Aerodynamics 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’s Scarlett, I recently completed a year long placement at Aston Martin Formula 1 Team in the aerodynamics department and will be returning for a summer placement in 2023.
I am currently in my third year studying Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering at the University of Southampton. I’ve been watching F1 pretty much ever since I was born so it’s pretty engrained in me!
I’ve always had an interest in racing and in engineering so it was a logical step for me to try to combine these two interests into a career. I enjoyed subjects such as maths, physics and product design at school so this further supported F1 engineering as a career path.
Was the interview process for your placement as you expected it to be?
The technical interview was challenging as I had very limited aerodynamic knowledge at that point but I did expect that. What surprised me was how friendly and relaxed the interviewers were – it made it much more comfortable than I expected and you didn’t feel too embarrassed when you got something wrong (which in my case happened frequently).
How did you ensure your application stood out from the rest?
In my opinion, if you’re genuinely passionate about the job you’re applying for then showing that is your best asset. In my application, I tried to get across to the hiring managers that I was going to be capable of learning on the job and I had so much enthusiasm for F1 and aerodynamics that I would always put in 100%. Having relevant career experience is a great way of showing that.
How did you feel when you found out your application was successful?
Elated. Completely elated and in absolute shock. It felt like after 10 years of hard work it had finally been recognised and I was being given the chance to prove that I could do what I had strived for for so long.
What was your first day like?
When I first arrived at the factory I met all the other placement students (all of whom looked very scared – just as I did) and then I was shown around the aero department and met my manager. I had a meeting with him then began some CAD training.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Typically, the first thing I would do in the morning would be to review the CFD cases I had submitted the previous evening. Based on the analysis of the results, I would then scheme some different options of the part I was working on (usually the beam wing) and submit them to CFD. I would often have projects being run in the wind tunnel so there was usually some kind of preparation in advance of the session that I had to complete or some analysis of a previous session’s results.
What do you think the most important lesson has been since you started?
For me, the most important thing I have learned is that there is no limit to what you can achieve when you work hard enough for it. In F1, absolutely nothing comes easily and the amount of effort required for anything at all to work is huge, but if you really apply yourself and believe that you can progress then there is no barrier that can’t be overcome.
What do you think has helped you to get to where you are today?
Hard work! I believe that you have to want something more than everyone else to get it, because only with true drive towards a goal will you go the extra mile to achieve it. Everyone who is pursuing a job in F1 will be at a high standard academically but you have to be willing to push yourself to get more experience than them, build a bigger network than them and ultimately become a more attractive candidate than them. It’s a very competitive industry so you have to be ready to compete.
Any particular extra curricular activities you’d recommend to students wanting to work in F1?
I would recommend finding an activity that you enjoy because if you don’t enjoy it then there’s no point in doing it. Engineering experience helps, so anything that involves some hands-on engineering such as Formula Student can be really beneficial. However, you have to make sure you’re really contributing and are getting something out of the experience.
If you could give current students one piece of advice for their application, what would it be?
Be yourself. At the end of the day, you’re going to be a very similar level academically to most of the other candidates so the interviewers want to know if you’re the kind of person they’re going to want to work with day in day out.
Any other advice you’d like to share?
My placement was the best year of my life and I achieved more than I ever thought I would. If you’re passionate about the job you’re applying for and driven towards your goal then go for it – it’s the most fantastic experience and you won’t regret it.