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How to get a job in F1


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#1 Greg Locock

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 21:42

ex design engineer gives a fairly frank set of answers

 

https://www.reddit.c...g_some_student/



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#2 mariner

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Posted 30 September 2020 - 10:06

Thanks, Greg, really interesting stuff - and very open too.

 

I am bit surprised at his comment about low pay. MB GP Ltd,the UK company that is the team owner had a turnover in 2019 of £363M and employed 1,016 people for a wages bill of £84M excluding social security and pension costs.

 

So the AVERAGE wage was £83,000 per head.That excludes  Toto Wolf (who seems to earn £6.9M per year) and the other directors.  

 

So although I have to respect his inside knowledge I think the average pay levels in MB GP at Brackley are pretty high, above the auto industry average in EU/USA I would think even allowing for high qualification levels 



#3 Canuck

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Posted 30 September 2020 - 15:14

I think in any sector where the pool of applicants vastly outnumbers the available roles, the employer has the advantage, particularly for entry-level, administrative, and technical roles that aren't specifically related to racing (IT). If you want the experience of working for or feel there's some social cache to saying you work for, an F1 team, you'd be willing to trade compensation, at least until the novelty wore off. If you're one of the individuals that is demonstrably moving the needle for them then I suspect you're in a different compensation bracket all together and the bigger threat you would pose to their success should you go to a different team, the better the retention as well. 

 

I think the average role working for an F1 team would be far more grinding, stressful and relatively thankless than most university students imagine, with a greater percentage of relatively mundane engineering work to do. There are only so many rock stars allowed.



#4 mariner

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Posted 30 September 2020 - 15:48

I am not an engineer but I have worked in a large R+D/engineering unit with about 700 people so not too dissimilar  from the 1,000 at MB GP.

 

 

It wasn't t racing but the competition was Japanese and relentlessy  tough. We tried to get a 50 hour week out of all staff to match the Japanese. 

 

People were motivated and enjoyed the challenge but it had to be run like large corporate unit for that many people to be co ordinated. I imagine that's true in MB GP or Ferrari too so for many people it will be just a job.

 

The days of 20 determined and inspired people doing a GP car are long gone. 

 

Even if you back back way it is clear in Adrian Newey's biography that detail mechanical design was something he seldom got involved in, other people did that etc.



#5 jimjimjeroo

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Posted 30 September 2020 - 16:07

Nows not the time. Expect massive redundancies in the next few years with budget caps

#6 Greg Locock

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Posted 30 September 2020 - 20:46

I've known 3 people who've worked at F1 teams for a reasonable period of time. All 3 were happy enough with normal pay at our place. i suspect the technical rock stars get the big bucks, whereas in the general automotive  industry very very few technical stream guys are at the higher, management equivalent, grades. As he says the travelling roadshow gets the big pay, not the grunts in front of tubes back in the office.



#7 Charlieman

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 11:25

I'm not sure how the PhD premium for starting salaries in engineering works in the UK nowadays, but I suspect that job hunters are still doing all right. There will be some aggressive hunting for desirable job candidates.

 

Many of the engineers at divisions operated by Mercedes-Benz or Renault will be juniors sent for training in a high performance, high stress working environment. Others may be specialists who have limited opportunities elsewhere to pursue their interests. They may not be interested in F1 itself, just wanting to get their hands on sexy kit or marking points on their CVs.

 

Gabe, author of the reddit post, seems to have a bit of a problem adjusting to life in the UK. He makes points about European living standards which are almost comical. That's fine. Difficulties wrt visa and financial status exist, but I am surprised that his employers were unable to help; I know that many UK universities have few problems settling foreign staff. Here in Europe we are different, different within every country and region. Most of us celebrate difference.

 

But it is wet in Europe!



#8 DogEarred

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 15:25

I think in any sector where the pool of applicants vastly outnumbers the available roles, the employer has the advantage, particularly for entry-level, administrative, and technical roles that aren't specifically related to racing (IT). If you want the experience of working for or feel there's some social cache to saying you work for, an F1 team, you'd be willing to trade compensation, at least until the novelty wore off. If you're one of the individuals that is demonstrably moving the needle for them then I suspect you're in a different compensation bracket all together and the bigger threat you would pose to their success should you go to a different team, the better the retention as well. 

 

I think the average role working for an F1 team would be far more grinding, stressful and relatively thankless than most university students imagine, with a greater percentage of relatively mundane engineering work to do. There are only so many rock stars allowed.

 

There is no one simple way to get a job in F1.

If we just talk just about the engineering/design side, the technical structure is basically:-

 

Tech Director

Chief Designer & Chief Aerodynamisist

Section Leaders (eg. Chassis, Suspension & Steering, Engine Installation (rads/coolers/engine auxiliaries/kers) Bodywork, R&D, FEA etc.

 

These people will invariably be experienced, knowledgeable & (apart from the superstars) well paid - in the £70k - £100k bracket, although that may vary these days.

They will have worked their way up, either with the same team or by moving around. You tend to increase your salary though by moving around.

 

After that, there tends to be the 'long term' engineers, who are happy to be in the F1 world & achieve reasonably good salaries they could not achieve elsewhere.

Occasionally, If a candidate is thought the right qualities, he/she might be taken on & allowed to learn quickly, a new role.

 

Below that, the more junior engineers are, as Canuck implies, the grafters - churning out stuff one way or another & gaining experience.

Like any other industry, they will be hoping/working for promotion or more exciting projects. Plenty of them moan about their low salaries & believe they are God's gift...

 

Msc & Phd's are not necessarily the best or only way in but it helps though. Thousands of people apply every year. Some straight from education, some from companies where they have gained some experience.

I have seen with my own eyes, letters from Oxford & Cambridge graduates, offering to work for no pay, in order to gain a foot in!

 

So yes, the teams have the upper hand, paying low salaries & making it difficult to get increments or promotion. Staff are expected to work any hours requested & over the winter period, 7 days per week. You can tell the people who are not driven by the love of F1 by their absence at critical times & believe me, they are the majority! Freelancers are brought in for these occasions, to help out meeting deadlines, then discarded when the season starts. 

 

Nowadays there are regular intakes of 'work experience' students in the summer holidays, who are mentored & given a report for potential employed, at the end of their stay.

I was once given one of these students to 'mentor' & report on. (to my surprise, as I am a freelancer with no high qualifications) 

My guy was a pleasant enough chap but I don't know if he thought he was going to breeze into a job but he turned out not to listen to basic advice, lazy & more interested in sneaking off for coffee & smokes & chatting to his student mates. Not interested at all. My report? - Well I do not consider it my job to inhibit anyone's future, so I gave him a decent report. My guess is though, he is currently nowhere near a F1 racing team!

 

Opportunities tend to come up & are filled as needed by whoever is available, as well as a structured career. Teams are well aware that people move around & are poached & there are unspoken rules about behaviour in these circumstances. People know people & the 'grapevine' is in constant use.



#9 DogEarred

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Posted 03 October 2020 - 15:51

.....or you can do it the DogEarred way. - Unorthodoxly, as with most things in life I have done, it seems.

 

I tried writing to all the teams when I was younger & having no degree, it was pretty obvious that I would not be employed anywhere & gave up.

 

Year 2000, aged about 47 - I had spent my working life in drawing offices, firstly freelance in the oil & gas industry, using CAD since it was introduced in circa 1983. Then on the back of my knowledge of a particular CAD system, I obtained work in the US for about 3 years, doing trucks & locomotives, then another 3 years in Frankfurt, doing components for Opel cars.

 

There was a lull in work in the German design house & they laid us off for a few weeks, so I decided to drive home to London.

At this time, there was a petrol tanker driver's strike in the UK & fuel was almost impossible to come by.

 

As I pulled up outside my flat in London, I took a call from an employment agency, basically saying "If you have enough petrol to get the ******** F1 Team tomorrow, they will give you a  trial"

Well, I kept a second old car & it was full of petrol!!!!

 

Being familiar with their CAD system & having raced for 10 years & followed F1 design since a teenager, I joined the Aero dept. & was able to start producing the simple parts they gave me to do the same day, surprising them, I think. Another guy who was taken on really had no ideas about racing car construction & was let go at the end of the week.

My contract was extended & when that finished, I had the magic F1 team on my cv, which allowed me to stay, with a few interesting exceptions, in the F1 world ever since with 9 differently named teams, retiring last year.

 

So you can say that I got in at the top & have been working my way down ever since.  :rotfl:  :rotfl:

 

You learn a lot by watching & listening to others & if you can add up one and one, you can often get the answer to things you should not know but that's another set of stories...


Edited by DogEarred, 03 October 2020 - 15:55.


#10 Greg Locock

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Posted 04 October 2020 - 21:54

Here's another one

 

https://www.reddit.c...sk_me_anything/



#11 Fat Boy

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Posted 06 October 2020 - 17:25

I wouldn't have a job in F-1 if it was hanging on a Christmas tree. I'd much rather be racing.



#12 Greg Locock

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Posted 06 October 2020 - 21:46

Yeah solar car was enough to put me off doing it as a job. That guy laminating cells onto the body at 4 am? One of them was me, and we had to work the next day, 8am.



#13 Nathan

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Posted 17 October 2020 - 15:45

Thanks, Greg, really interesting stuff - and very open too.

 

I am bit surprised at his comment about low pay. MB GP Ltd,the UK company that is the team owner had a turnover in 2019 of £363M and employed 1,016 people for a wages bill of £84M excluding social security and pension costs.

 

So the AVERAGE wage was £83,000 per head.That excludes  Toto Wolf (who seems to earn £6.9M per year) and the other directors.  

 

 

Why does it exclude Wolff?  I assume it does include Wolff's pay as an officer of the corporation, if so that average gets sliced to the mid 70's.  Between senior sponsorship/marketing staff, finance heads, design heads, there are probably two dozen more of those 1,000 than combine for a few million.

I guess what I'm getting at is, it isn't outlandish for such a large company to see 10-15% of total payroll put into 2-3% of the staff.  That really skews the 'average' and is often why the median is the better stat for such things.



#14 mariner

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Posted 18 October 2020 - 09:38

To answer Nathan's question the wages exclude Wolf as he is director who as " officers" aren't included in wages under UK accounting regulations.

 

There are , obviously, a number of directors on the MB F1 boards , mostly  senior MB guys but only Wolf is paid as a director by the F1 company.



#15 DogEarred

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Posted 18 October 2020 - 10:56

I wouldn't have a job in F-1 if it was hanging on a Christmas tree. I'd much rather be racing.

 

Raises an interesting question in my mind, having done both.

 

When much younger, I spent about 14 years racing karts & small single seaters. It was my passion to the exclusion of a 'normal' life & I used to laugh when I saw interviews with top sportsmen & Olympic athletes boasting about their dedicated regimes & 6 hours per day training. I worked in drawing offices, often doing overtime & for example, driving or travelling a couple of hours per day, then going straight to my garage to work on the car for 2-3 hours, then go out driving a minicab until midnight and beyond. Unless racing, weekends where spent between the garage & mini-cabbing for extra money.

I towed the car on a trailer to races, sleeping in the car when necessary. I mostly had the help of one enthusiastic but bumbling friend. I raced in the highest championships I could, rather than looking for cheap victories at smaller meetings. By my own endeavors plus the benefit a working base in Belgium for 3 years, I got to roam around Europe racing at the old 'Ring, Zandvoort, Francorchamps, Pau, Montlhery & other places.

 

When much older, I spent around 15 years in and around F1, sports cars & LSR vehicles. As for F1, as a contractor, I worked for several teams. I was happy to be there, at the 'top end' of motor sport, albeit at not a high level. I worked to the best of my ability, always wanting the team to do well & taking an interest in all things, going to de-briefs & gathering whatever information I could. The race teams were always good to work for - they did what was necessary to get the cars to the track & were fun to work with.  I used to laugh sometimes, crawling into the offices at 7.00 am on cold, snowy winter days, to be greeted by absolutely nobody else. Gradually a reluctant few might crawl in for a few hours. This is not untypical of the 'dedicated, hardworking supermen' you hear team bosses eulogizing about. (Don't get me wrong - there are indeed a substantial number of those too.) At least I got to work in the area I always wanted to & 'mix it' with some big names.

 

So If I can turn Fat Boy's statement into a question & by a very, very, very small margin:

 

 

I'd rather be racing...   :clap:



#16 gruntguru

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Posted Yesterday, 02:28

I guess what I'm getting at is, it isn't outlandish for such a large company to see 10-15% of total payroll put into 2-3% of the staff.  That really skews the 'average' and is often why the median is the better stat for such things.

 

Wouldn't that be typical for large companies in general?

 

https://ourworldinda...come-inequality

 

Zt2MuHo.png

 

https://www.nytimes....ty-america.html

 

 

The chief executives of large American corporations made about 20 times more than the median worker at those companies in the mid-1960s. By 2018, the gap was some 278 times.


Edited by gruntguru, Yesterday, 02:29.


#17 Greg Locock

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Posted Yesterday, 06:30

The economics of envy rarely add much light to discussions. As a shareholder I vote in some way for the pay of the board. . I don't think it is a good process, to be honest, but it is entirely different to how pay is set for the general workers. So the NYT quote is examining the outcomes of different processes, and lo and behold, they are different. In Australia we are just starting to see a SHORTAGE of directors (for good reasons) so you can expect to see that U shaped curve get more U shaped, not less.



#18 DogEarred

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Posted Yesterday, 07:16

There is of course one certain way to get a job in Formula 1.

Just drive faster than anyone else...

#19 Imperial

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Posted Yesterday, 10:18

I was once offered a job by FOM (talking mid 1990s here) but the salary was absolutely atrocious, I'm not kidding, and as it would have required a home move by myself from the north of England (bearing in mind I was only in my late teens) and somehow having to actually be able to live on said salary (which the maths proved was impossible) the opportunity came and I let it drift on by. I've asked myself a few times if I regret not being able to somehow make it work, as maybe I'd have shot up the FOM ranks, but you can't think that way really and given that FOM had a huge round of redundancies not too many years later it may have been an opportunity taken and bitterly regretted if I'd found myself on the scrap heap already at a young age.

 

Over the next couple of years after that I had a look into a few roles at different places but never went beyond any initial phone-chat/discussion stage and I just left it there after a while, having reached the conclusion that F1 is basically exactly the same as any other type of industry you may wish to work in, that if you don't already live in the local area for the job then you're just wasting your own time looking. From my own limited experiences, that would be the single biggest thing I took away from it. There is, after all, a reason that most of the UK F1 teams recruit graduates of the same few local universities. And our friend here on reddit is proof of that, relating in his first answer that he studied at the University of Oxford - that is one of the few universities they look to.

 

I know the title aims this thread squarely at F1, but it's everywhere. I tried applying to M-Sport (not a huge distance from me) and they never even used to reply to say no thanks, but yes I did even once offer my services on a weekend free of charge to a local touring car team and they weren't interested at all in even bagging themselves some free labour!

 

Conversely, I know someone who has zero interest in any form of motorsport, let alone F1, yet was interviewed for and offered a job by Jaguar F1. He turned the offer down and went to work for an unrelated industry as the pay for the same job was much higher.



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#20 desmo

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Posted Yesterday, 15:02

Any field people are really passionate about working in will probably in the main have crap pay and working conditions.



#21 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted Yesterday, 18:18

Any any questioning of it will be the Politics of Envy, apparently. 



#22 Canuck

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Posted Yesterday, 19:40

It does seem like one of the few working (IE without much intervention) examples of pure supply and demand. There are many individuals who think they'd like to work for an F1 team, and there are relatively few roles. When you have a large talent pool to pick from, and a limited amount of competition within that field, it strikes me a obvious that the wages for all but the rock-stars would absolutely be lower, and with higher demand/expectations than a similar role outside of F1. Being able to say "I work for such-and-such F1 team" is part of the compensation package.

 

Conversely, when there is huge demand and very little supply of qualified applicants, wages respond accordingly. It's been some years now, but when Canadian oil drilling activity was hot, anyone who worked on a drilling rig was making 6 figures to start. Long days, away from home for weeks at a time and hard, dangerous work, but well compensated (in numbers at least). Required education to gain rig employment? A couple of safety courses. MWD hands - contractors that bring and operate what is essentially GPS for drill bits, were pulling down $1000/day plus expenses, and were ordinarily referred to as Movie Watching Dudes because as long as the tools worked, there was almost nothing to do.

 

As a cursory thought, non-unionized labour markets are some of the few real-world examples of supply-and-demand as they aren't traded on commodities markets nor repackaged in magical tranches, the supply/demand ratio shapes what the buyer is willing to accept in terms of quality, and the price of it.



#23 Kelpiecross

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Posted Today, 03:48

Any field people are really passionate about working in will probably in the main have crap pay and working conditions.

 

 

 Or if they are really really passionate they will work for no pay.  



#24 Greg Locock

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Posted Today, 04:50

Yep. The pay at Lotus Cars/Engineering was, traditionally, crap. Many of the engineers were Lotus enthusiasts. However when GM took over they had to get bums on seats for a big program and the pay bounced up to relatively normal levels. The relocation package was good, because of course they were after experienced engineers who were somewhat nervous about moving out into the wilds of Norfolk.