Randeep Singh, Head of Race Strategy for McLaren Racing talks to us about his path into the industry and how he got to where he is today.
“Randeep, what’s your current job role?”
I’m responsible for the strategy team and ensuring that we, as a group, maximise our results over the season. That can range from things like determining when we should stop in a race, what tyres we should fit, but also longer-term decisions such as powerunit allocation and where to take penalties, if necessary and nominating tyres for each race weekend months in advance.
I’m also fortunate enough to be responsible for our Graduate Scheme and get to help guide the careers of some of our smartest and most passionate young engineers.
“What did you want to be when you were growing up?”
I actually always wanted to do strategy in F1 – it’s a bit of a strange one to be keen on as there’s not too much information available about what we do but the strategic and tactical side of F1 has always had my interest since I started watching F1.
“When did you know you wanted to work in F1?”
I started watching F1 at quite a late age (around 15 or so) but was instantly hooked. One of the first races I watched had an innovative 4 stop strategy from Ferrari and that piqued my interest in strategy.
“What’s the best thing about your job?”
Definitely the team I get to work with. I’m very fortunate to be able to work with people who are super smart and hard-working – it means that we’re all constantly pushing each other to improve, questioning and improving our methods and learning from other teams. Being able to work with such a great team of people and having a very varied workload (no day is ever the same) and getting to work with a wide range of departments and people means its always really fun, busy and challenging (in a good way).
“What subjects and courses did you take?”
I did Maths, Further Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and General Studies for A-Levels. I couldn’t work out which subjects to drop so I ended up doing all of the mathematical and science options available to me.
I went to university set on doing Maths, but quickly realised that Maths at university was not like Maths at A-Level, I moved over to Engineering after a year of Maths and it was much more in line with what I had been expecting and I’m glad that I did that. I did the Engineering, Economics & Management degree at the University of Oxford and the extra exposure I got to Maths, Economics and Management through my time there has been really useful in my work-life so far.
“Did you do any work experience?”
I tried to use all of my summers to do something – mostly in finance but I did a final year project with Williams F1, where I was able to write their strategy simulation software – that got me even more hooked on strategy.
“What has been your biggest challenge so far?”
The challenges are constant – it’s one of the things that keeps this job so interesting. The most challenging race I’ve done is probably the 2019 German Grand Prix! However, up there would be designing and building our Mission Control room – such a massive project, with lots of stuff we had not done before like building work, designing the workspace, 3D printing our own accessories – and we had 2 months to do it all.
“What was the best thing you ever did to help you get to where you are today?”
Writing to and getting the placement at Williams F1. I got to work with some great people and particularly Mark, who was my manager – he was the one who called me a few years later saying there was a job going at Williams to do strategy if I was interested in interviewing. I am fortunate enough to still work with him and he has been one of many people who have really helped me develop throughout my career!
“What would you say to inspire someone to follow their dreams?”
Don’t give up. This is not an easy business to get into, but you have to have to keep pushing and trying and if you do get your foot in the door make sure you give it everything. It can be demoralising at times as there are such few roles available – but perseverance is key.
“Any other comments or advice you can offer?”
Get a good grounding in engineering/maths/physics if you are looking for a technical role, that will be the foundations of what you do. Get as much experience as you can (again a case of being persistent) – it doesn’t need to be in motorsport but obviously that is quite useful. Pick up a skill that will help you stand out and make you more effective – programming is one that always stands out as it helps in so many different areas to be able to quickly knock up a bit of code to automate or improve a task.