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 Ronan Antonelli, I work as a Composite Design Engineer at Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN.
— Could you give me a summary of your job role?
As a Composite Design Engineer, my main role is to design chassis and bodywork structures for our race car. We normally liaise with our aerodynamics department, from where the aerodynamic surfaces (external shape) come from, and split the car in several parts, taking into consideration aspects such as weight, stiffness, manufacturability, modularity and serviceability. Then, working closely with our calculation group, every structure is optimized to achieve maximum performance.
— What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a child I always liked to read books about inventions, cars and technology and it wasn’t difficult to decide to become an engineer.
— When did you know you wanted to work in Formula 1?
While growing up, I used to watch the races every weekend and I always had my eye on the technical updates that the teams were bringing to every race. It has always impressed me how creative they were and how they were always able to overcome regulations limitations and design an even faster car.
— What’s the best thing about your job?
What I love the most is the freedom we have to be creative. Of course we always have some constraints to respect, but as long as the solution you come up with is an improvement, it’s likely it will become reality.
— What did you study?
I studied Mechanical Engineering in Brazil at UDESC University, simultaneously taking some relevant subjects from the Automotive Engineering course from UFSC University, also in Brazil. Following that, I enrolled in the MSc in Motorsports Engineering at Oxford Brookes University, graduating in 2014.
— Did you do any work experience?
My first work experience was an internship in the refrigeration industry, at Embraco (formerly owned by Whirlpool Latin America). Although not in the automotive industry, this experience has helped me to learn a lot about product development and how to work as a team. I do recommend students to take as much work experience as they can.
— What has been your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge I have faced was when I first started in Formula 1. I had arrived in a very busy period and didn’t have much time to adapt to the very fast-paced environment. Luckily, I had great people to support me and I can say I have never learned so much in such a short period of time.
— What was the best thing you ever did to help you get to where you are today?
Although I recommend people to get involved with Formula Student, I took a different approach during my MSc in the UK. I tried to build relationships with people from the automotive/motorsport industry and work as a freelancer as much as I could.
— 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?
It’s a very challenging moment indeed, but I think it’s also an opportunity to sit down and reorganise your goals.
Take me as an example, as the Formula 1 is on a shutdown for the next weeks, I have created a plan with the objectives I would like to achieve in this period. I am trying to use this extra time to develop a few personal and professional aspects which I believe I have to improve.
For students, I would suggest you to build some relationships for the future, study some extra curricular subjects that can help you grow and plan how can you achieve your goals. Let’s say, if you want to be a Design Engineer, now it’s a great time to practice your CAD skills. If you want to work with Aerodynamics, why not to learn a bit more about simulation or to take online classes about the subject?
It’s a matter of being positive and making the best of the opportunity.
— How are you coping with the lockdown?
Like mentioned, Formula 1 is on a shutdown, which means I have lots of free time. I am trying to be as productive as I can, so I have some tasks assigned for every day I am at home and this helps me to keep focused. I normally spend my time studying, planning my goals, planning my investments and leave some fun time and home workouts for the evening. Luckily, weather has been great so I can enjoy some sunshine on my balcony!
Thank you Ronan for taking the time to share your journey with us.