Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains
Due to the current global uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 and the interruption to studies for so many students, we decided to reach out to the F1 family for some motivation and inspiration.
Here they share their experiences about their own route into the industry, and their life during lockdown.
— What is your name and job title?
My name is Charlotte Phelps, and I am a Strategy Engineer with Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains
— Could you give me a summary of your job role?
My role covers multiple different activities, but can be summarised mostly as data analysis. The Strategy team is responsible for defining where new Power Unit components are introduced through the season, as well as how each of the components can be run at the circuit. We do this by analysing data from running at the factory, and providing support throughout race weekends to ensure maximum performance is being extracted from the running envelope.
In addition to this event support, we also provide data support to the other engineers in the factory, providing the software and tools they need to be able to analyse data in the most efficient and effective way.
— What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was young, I had no intention of going into engineering, or working in motorsport. I was working towards a career in music and theatre, when Engineering found me.
— When did you know you wanted to work in Formula 1?
Formula one has never been a long term career aim for me, but while at university I really discovered my passion for motorsport, and it was suggested to me that a placement year with a motorsport team might be worth considering. I applied to Mercedes HPP for their placement student vacancies, and F1 became my path.
— What’s the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is that no two days are ever the same. Projects are fast moving and varied, so it’s never boring! And of course, getting to have direct and tangible impact at the circuit throughout a race weekend is amazing.
— What subjects and courses did you take?
At A level I took Maths, Further Maths, Physics and History. The combination of the sciences and History gave me a well rounded outlook and range of abilities when heading to University.
While at school I also studied both Piano and Bassoon, reaching Grade 6 and Grade 8 respectively.
At University I studied Electronic Engineering with Music Technology Systems. Although this was perhaps not an obvious stepping stone to F1, the skills I learnt while studying were all directly applicable when I went into the industry.
— Did you do any work experience?
During sixth form I did multiple short work experience stints at various local theatres in the area. I absolutely loved getting a deeper insight in to the technology used backstage to create the amazing performances.
During my degree I took an industrial placement year, and was fortunate enough to do that with Mercedes AMG HPP. I learnt so much, and enjoyed the way of working so much that I returned after graduation.
— What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge has always been my own self confidence. Knowing what I wanted, and having the confidence to go for it, despite what others may think, was and is a huge challenge, but the more I do it, the more my confidence grows.
— What was the best thing you ever did to help you get to where you are today?
The best thing I did to get where I am today was to get involved in as much extra – curricular as I could, whether motorsport related or not. Of course, having a motorsport related hobby was great when it came to applications and interviews, but any sort of keen interest in something is great to be able to talk about, and separates you from the crowd of people with the same qualifications as you.
— Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have had their studies interrupted and are unsure of how it will affect them in the future. Are there any words of advice or inspiration you can share during such a challenging time?
I would say that although these times will be challenging, and seem like the end to everything you have aimed for, try to use them as a time for something positive. For example, the IMechE has loads of great online learning resources, and there is no better time to learn a new skill, or work on developing skills you already have. It is a time to use the amazing resources available to us on the internet to grow, but also to take the time to really consider what is important to you. It may be that what you thought you really wanted starts to become less significant the more you learn about other paths.
— How are you coping with the lockdown?
I am endeavouring to follow my own advice as much as possible, by learning a new skill. I have decided to learn how to write code for Android applications, having previously coded for iOS. I am also trying to maintain a routine, and getting as much exercise as I can. Above all else, I am trying to maintain as much contact as I can with family and friends through the wonders of the internet, and being sure to answer truthfully and openly when people ask how I am.
Thank you Charlotte for taking the time to share your journey with us.