackside:
* Ensuring the aerodynamic specification of the cars are as intended.
* Liaising with race engineering to ensure details of the run plans satisfy the aerodynamic requirements.
* Verifying the quality of the aerodynamic surfaces and improving (with the help of the race team) where possible.
* Verifying the required sensors are reading as expected and work with the system technicians to resolve any issues.
* Discussing aerodynamic results with the factory support team.
* Working with logistics to ensure the correct parts are available trackside.
What is the best fuel additive and lubricant (for oil) you have come across for engines? I'm afraid I have no idea at all (and if I did I perhaps wouldn't be able to answer this one).
Fuel and lubricants are an area of intense competition across suppliers, we often have members of the supplier dealing with them directly as well and analysing the samples - there's a lot of work into getting it right (and therefore the details are closely guarded).
You can get an idea of what kind of stuff is/is not allowed (which may also tell you about effectiveness) by looking at Article 19 of the Technical Regulations (available here: https://www.fia.com/regulation/category/110 ).
Who's your favourite driver that you've worked with at McLaren and why? Best of luck for future races. My answer here could get me in trouble...
So I'll say Gil de Ferran - he's the only one who's talked to me about statistical distributions...
What techniques do you use to model/predict development of a race realtime? Are you doing any kind of (Deep) Reinforcement Learning, Bayesian models/Probabilistic Graphical Models, direct simulation, group of "wise people"...? How do you score each technique? Do you look back to see which one worked when and adjust weights accordingly for the future? I can't go into details, I'm afraid, but all of those methods have been used at one time or another, or for one problem or another. We monitor which methods work and we do try and weight accordingly such that we constantly get better.
Hi, I was wondering would you ever consider different but similar industries (eg Motorsport/MotoGP)? If not is there any reason? For example, Financial or Personal Preference to F1. Thanks Todd I really was always interested in strategy and I think F1 has it at a different level to other motorsports - given the regulations.
That's not to put a downer on other series, if I were able to and once I feel like I've accomplished my mission with F1 strategy I wouldn't say no to trying (probably badly!) strategy for a race like Le Mans, where you manage it over 24 hours, for F2 where there are some extra constraints, or for Formula E where there is some ongoing energy management too.
The Australian MotoGP race at Philip Island where they had pitstops was fascinating and is still something that sticks in my head to this day!
Hi I’m a second mech student from Bristol and I’m really interested in working in f1, I would love if you could answer a few of my questions! - what was your track to f1 (hehe get it)? - any tips/ things you wish you knew? - what’s the merch game like? - is it something you see yourself doing forever or just in the short term? - how many times to you risk it and roll the dice in races, is there pressure, what if you get it wrong? Thanks so much, and good luck in 2020!!! I've answered most of these elsewhere so I won't repeat, but those I haven't:
* The stash is strong! I have too many McLaren t-shirts (never thought that would be possible) - thankfully they are great as gym gear.
* I don't see myself doing a different kind of career outside of F1.
How did you celebrate that Brazil podium? My first beer (my first non water drink!) in 10 months - thanks to Carlos. Lots of photos with the trophy. But most importantly, just lots of random chats/conversations from teammates that you don't often get enough time with.
Hey Randy! Thanks for this AMA. Are you excited to go to zandvoort next year? (Shame it is not happening this year) All the teams dont have any data on the track and the last corner is banked so that is a rare one for the tyres. Do you like that there is no data about the track and the free practice is realy important? There are going to be a lot of "orange" McLaren fans there for you guys ;) Thanks man, keep up the good work I'm very much looking forward to it - I've never been to Zandvoort before - it's a shame its not this year.
As a strategist, new races can be very exciting. There is a lack of data, lots of stuff is estimated/calculated and has to be verified during the race weekend on the fly. I think they are exciting and enjoyable because they are harder to get right than races that happen every year with a lot of history and that means doing a good job can have more reward (as teams tend to have more varied performance) and conversely doing a bad job carries more penalty.
I'm going to be claiming that every "orange" fan is a McLaren one!
This is something I've always wondered when I heard Lewis say in an interview that Australia is the 2nd/3rd (can't exactly remember which) hardest track to overtake on. These stats would influence strategy I imagine so are you able to disclose a rough list of the easiest/hardest tracks? If not, is there a consensus amongst teams as to what the pecking order is (barring the obvious Monaco is hardest etc.). Would be fascinated to find this out and thank you so much for the AMA! It will depend on a number of factors, some tracks can be easy to overtake with a given pace difference, but it may be hard to generate the pace difference (e.g. tyres don't degrade much), or it may require a much larger straight line performance difference versus a cornering performance difference.
Typically though, it is not giving away much to say that some of the hardest tracks, in no particular order, all else being equal would include Monaco, Singapore, Australia and Hungary. Some of the easiest, on the same basis may include Bahrain, Canada, Belgium and Austria.
the below is a reply to the above
Thank you very much! Canada intuitively makes sense that it's an easy track to overtake on but I remember in recent years it's been quite difficult for an on-track overtake to happen (Thinking HAM on VET 19, OCO on PER '18, ROS on VES '16) but perhaps this is just selective memory. The reason Canada can seem difficult is that it can be quite difficult to achieve a given pace delta to the car you are attempting to overtake as the tyre degradation is typically very low.
Hi Randy, Thanks for doing this AMA! What's the biggest thing about Lando Norris that you (and the team) knows but the general public don't really know about? He's just genuinely a very nice guy, who works hard and is very easy to get on with and have a chat about work (or not work) with.
How did you get to F1? Recently I've been going on my (push)bike but normally I drive - I live quite far away!
More seriously - there's a very long (and boring) answer here: https://www.reddit.com/formula1/comments/go6c9m/im_an_f1_engineerstrategist_ask_me_anything/frh45hn?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x.
Have you seen the ferrari stratagy memes? I've just written a detailed answer about the perception of the quality of Ferrari strategy (https://www.reddit.com/formula1/comments/go6c9m/im_an_f1_engineerstrategist_ask_me_anything/fs05dum?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x) so please don't take this comment as a reflection of my opinion of Ferrari's strategy which I have answered in the link.
But yes, we've seen the Ferrari memes, as well as all of the others!
What formecurrent f1 driver would you want to work with? Of drivers I have never worked with, or am not due to work with next year, I think I would very much like to work with Lewis, Charles or Max - all of whom I think are performing at the top of their game.
Of past drivers, Stirling Moss always struck me as someone who was incredibly talented and humble and I can imagine working with him would have been good fun (and very easy).
Hi Randy, I know this is a very late question, but in terms of recommendations for books that are helpful to read or that you found interesting what would you suggest? I want to study aeronautical engineering and am about to start reading Newey’s book on aerodynamics but was wondering if you knew any other great books that are quite technical. Thank you! Hi, I gave a list of non-technical books that I found useful here: https://www.reddit.com/formula1/comments/go6c9m/im_an_f1_engineerstrategist_ask_me_anything/frzt5qa?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x, in terms of technical books, I would recommend the below (you've obviously picked a great place to start with Newey's book):
* Race Car Vehicle Dynamics by Milliken and Milliken, really a bit of a seminal one that most people in F1 will have read or at least heard of.
* The Science of Vehicle Dynamics by Massimo Guiggiani, another great read.
* Prepare, Engineer and Drive to Win (3 books) by Carroll Smith.
Those all cover your more typical "vehicle dynamics" and "race engineering" side of things. I'm not quite sure for more aerodynamics-focused books (other than Newey's) but also an understanding of the above will only help in your aerodynamics endeavours.
the below is a reply to the above
Oh my goodness Randy this is amazing! Thank you so so much for replying, despite my super late question :) I’ll be sure to get reading, this will help my UCAS application and my general interests so much! Thanks once again. No worries. They won’t be easy reads necessarily before university - but stick it through mate!
How does someone looking for a future in a similar role progress towards involvement in Motorsport? I thought it would be quite easy for me being in New Zealand but all available opportunities always require 5+ years of experience. I've answered the main part of the question elsewhere, but in terms of getting through the door it's hard but possible. I offered to do stuff for free for my first experience, then managed to get a small journalist gig and just tried to build from there.
Thank you for your wonderful answers so far, Randy! This is a long shot and I'm asking mostly out of curiosity: As a biomedical engineer, is there a spot in an F1 team for someone with my background? How important is the human aspect of the engineering for an F1 team? No worries.
I would doubt that there are many, if any, spots to work as a biomedical engineer - but you could take those skills and add some knowledge on mechanical engineering or some other areas and work in F1 having originally been a biomedical engineer - if that makes sense?
How do you feel being a part of two historic teams in F1, Williams and McLaren? And Force India! It's honestly a privilege, I would have killed for any of these 3 roles that I've had at any of these 3 teams - I am so lucky to be in this spot.
Each of the teams has been great in its own way:
* Starting off at Williams, with the incredible heritage and history, working at one of the greatest British F1 teams ever as my first job was amazing. Getting to sit in an FW26 and explaining how pitstop practice went to Sir Frank was just a real privilege.
* Force India, although the time was short, was a really efficient, fun place to work. Not a lot of people but really a team that has achieved so much, with (relatively) so little. Made you realise how much a single person can contribute.
* And McLaren, not because I'm here now do I have to say edges it as my favourite. It has the heritage, the past successes give people a real drive to succeed and return to that kind of performance and I have to say its just the most fun place I've worked and with the most intelligent people I've ever worked with.
Hi! Don't know if you still answering but asking anyway: have you heard of any ex-videogame engineers working in F1 team in any capacity? Thanks for this great AMA and have a good 2020 at McLaren! I haven't, but I imagine the skills could be transferable depending on what kind of role you desire (e.g. software engineering).
I do know an ex-F1 engineer who is now in video games and so I imagine the transfer can happen in the other direction also.
Hello Randy! Thank you for doing this ama! All questions I could've asked are already answered and I'm grateful for that. Except for one question. As I'm seeing that you're still answering, I'll try my luck: As Zak Brown and Andrea's Seidl want to reform McLaren, I'd like to know how they are doing that and were they were starting and if there are already visible changes. Has the arrival of Andreas Seidl affected your job or your strategy decisions and/or the general work at McLaren in any way? It’s very hard to say what has changed - both Zak and Andreas are very approachable, they both listen and respect your input, they are rational and don’t play the blame game and just want us to get back to the front.
Inside strategy there has been no real change with Andreas arriving he doesn’t complain about bad outcomes, understands what we do and let’s us get on with it and keep improving as quickly as we can. It’s great.
To what extent do you track strategies by other teams during the race? I can imagine keeping an eye on your own team can be a handful already. A lot. Strategy is not an island and so you need to be constantly aware of what your competitors are and may do and how you can best react (or act pre-emptively).
Hi Randy, thanks for doing this. I will be going to university next year and am hoping to study Aerospace engineering. I'm located in Australia and was wondering how likely F1 teams are to hire from outside the UK/Europe? And what would be the process to apply to an F1 team? Stuff about other countries' students answered elsewhere in the comments so I won't repeat here.
In terms of where to look, there are a few aggregator sites such as motorsportsjobs.com (not an endorsement, just an example) and then it's always worth keep an eye on each team's careers page (e.g. https://careers.mclaren.com/search/ ).
Can it get heated between colleagues, or is it always nice and tidy? It's a stressful job and occasionally it can, I have to say it‘s extremely rare (especially at McLaren) and especially when it matters (e.g. during sessions or races) things are extremely calm.
Is there a perfect strategy or do you always find time left on the table with hindsight? I think answered elsewhere so I won't repeat. I don't remember seeing a perfect strategy in my time!
Do you think that with the next regulations of 2022 we will get more interesting strategies at the front - ie something other than 1 stoppers provided that cars can follow and attack more easily, or is the 1 stop still looking to be king due to it being a low risk strategy? I think if they work then we're likely to see more stops, all else being equal, but that doesn't necessarily mean bettemore exciting strategies, although I personally think it will tend in that direction.
The 1 stop isn't necessarily lower risk, but it does typically provide better track position than the 2 stop which may appear to be lower risk.
How do you go about selecting a strategy while the race is unfolding? Especially with those last min calls, what’s the thought process behind it in the heat of the moment? You try and make the decisions before the heat of the moment! It's not always possible to model things in advance, or pre-determine what you will do (and by pre-determine I may only mean 5 or 10s before something happens), so then you rely on your understanding of the fundamentals of the race situation, the primary factors and how their movements will impact strategies and how they will all interplay against each other.
Hello! How much prep have your team put into what was supposed to be the 2021 changes? Is that still going on, or has it been put on the back burner? I really cannot say but teams generally work at least a year ahead, if not more, especially when there are large regulatory changes.
Hi! I don’t know if you are still answering, but are those chairs in the paddock comfortable? I get a back ache just by looking at them. The ones on the pitwall? They’re not too bad actually - you’re only there for 2 hours maximum (normally) and they’re a little padded!
To be honest even still there’s the thrill and excitement of being up on the pitwall whilst F1 cars are zooming around - so you can easily deal with the fact they’re not reclining armchairs!
Hi Randeep Thanks for this, it is really awesome to see that you are engaging with people in the F1 community. I am a 24-year-old electronic engineer. I have registered to study Msc Advanced Motorsports Mechatronics at Cranfield University starting in 2021 and am currently working through the provided lists of textbooks to prepare for the course. I have spoken to some other students and they say it is key to get work experience while you are studying. My ideal plan would be to work through all the course material by December this year. Then in Jan 2021, I would like to apply for some part-time work that I can undertake over 2021-2022 leaving me with 2 years experience once my studies are finished. My question is where do you think the best opportunities are to get this part-time (paid or unpaid) experience considering all I will have to offer is my current undergraduate degree and the "promise" that I have read and understood material relating to motorsports? An undergraduate degree is more than enough, so don't let that hold you back. I'd recommend keeping an eye on the websites of motorsport teams (careers pages), job aggregators and so on. You have to apply for stuff, don't let your perception that you lack the qualifications put you off from the entry-level roles, even in F1.
Beyond this there are many other ways to get experience, whether that is volunteering for a team in a lower formulae, formula student, etc.
Hello, what could an American college student do to potentially work in the strategy department of a team in the future? Also, how important is data analysis in determining strategy? Thank you! Try and get some experience in making data-driven decisions, whether that is in strategy, finance or elsewhere - there's lots of motorsport in the US to get involved with.
There's a lot of data analysis and trend analysis in strategy.
Was there any noticeable change in the team when Zac Brown arrived? Was there a better morale or work ethic from the staff, or do you think that purely comes from better results, like the ones you got last year? Best of luck when the season resumes!! I've always enjoyed it here but morale has certainly improved in recent years. Zak is very approachable, open and funny, so I'm sure that has helped.
What advice do you have for an engineer wanting to get into F1, but graduated a couple years ago and has been working in an industry not related to motorsport ever since? How could that poor schmuck get their foot in the door, and gain compelling skills/experience that will interest an F1 team? Asking for a friend.... That's what I did (full story elsewhere in the thread) - don't give up. It's entirely possible.
In a race situation does the strategy of your competitors affect yours in any way? Do you stick to your plan or adapt the strategy in order to react to unexpected choices from other teams? Competitor strategies and decisions have a massive impact on our strategy. Racing along would be easy to optimise (really) but interactions make life difficult (and fun).
We have plans but we are constantly adapting them.
I am currently studing mechanical engineering in Rwth aachen and working in f1 has been a childhood dream for me what would you reccommend or have you done to gain another step against our fellow students who also wants the same spot studying hard is being done already I think answered elsewhere in more detail - but don't give up. F1 is competitive to get in and then competitive to do well in. Keep pushing.
Do you work differently with each driver? Like do driver personality or preferences alter how you work with them/discuss strategy? Yeah, I think you naturally tailor your interactions with each driveengineer. In general everything is very open and easy.
We try and not let preferences/unconscious biases affect our decisions, but we will also address those with the drivers also.
When you and the team are coming up with strategies for a race weekend or as the race unfolds, is it primarily based on calculation? Or do you apply a certain weight or value on "racer IQ"? For instance, Lewis Hamilton has frequently questioned his team about strategy calls that seem to be based primarily on data and less so on "what a racer would do". Is that something you anticipate or factor in? Or is it something that seems to be too emotionally charged to be a reliable path? It's important to factor in "racer"/"driver" factors, but they are some amongst many - so should not be overweighted either.
Where did you go to college and what discipline of engineering did you major in? I'm going into my senior year as a mechanical engineer, and I am curious about this. Edit: does McLaren have a GPA requirement for hiring? Answered elsewhere so I won't repeat.
No GPA requirement for hiring but obviously it is very competitive so the higher the better.
If McLaren is back in top form for this season and/or beyond, do you find it better to have one driver ensure that the other wins the championship or have both drivers run their course and decide in the closing stages of the race? All else being equal, I'd rather have 2 drivers as it hedges your risk.
How do teams generate competitive advantage over the others given that the simulations done in code to increase the performance of cars are basically the same? I'd assume you all code in C++, Python, MATLAB, etc and must use the same packages for math calculations and so on. Also, since every engineer in F1 is top notch (I believe) how can one team be so ahead of the other? Basically, I mean: if everyone has the same tools, mathematical knowledge, regulatory framework and are overall "highly intelligent" and well-versed with CS, math, physics, how can one team be so much better than the other? The problems are just hard and there isn’t a given solution. Building a model of how an F1 car behaves is incredibly difficult to get right and we measure stuff in milliseconds so small differences mean a lot.
A lot of our problems are just too hard/new to have a full solution and so whoever gets closest does better.
How will Lando and Daniel compliment each other as teammates next year? I think its a great pairing, both have incredible talent but pairing an experienced race winner with a rapidly improving talent is likely to push both forwards.
How should a newly graduated aerospace engineer in the US (with no racing team experience) go about becoming a part of the McLaren Racing team in the aero department. ie: do you guys have other stepping stones or levels that one could work on for the next decade to then transition and relocate? I've answered the main part of this question elsewhere so won't repeat.
We offer summer internships, 1 year sandwich placements and a graduate scheme as ways of entering and stepping through.
How many strategy personnel are analysing each race both at the track and at the factory? It can vary, but our strategy team grows with volunteers and we can be up to 10-15 people for a race but typically the "permanent" strategy team is around 3-6 at most teams.
I have been working in IT for 10 years now and my area of expertise is software automation(software robots - RPA). Any chance for people like me to get a career in formula 1? Yes there is a chance. We are using RPA technology as well.
Hey! I know I’m late to the party, but my question is, what is the average age for new members of a team? Be it engineer, pit crew, etc. Is it usually fresh college students or do you get a few guys that come in late 30s/40s? It does vary somewhat, I'll be a little biased as I usually deal with engineers and those coming through internshups, placements and our graduate schemes - who are typically 18-22 in age. We will hire engineers who are older than that and it can vary quite a lot (as does past experience, particularly motorsport experience).
Whilst I think we're probably more frequently on the lower end of the scale I wouldn't let that put you off - there's a big range.
[deleted] Jenson had (has?) a great feel for what to do in the wet and the driver's feedback can be even more useful in those kinds of changeable conditions.
However, in the wet, more importantly than in the dry, copying someone else's strategy is likely going to give you worse results than formulating your own strategy well. Now that's not to say that doing the same strategy as someone else a lap later is bad, sometimes that extra information provided is enough to swing things, but deliberately copying, I think, is both difficult to execute and I think would lead to worse strategies overall than doing a good job yourself.
Hey, Would just like to ask if there are any career opportunities in F1 for Tier 4 students (I'm Indian). Right now I completed my bachelor degree in Mechanical engineering in India and now got admission into Oxford Brookes for my master's in Motorsports Engineering. A senior of mine has already studied over there but was unable to get into any job related to Motorsports companies denied them due to visa issues. Is there any scope as Tier 4 visa extension has been lifted to 2 years? Hi, there are career opportunities but some roles will require the right to work in the UK, which I'm not sure if the Tier 4 visa confers.
submitted by 500scnds to tabled

[Table] r/formula1 – I'm an F1 Engineer/Strategist, Ask Me Anything... (pt 3)

Previous post here.
Questions Answers
Dear Randy, I would like to ask what is your opinion concerning driver's influence on development of the car. And are there any big differences between the driver's feedbacks? Which driver was the best one you have been working with during those 5 years, concerning the feedback? Thanks in advance for your answer. Driver feedback has a big influence on the development of the car, after all, if the driver can't exploit upgrades/developments/the car then you won't see any laptime gains - nobody else is in the car and so this feedback is vital. However, it is part of a multitude of tools, experience, analysis, etc. that we have, so you can't underestimate the other contributors to development also.
All of the drivers I have worked with have been quite different in terms of their feedback, I don't think I can pick a best one as they all have great qualities, Fernando seemed to instantly know what was wrong/where to improve, Lando is very open and easy to talk to, etc.
Hi Randy!! I wanted to ask you how hard is predict the degradation and overall performance of this generation Pirelli tyres. Also, are you excited for the new rules? I was also wondering how international the McLaren team really is in terms of staff. Thank you!!! I would say it's not super difficult in the current generation of tyres to predict degradation and overall performance - this is done by our tyre experts and the strategy team together. Things change, however, through the weekend and sometimes you have to be very much into the empirical data to spot shifts in behaviour because of this.
I am excited for the new rules - change keeps us on our toes and presents opportunities. Even though I thought single-shot qualifying was a bad idea before we implemented it, it presented an opportunity to really adapt your strategy in qualifying to take advantage - as an example of these opportunities.
The team is really quite international, thinking about the people I work with on a regular basis, most are from the UK, but they also include Italian, Japanese, French, Spanish and German as nationalities.
Can we get McLaren's Tooned back? Next year with Lando and Dan Ric would be fun! I've already asked a few times. I love Tooned!
Very broad question, but what are your thoughts on simracing and how seriously some team/people take it? I think simracing is a great thing, especially with the relative ease of access (cost and location issues) compared to typical motorsport. There is some mounting evidence of a correlation between simracing and physical racing talent as well.
I'm impressed by how seriously some people take it and how good they are - I think it can also be quite addictive - there's a guy in our team Oli who plays pretty much all the time, we think by next week he'll be able to complete a full lap of one of the easier circuits.
Is AI (by which I mean applied neural networks) making inroads into how strategy calls are made in F1? It seems like it could be super useful for analysing how and when the tyres are going to degrade. It is. I am a strong proponent of machine learning and artificial intelligence and we are getting some good benefits in this area. I can't say more.
How often do you pick a strategy that is not the fastest (by the models), but is counter to the other team(s) that you are trying to beat that race? If you are referring to the "free air" quickest strategy - i.e. if I was racing alone, how many pitstops should I do and what tyre sequence should I use then we will almost always not use that strategy.
That strategy would be quickest if you have no other interactions with other cars, which is rare for any car in an F1 race - as you have interactions from battling/overtakes, lapping, etc. but it is not the best strategy (and potentially not the quickest) when interactions with other cars are present.
Depending on the types of interactions there will be a force that acts on the "baseline" strategy mentioned above, the propensity to drop into traffic, for example, may push a stop lap later to avoid getting stuck or battling, etc. But all of these will need to be weighed up to come up with an "optimum" strategy.
Ok, so one thing bothered me for a while now. In many races we see sudden safety cars or double yellows. More often than not, the commentators turn this into a "everyone has to decide real quickly what to do now" situation. Do you really decide just then whether or not to pit a car? If yes, why? I imagine you could easily run multiple real-time simulations that tell you at every given moment with a high precision whether pitting is beneficial or not. Is that not possible or is it just the commentators playing up the situation? Really both things are correct. We try and simulate and analyse what to do in the future, even as humans, every second of the race we'll be thinking what we would do if there were a safety car, probing each other in the strategy team to test our strategies and so on, so in a way we are trying to be prepared before the safety car is deployed, if it is.
However, safety cars can be quite disruptive, depending on who has crashed or what has caused it, etc. your simulations and prior analysis may no longer be useful because the race state has changed too much. In this case you operate from first principles and (hopefully) a deep understanding of the key factors in the race that would sway decisions one way or another.
Safety car decisions are also very game theoretic which can make things more difficult as you typically won't know your competitors' decisions until some time after the safety car is deployed, reducing your time down even further.
Hey Randy! I am a big F1 fan and am very interested in what is one thing you hate about being F1? Could be anything just curious since I am not planning to do anything related with F1 (want to become a coder) but want to know something you dislike about being/doing/involved in F1. Also I know that you already answered something like this but are you going to miss the Carlos/Lando memelord group? Also what are you expecting Riccardo to bring in the meme side. I like to focus on the silly things about F1 hehe. I think the one thing I do dislike about F1 is that more people can't be involved in it. I'm so fortunate to work with our young, extremely talented and proactive graduates, intern students and placement students but my role means I am also responsible for turning away swathes of talent as we have such a limited number of roles.
It's not fair that we are turning away people who are far more talented and would have far more positive impact than, for example, myself and it can be quite upsetting. However, as the sport continues to grow and prosper I'm sure there will be many more opportunities coming up.
I will miss the Carlos/Lando pairing just as I miss the Stoffel/Fernando pairing and many of the others. I have been fortunate enough to work with some extremely talented and friendly drivers so in a way you miss every one and every pairing. On the other hand I'm sure it will be just as great, in a different way with Ricciardo - I'm looking forward to some bonza Aussie slang and pulling out the "Chopper does the weather" video each year!
hello. as a 16 year old student doing a levels what would u say helped u the most in terms of getting to the position u are in now? im intestered very much in working in f1 when i grow up and im looking to do mechanical engineering in uni. thank you I would say that Maths, Further Maths and Physics helped and will help the most - especially in preparing you for engineering at university also.
If you have other subjects to choose as well, then I can also put in a word for doing what you enjoy as well as what you 'need'.
the below is a reply to the above
Thanks for replying. Would you mind telling me what uni you went to aswell? Loads of choices to pick from and im unsure I went to the University of Oxford. There's a very large mix of colleges and universities represented here and thinking about recent graduate hires we have talented people from UCL, University of Bath, University of Southampton, Cambridge University, University of Newcastle and many more.
Are there any members of the traveling team that have a business / not engineer background? Would love to work in F1, but being an economist does not help. Right? Being an economist is not common and I don't know of anyone who is travelling who is an economist by background. But for reference I did Engineering, Economics & Management with a fair amount of Economics and Econometrics. It's not impossible, but as long as you're smart, motivated and can pick up the engineering knowledge you have a shot.
Hi Randy, many thanks for taking the time to answer questions. I’ve snuck two questions into my post. How many people would typically work on strategy within an F1 team and would many of these be based in Brackley during race weekends? Are there any roles in your strategy team that are targeted at or suited to actuaries / risk modellers / mathematical modellers/ statisticians rather than engineers? Around 3 to 6 would typical for a strategy team and normally teams will have 1 of the team trackside, the rest back at HQ. For clarity, none of our strategists should be working at Brackley (Mercedes) - if they are we will be having some difficult conversations!
I would say that strategy does lend itself to those backgrounds (I'm a part qualified actuary - I rejoined F1 before I finished my last few exams), as much as it does to engineering backgrounds (or maths, or stats, or physics, etc. etc.).
Just wanted to say I really appreciate you answering so many questions. What race of the (original) 2020 calendar did you most look forward to? And what is your approach when determining a strategy for a new F1 track, such as Zandvoort? Both Vietnam and Netherlands GPs were very much up there, because of being new to the calendar. This always adds some extra challenge and can lead to more mixed performances compared to the baseline pace of each cadriver.
You tend to rely a lot on Friday data where you are more pressured than usual to learn as much as you possibly can as you've not run their before. There's also a fair amount of prediction and forecasting before you ever leave (as you have to pick tyres, etc.) and a lot more scenario analysis than normal (and there's a lot normally too). Most teams will have the tracks in their simulators and offline simulations weeks, if not months before the actual event as well.
What exactly does a CS do in F1? Asking for a friend I think many roles could be applicable, but most teams will have fairly substantial Software Engineering departments, as well as lots of modelling and computation activities in Vehicle Science and CFD - all of these may be quite well suited.
Hi Randy. Are there routes to get into motorsport and F1 without the usual maths/engineering route; asking as someone who loves the though of F1 but was shit at DT and intends to study politics? Based on some of the stories I had read before working in F1 it had seemed that a degree in politics may have been the way of surviving the 'Piranha Club' - however, that is not the case, thankfully.
It will depend on the kind of role, without gaining engineering knowledge or scientific knowledge you'd struggle to work in the core technical or operational areas but we have a finance department, planning department, HR department, etc. and there may be roles in those other areas that are more suitable.
I’m currently at uni studying Mech Eng to hopefully work in F1 some day, and applied for a summer placement at McLaren this year. Of course that’s been cancelled now, and I’m gutted, but am still hoping to be doing an undergraduate placement year in the 21/22 academic year. Ideally, a summer placement this summer would have been a way for me to get my foot in the door and add some much needed experience to my CV, but what would be your advice now, to make myself as appealing a candidate as possible in the decreasing amount of time I have until the application? Try and find something else, that you enjoy and that is relevant if possible - go fix up an old car, do some formula student, learn a programming language, etc.
Nobody is as gutted as me that Covid is meaning we won't get to work with some very talented summer interns this year.
Hi, I'll go right to the point, I'm from Colombia and finishing my last year of Mechanical Engineer, I've worked as a Mechanic for 2 years and understand quite good vehicle dynamics, I'm good in mathematics and I like to code on python and Matlab, and I keep improving my English. Do you think I have an opportunity as an intern in any racing team? Data analytics, vehicle dynamics something, I just want to get in haha, cheers. Don't rule yourself out. Many of us never thought we'd get our dream jobs in F1, many of us never thought we were smart or able enough and many of us probably feel like that even once we're in - especially for me, seeing all of the young talent applying for jobs each year. Perseverance is key - you're doing the right things.
"No. Try not. Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda
Hi Randy, thanks for the AMA! When do the drivers get the last word for a chosen strategy? Is it only in the race, is it before too, given they know the tracks? How the strategy team work alongside all the valuable input from the guys behind the wheels, so you could as a team be always certain about a given strategy? How much drivers and strategists disagree about something? Best of luck in July, I will be rooting for you guys. EDIT: Grammar. Nearly always the strategy is decided by the strategy team, I can't really remember occasions where the driver or someone else has chosen the strategy. That doesn't mean that the drivers don't have input, before the weekend when we nominate tyres, during the weekend with feedback and during the race over the radio - but we let the experts in each area make decisions and so the strategy is driven by the strategy team.
There are sometimes disagreements, for example, we may think a 1 stop strategy is possible and the driver may think its not, like with all things we'll discuss it rationally and then decide what to do. Sometimes the driver is correct and the 1 stop is too slow to make it work and sometimes we are correct and the 1 stop is the right choice. We try and have the right expertise, skill and feedback coming into the strategy group such that we are correct most of the time (otherwise what is the point of having a strategy group).
Thank you!
This is probably way too late. Do you require a chemist/physicist, my credentials includes but not limited to growing up on Bruce McLaren road. How do you handle inter Strategy-team disputes when/if there is a split between differing choices of strategies. What would you consider to be your go to technique to settle these/bring the team back together after maybe choosing a strategy that it becomes quite clear later on that it was not the optimal choice? Well done on having parents who chose to live on Bruce McLaren road - they're welcome to get in touch 😀 .
I'm assuming you mean disputes inside the strategy team at McLaren (intra? My Ancient Greek is a bit rusty.)?
I think we are fortunate to have very few disputes whatsoever (thinking about any kind of disagreement) - the team atmosphere is really great and we are all just quite honest with each other and open - if one of the team tells me that I made a mistake, or could have done something better then that's probably some of the most useful/trusted feedback I will ever get to get better. It's kind of a nice feeling knowing that you have to do everything really well, because some of the best people in your field work with you and will call you up if not - so you are constantly improving.
Sometimes we will disagree on stuff, there's a lot of data but a lot of things become subjective, as its a case of weighting some factors over other and the weightings can't always be determined. We may disagree sometimes on (mostly non-strategy) stuff and tend to just work out which underlying assumptions/beliefs/knowledge are different and align if we need to.
I think strategically we have very few disagreements - I can't really remember any. If one of the guys told me something could be better, I'd go away and try and work out how to improve it/avoid making the same mistake/ask them to help me fix or improve it, etc. so any disagreements we do have don't really linger.
Thanks for doing this AMA! Since most F1 teams are based in and around the UK, how often do teams hire Canadians/Americans for intern level or full-time engineering roles? P.S I am currently a Canadian software engineering student in Montreal working towards a career in F1 someday. I would say it's fairly rare, but I think a lot of that will be based on volume of applications, we get a lot and from memory they are largely non-US/Canadian.
For some internships and placements we require the right to work in the UK which may also be more difficult for Americans/Canadians to achieve - unfortunately this is because we are quite limited in what we can do in this space.
For other roles, including full-time roles it shouldn't be a detriment to your application - especially not if you are able to address it as well in your cover letter.
F1 never stops, obviously, but are there any cities or circuits that you especially enjoy visiting because of the facilities or culture, rather than the racing? In terms of cities, it's so hard to pick just one, we are fortunate enough to travel to some amazing places.
I have to say that Melbourne (Australia), Suzuka (Japan) and Austin (United States) have to definitely be up there though! But there are so many others that are up there too.
Is Hamilton really that good or is it the car? Would he be as good if he was in, say, a McLaren? I think the evidence stacks up to say that Hamilton really is that good. I imagine he would be as able in a McLaren, but we have to admit that our car isn't yet as quick as his car - but don't worry we're working on it and going in the right direction!
How many have strategies are developed for every race? We will easily simulate millions of races, if not billions of races for each race. Unfortunately the number of permutations of races possible far exceeds this number, so we have to employ some smart methods to make each simulation more useful than it would be if we just tried to simulate everything.
[deleted] Thank you for the concern - but although I'm giving my own views this is being done in conjunction with our Marketing and Communications teams - so there is no risk of me being fired (for this).
I have heard the radios from Sainz at Brazil 2019 and i know he didn't pit during the SC because he didn't have a delta behind, but i still don't understand one thing about the strategy followed that race. My question is, what led you to put Lando on the hards and Carlos on the mediums? Were you aiming to do a 2-stopper with Carlos originally and changed your mind after the Safety Car "shortened" the race? Or did you believe he was better and keeping the tyres alive? There are reasons, but I'm afraid these lips have to be sealed on this one.
Is there like a kill switch for the car that the team can use to shut off the car Yes there is, you may hear race engineers telling their drivers to go from "P2 to P1 or P0" and that is effectively what is happening (turning the car off). This procedure is drilled into every driver and race engineer as its very important for safety too.
We can't turn it off remotely as we're not allowed to communicate from the pits to the car (otherwise we'd probably be making all kinds of changes all the time).
How many Gigs of data are generated after a race? Does it vary a lot per race? (provided no failure of some sort) It can vary but we're roughly talking between 100 and 200 gigabytes of car data, and lots of other types of data such that its probably 1 to 2 terabytes of total data per weekend.
How faster cars could go if they had track specific gear ratios like they used to have? With the current generation of cars and powerunits - it's not a huge amount (I can't give numbers). Locking down ratios was and is a great cost-saving measure with little noticeable impact for fans or spectators.
Having worked with the likes of Jenson and Fernando, how much did their feedback work into your calls? Is jenson really brilliantly nice as he comes across? Jenson was my favourite driver growing up, so it was a privilege to work with him - he's a really nice guy.
Their feedback is really important - often (and Jenson would attest to this) we would disagree on how many stops there would be but never would you not value the feedback or use it (even if you decided other things were more important).
the below question has been split into four, enumerated
Thank you for doing an AMA. I have a couple of question for you: 1. did Lando win the bet with the wallpaper Thanks (but not sure we'll win the 2020 season - I hope we do). He did. This bet required no skill and only a lack of shame.
2. Right now am applying for Mech. Eng. programs in SA (KAUST) US and UK and I hope to work in F1 or Formula E one day, do teams prefer degrees from one country to the other. No, we don't prefer any country but for some roles there is a requirement to have the right to work in the UK.
3. How many possible strategies do you come up with before the race weekend, do you have one for every grid possibility, temp, tyre setup etc. or is it more simpler? Millions if not closer to billions. We simulate a lot of different variables including many that you mention. As the weekend progresses the set of permutations shrinks, as it does with each passing lap in the race.
4. as Alonso's former strategist do you see him coming back to F1 for 2021 and to which team? I hope you can answer my questions, and win the 2020 season. I'm not sure - I hope he does because a talent like his belongs in F1 and I hope he doesn't (I'd rather not race against him).
Hi Randy, thanks for taking the time to come on here. One of my biggest interests in the sport (aside from the racing) is the commercial side of it. Specifically sponsorships but also the negotiations behind them and just the general business of the sport. What college degrees would be most useful to enter the commercial side of a team, and how often would such positions open? What kind of positions would someone be aiming for to enter an entry level role? I'm about to enter college next year and need to finalise my course choices now, and am hoping for some insights on how to break into that world...thanks again! I think anything focusing on the business side could be helpful (e.g. economics) but I think you also have some freedom to do something you enjoy. My impression is that relevant experience will be more useful than degree choice.
What was the biggest mistake you've done and what were you able to do to correct it? Or in other words how do you deal with mistakes during the race in order to get everything back in order? I've made many, many mistakes and will make many, many more - but they don't tend to stand out as we hope that we make a mistake, learn from it, change processes and procedures and analysis and move on. I guess one of the biggest changes to how we worked came after Germany 2018, where we, like many teams, made the wrong choice for tyres in the changeable conditions - we learnt a lot from that event. I've experienced lots of poor luck and bad results from races, but I try and separate mistakes from what we can't control.
I think we're very good at not looking at 'sunk cost' now, once you've made a mistake, or something has gone wrong or against you, it doesn't really matter any more until after the event is over when you can analyse it and improve - there's no point expending any energy or thoughts on it in the race, you have to move on to the next thing and you shouldn't try and recover the mistake - it's happened, let it go and work out what to do from where you are.
How hard it is to become an F1 engineestrategist? How much time you took to to become one? I would say it's difficult to get "your foot in the door" and unfortunately things have gotten so much more competitive over time that it can really take a long, sustained effort to put yourself in a good position.
I ended up waiting a few years for the "dream job" offer in F1 after my placement and to be honest I thought I would never receive that offer.
Perseverance is really important - it is so much more competitive to get in today than it was when I did - but that doesn't make it impossible.
Did Lando keep the screensaver or did you get to keep your £250? Lando has no shame (and may have forgotten how to change the screensaver) and won that particular bet.
Is there a limit set by the F.I.A. as to how many people can work for a Formula 1 team? And if so, what is the limit? So there is no limit in terms of the total number of employees, although as the Financial Regulations come into force and we are subject to a budget cap there will be a natural "soft limit" from that.
We are currently limited to 60 operational personnel for nearly the entirety of the race weekend at the track - designed to stop teams spending too much money flying too many people all around the world.
There must be so many people travelling from race to race - what's the atmosphere like around the paddock on the weekend for someone working it? Does it feel like an F1 'community' or do you all generally keep within your teams? It does feel like an F1 community. People move around teams fairly frequently so I think most people will know someone or have worked with someone at the majority of other teams. You also get to know your counterparts fairly easily.
It's a great atmosphere, there's obviously an underlying feeling of competition and trying to beat your opponents, but there is also a mutual respect as well and most people are actually quite normal human beings (or very good likenesses at least) and quite fun to chat to.
Hi, thanks for doing an AMA! Are there any roles in F1 for someone with a pure economics degree? EEM at Oxford would’ve been great but they stopped offering the degree a few years ago. Thanks Yeah - what a shame about EEM being discontinued - I thought it was a great course!
There are suitable roles, most teams will have finance departments and areas that even cover financial planning, analysis and strategy. You would also be suitable for more typical roles if you were able to find a way to pick up the engineering side of things.
Hey Randy! I've been reading through all these questions and answers, they're all awesome. I also might be a bit late, sorry. I'm 16 and have dreamt(literally) of being a f1 aerodynamicist when I grow up! I have a knack for physics and calculus. What kind of degree do I try to pursue/study? I am absolutely bewildered by the amount of information out there. Is mechanical engineering the right place to study fluid dynamics, or engineering science? Thank you in advance! P. S. I live in New Zealand It can vary between general engineering, mechanical engineering, aerodynamics, aeronautics and so on. I would suggest you find something you enjoy and also interrogate the course content to see how applicable it may be to your career desires before committing.
What do you think about Lance stroll? Do you rate him as an F1 Driver? Lance's race pace has been fairly strong this last year, he has been close to Perez in that respect and Perez is no slouch in races.
Lance's qualifying positions have made it hard for him to score more points - so that's an area that will clearly payback for him (in terms of points scored) if he can improve on it.
Hi Randy, hope you’re doing well over lockdown! I’m currently in my second year of Automotive Engineering and would love to work in motorsport when I graduate (as many of us do). Firstly I wanted to ask whether you felt academic achievement, work experience or who you know in the industry is the most important part of getting a role in F1? And secondly, if you were an engineering student again now what would you do to stand out (especially for someone wanting to work in race strategy)? Really appreciate you doing an AMA by the way, and good luck when the season starts! I would hope that knowing someone no longer has an impact on getting a role in F1 - I certainly feel that it shouldn't.
Both academic achievement and work experience can be useful - it's hard to rank them. Personally, I have always valued "intelligence" highly - but to me that includes things like book smarts, applied smarts, problem-solving, proactivity, etc.
Thanks for the luck.
Hello! I am currently working for Honda Performance Development where we develop and build the Indycar Honda engine. I got in through an internship from my community college and I have been tearing down and inspecting the engines when they come back to us. I am young and have only taken little math classes so far because I want to become an engineer one day and work in F1. I just don’t know what kind of engineering I should try to get into. I’d love to become one of the engineers who push our engines to the limit at the track. People have told me mechanical engineering can quite basic just designing parts while electrical engineers deal with stuff like engine mapping. What should I do and pursue? Awesome - sounds like a fun job!
I don't think Mechanical Engineering will hold you back and at many colleges and universities you can specialise enough into the areas that are a little more related to Control Systems/Powerunits to help. I also don't think Electrical Engineering will hold you back either.
From experience, most of our Control Systems engineers I have worked with have done either Mechanical or General Engineering, but not all have.
I would pick what you enjoy and try and get some good and relevant experience and knowledge around that - for example, given you're already at HPD, can you offer to help out with some basic tasks in that area there?
Hi Randy, I know you’re an engineer. I’ve applied for a job in Marketing at McLaren (and other teams) multiple times over the years, and had no success. I live in Australia but I have a dual Australian-British citizenship so I can live and work legally in the UK. I think my skills are strong enough to justify an interview, but I always seem to get rejected. Is there a bias towards hiring people already in the UK? Is being in Australia hurting my chances of scoring a job somewhere like McLaren even if I’m willing to move? I'm sorry but I'm not sure - I know in engineering we are careful not to be biased, but we have to sometimes consider the right to work in the UK. Perhaps you could try reaching out to HR to find out if there is any feedback?
why Vettel spin Find me a driver who hasn't. I've never worked with Vettel, but have a lot of respect for him. Driving these cars is not easy and I imagine that driving them 0.1% faster than the other excellent drivers you're competing against (because that's what a tenth of laptime comes down to) puts you even closer to the line between a truly quick lap and disaster.
PS: Why waste time say lot word when few word do trick?
Thank vou for this AMA. I am a PhD Student in engineering Physics. I would like to know where did you start your career as an engineestrategist? As a motorsport enthusiast I would like to be part of a motorsport team. Do you have suggestions from where to start looking? I think answered elsewhere in this thread, so I won't repeat the comment here.
Keep an eye on the McLaren careers website (and if you really want to work elsewhere - their websites too).
Thanks for all the info in your pervious questions. Do many strategist or engineers work their way through F3 and F2 to get to F1? Is it common/possible for someone to start out in engineering in like suspension design and then transition into strategy? I’m a going into my 3rd as undergard as a ME, does McLaren offer opportunities to pay for grad school and work on the team? What is the difference between the strategists who travel and ones who don’t travel? Do you or other strategists contribute to the design of the next year’s car? Thanks if you get a chance to respond. It’s really thoughtful of you to do this, and I think it reflect very highly on McLaren that you’re doing this! I joined Formula Student in college during my first year and started doing data analysis for my team. Because of my time so far in Formula Student, I picked up following F1. It has been possibly one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’m highly interested into going into F1 now as either an engineer or a strategist. Hi - thank you for the kind words. I've enjoyed answering these questions! And great that you've picked up a passion for F1.
In my experience, very few of the strategists I have worked with/invited to our team have been in F3 or F2 prior - that's not to say that that is a bad route and certainly I have met some very talented F3 and F2 engineers (including a strategist who has really impressed as well).
The other route you mention, doing some other role at an F1 team and moving over is probably more frequent. We've generally tended to hire people we've worked with and there are plentiful volunteering/assisting opportunities to teammates in the F1 team.
The Engineering Graduate Scheme (which I am biased about positively) is amazing in terms of talent (that's not bias, that's 100% honesty) and so we've actually taken most of our strategists from there as people finish their 2 year rotation period through the F1 business. I can not recommend the Engineering Graduate Scheme enough.
Can you give a funny or interesting story that happened to you and McLaren (about strategy) on a race weekend last year? No really funny "strategy" stories from this year - at my first race (Australia 2013) I did jump off the pitwall in front of the safety car at least 2 times causing an emergency stop though - and I did get sent on to the track when it was live later that year...
But an interesting story, after Germany I had a very long chat with Carlos in the airport. Initially he was happy with 5th, but we chatted and I explained how we could have got a podium (his first!) by making a different decision, because of how things played out, but that that would have been the wrong choice. It was a great conversation and I think Carlos came around to our way of thinking fairly quickly and sensibly. We sat there and said we just needed to carry on making decisions the right way and the podium would come, little did we know we wouldn't have to wait too long...
hi randy quick question are there any legal related jobs in f1 in specific for lawyers Yes, most teams will have (small) legal departments.
What are some of the biggest challenges with data visualization that you face? I imagine you have to sift through a lot of telemetry data quickly for your work. I think some of the biggest problems are having too much data and being able to drill down to the important stuff quickly and making information presentable to those not familiar with the data so it is easy to comprehend the conclusions/summary/analysis.
Hi Randy, Could you explain what Ferrari were doing last year with their fuel flow sensor? And how teams found out? And how sure we are they were doing that? And do you expect other teams to have developed DAS? Thx mate. I'm afraid I don't know what Ferrari were doing, if anything. Teams conduct a lot of competitor analysis so we do often spot things that others are doing or may be doing that way.
I don't, due to the ban and the complexity and time required to develop such a system but I don't know.
Hi Randy. I couldn't find this specific question. So would you guys love to see less durable tires. Or more obliged pit stops so that there would be more tire strategies possible? As a strategist, I would love to see less durable tyres than we currently have - but I also understand that drivers want tyres they can push harder on and for longer (to battle each other) and there are a myriad of other factors that Pirelli are also dealing with to produce the "perfect" tyre.
So yes, strategy-wise less durable and higher degradation tyres would, in my opinion, lead to better racing, but they could have negative effects on other things.
I disagree heavily with constraints on strategy as I think they will make racing worse, so I disagree with obligated numbers of pitstops (I have just written another answer about that if you'd like more detail).
For the more “business” roles, do you guys hire people with MBAs or are people with just undergraduate degrees hired as well? (Eg. business strategy for the team, supply chain etc) Do you have an approximate of how many challenges would someone from Canada would have to overcome to get a job? (Or how much better would they have to be than someone from the UK) I think there are probably not many MBAs based on my knowledge but that does not mean its not a good asset to have and that it won't help you.
I think the right to work in the UK can be very helpful, otherwise it shouldn't help or hurt you.
Evening Randy, I’m actually an undergraduate physicist. I had applied for the race team internship for this summer. I was very sad to hear that it was cancelled. I was really hoping to get a better understanding of how you guys model the tires and decided on optimal strategies and lap times to find the shortest race time. Do you know of anyone who releases tire data publicly that I could have a look at when I eventually get bored this summer? Also I saw that placement over summer as the first stepping stone for a career in formula 1. I’ll be graduating next year so won’t have an opportunity to reapply. Do you have any advice for someone in my position, looking to get into the data analysis side of formula one without much prior knowledge. Thank you for your time. I'm so gutted that Covid has scuppered our plans this year, I get to manage the summer placements and it's a highlight of each year of work.
Pirelli do a great job of releasing tyre information each weekend to the press and on their website - I'd suggest you start there.
Do all of your plans get tossed if unexpected rain comes? Do you make strategy plans for rain happening at say lap 10, a different plan for if lap 15, etc? And how does rain potential affect amount of fuel you'll carry, if at all? We don't toss our plans. We do plan for wet and changeable races, as well as all kinds of other scenarios too.
Less fuel is used in the rain as you are going slower (and considerably so) but before you remove too much fuel you'll need to think about the certainty of rain during the race (when you decide hours before how much to fuel the car) and its intensity and duration...
the below is a reply to the above
Thanks for the reply, I know you've had a lot asked. If you don't mind me asking, what's the strangest weather pattern/geological event/etc you've ever made a "no real chance of happening, but just in case" plan for? I think the typhoons in Japan are always pretty special to follow, there have also been heatwaves and occasionally snow/ice.
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