How to start a motorsport engineering career in national racing

The UK has a rich motorsport heritage, and it starts at the grassroots where both teams and drivers aiming to go all the way to Formula 1 learn their craft

How to start a motorsport engineering career in national racing

The junior categories are an important process for any person pursuing a career in motorsport, not just drivers, as they provide an opportunity to master the basic understanding of developing, engineering and running racing cars - gaining skills and building confidence.

But how does someone aiming for a motorsport career find that grassroots opportunity?

Ginetta's one-make championships, British Formula 4 and the Renault UK Clio Cup are all UK lower formula competitions where teams offer students and graduates chances to develop their skills.

Ginetta Motorsport manager Ashley Gallagher says Ginetta works with colleges to find students employment.

"Currently Ginetta employs both college apprentices and university placement students across the business in both production roles and as part of the design team," Gallagher explained.

"Often these lead to full-time positions after completion of their respective studies.

"Currently there are around 10 of these types of positions in operation across the company."

Allowing this transition between education and real competition gives students a flavour of both practical and theoretical approaches.

Nigel Jones, British F4 technical delegate, admits that lower formulas should do more to educate young engineers but says it can be a tough balance to find.

"More could be done if colleges partnered up with manufacturers, race teams or headline sponsors to allow access, but there is a fine line between showing how it is done and allowing teams to prep and run cars on race day," he said.

"This would lead to a 'watch and learn' environment when time is short, which is the reason they are there.

"Also drivers pay a lot to have a team run a car for them and they expect maximum commitment. That's difficult with students wandering around."

Jones believes education establishments could collaborate with teams more.

"Colleges and universities need to form closer ties with race teams, ensure the degree is right for the job," he said.

"Work to get regular work experience opportunities, understand what the industry requires.

"Build the work experience into the courses and assignments from the experience, prepare student for life in the industry at whatever level."

Having a structured programme in place gives students a focus on what they want to achieve and a goal to aim at.

Renault UK Clio Cup representative Carl McKellar cites Renault's partnership with Infiniti as a prime example.

"We work with Infiniti's excellent Engineering Academy," he said.

"Its engineering students experience various roles within the Clio Cup on race weekends - technical, data analysis and support etc."

The Infiniti Engineering Academy offers an opportunity in both the automotive and motorsport industries, with a six-month placement at Infiniti Technical Centre Europe and six months at the Renault Sport Formula 1 team.

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