Michael Leonard

R&D Placement Student

Formula Careers takes a look behind the scenes of Aston Martin Racing and their Industrial Placement programme and meets the inspirational students carving a path to a successful career in Formula 1.

Tell us about yourself and how your passion for F1 began

My name is Michael, and I’m from Anglesey – an island off the coast of North Wales. As is the case for many people, my passion for F1 came from a young age and mainly revolved around sitting in front of the TV on a Sunday afternoon.

As I got a little bit older, I became more and more interested in the engineering side of the sport. By the time I was 12, I was set that I wanted to work in Formula 1.

Was the interview process for your placement as you expected it to be?

The interview process was much less scary than I build it up to be in my head! Having an interview for a job you really want is always going to be nerve-wrecking, but you have to try to just put the nerves to bed so you can relax and be yourself.

How did you ensure your application stood out from the rest?

I focussed more on the extracurricular things I do, rather than discussing my university course or the qualifications I have. This helped me show the team who I was as a person, rather than making my covering letter sound like a university prospectus!

How did you feel when you found out your application was successful?

In my case, I received a phone call to tell me that I was being offered the job. It was an awesome feeling – the biggest challenge was staying professional and containing my excitement down the phone!

What was your first day like?

The first day at AMF1 is incredibly inspiring. There’s nothing quite like walking through the front doors of a Formula 1 team for the very first time, after dreaming about it for so long! My first day was very much a case of being shown around and getting to know people. Everyone is incredibly friendly and happy to help you get settled.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My role was within the Research & Development department and, across my entire placement, no two days are the same! On a typical day, you’d usually find me designing rig parts, analysing data, writing code or conducting tests.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since your placement began?

Even in Formula 1, not everything can be perfect all the time. The trick is to strive for perfection where perfection is needed and not to waste energy in the places it’s not.

What do you think has helped you to get to where you are today?

My parents have always been incredibly supportive and have been right behind me every step of the way. Their support is the single biggest thing that has helped me get to where I am today.

Any particular extra curricular activities you’d recommend to students wanting to work in F1?

Without a doubt, getting involved in Formula Student is a great way to get some real hands-on experience and learn a lot more than simply what is taught on the university course.

If you could give current students one piece of advice for their application, what would it be?

Be yourself, be honest and (as much as you can) enjoy the application process

Any other advice you’d like to share?

Throw yourself into everything and make the most of the awesome opportunity.

Return to the Industrial Placement Information Portal