Contribution Areas: Career & Education, Formula 1, Technical, Women in MotorsportBack to index
Contributor start date: 01 Mar 2017
How I contribute to Student Motorsport
"Hi I'm Gemma, you’ll find me in and amongst the Student Motorsport activity areas and through my contributions to the Resource Centre where I write articles on my journey through motorsport and into Formula 1. I'll be sharing many things through Student Motorsport, but in particular I want to highlight the importance of networking, getting yourself into the pit lane and how to use online tools and Student Motorsport to get you to where you want to be.
My passion for the motorsport industry began when I was 16 and I have been relentlessly working towards my ambitions ever since. By 23 I was trackside in F1 as a Pirelli Tyre Engineer and by 25 I was Manor Racing’s Tyre & Strategy Engineer, supporting the drivers and engineers at the track.
Of course before reaching F1, you have to work your way up the motorsport ranks. By juggling part time jobs and weekend work with studies and essentially saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity I have worked in a wide range of motorsport areas from Formula 1, BTCC, Blancpain GT, Formula Student, Technical Media with companies such as Pirelli F1, Manor Racing, Lotus F1, Support Our Paras Racing, JRM, Nissan, Cranfield Motorsport Simulation, Racecar Engineering Magazine, Race Engine Technology Magazine.
It is this experience that I want to bring to the members of Student Motorsport. I want to give an insight into what it’s like working in those motorsport teams to ignite that passion for our members, but also advice on how to get there and how to develop yourself as an engineer that motorsport teams want. I also want to help inspire the next generation of female engineers because times are changing – nearly every F1 team has a female engineer on their pitwall!"
What I do
"Before Manor Racing collapsed I worked as a Tyre & Strategy Engineer. I started at Race 15 (Singapore) and was the lead engineer focusing on tyres so like often in motorsport – I was dropped in the deep end!
Throughout a race weekend, I worked with the drivers, engineers and Pirelli engineers to analyse the tyre behaviour and establish the temperatures and techniques to minimise tyre degradation. By understanding how to manage this degradation effectively, you can increase the performance life of the tyre which gives you a lot more flexibility when determining your strategy.
Of course, the tyre behaviour changed at every temperature and at every track due to the different layouts and so it was a continuous but exciting challenge to quickly understand what the tyres were doing and how to use them to beat the other teams. Currently, as I wait for my next engineering challenge, I am back to working as a Technical Writer where I interview all sorts of teams and companies across the motorsport spectrum and write about the engineering behind motorsport in a variety of publications."
More about me
"My journey through motorsport so far, like most, has been extremely tough, demanding and requires a lot of sacrifices. However, when you do finally achieve what you set out to, it is simply the best feeling and you suddenly realise it was all worth it. If I was to give some advice to people looking to step into the motorsport industry it would be 'never give up', 'say yes to opportunities' and 'do something extra'!
No matter how hard you are finding the exams, how many times your CV gets rejected or how often you are told ‘we will be in touch’, never ever give up. You only need one yes and when you get it, you have to be ready to grab the opportunity and run with it. Once you have made it into the circles of motorsport, it is much easier to progress – the key is to get yourself that first ‘yes’.
You may get offered opportunities that don’t seem directly related to your career goals, however because motorsport is such a small world it is vital that you get involved in every opportunity you can because you never know where it will lead. I completed an industrial placement at Nissan Automotive, and through the contacts I made there I worked at the Spa 24 Hours with a Nissan team and organised a visit from Sebastian Vettel. The same with my technical writing – turns out one of the main reasons why Manor employed me was because they wanted someone who could present technical information clearly and concisely in reports. So always say yes and see where the contacts and skills learnt take you.
Everyone appreciates hard work and it’s no different in motorsport, always go above and beyond your job because this will do wonders for your reputation. Once you establish yourself as a hard working and enthusiastic engineer, you will start to get recommended and renowned throughout the industry and before you know it your reputation becomes more important than your CV and might just secure you your dream job!
I hope you enjoy reading my articles and advice, and find it useful for your own journey in the motorsport industry."