“You don’t have enough motorsport experience”; how many times have you not heard that? This is the big catch-22 for anyone trying to get into motorsport; you need to have motorsport experience to work in motorsport. Most people that make a career in Formula One, Sportscars or any other motorsport teams typically start out in any of the many internship or graduate programmes that teams offer, but the problem is that it is extremely competitive, only the very very best are accepted. The ratio between applicants and successful candidates vary but 200:1 is not unusual.
We also see many extremely well educated candidates with PhD, MSc’s etc, who also struggle to get in because it is the WRONG degree?!? The issue from the teams point of view is that their business models do not allow for candidates not to be able to produce results on day 2. This holds more true the more senior the position is. Depending on the department, teams prefer candidates with degrees in engineering as opposed to science or the other way around and thesis work should primarily be geared towards motorsport. It also comes down to showing a real passion for the sport, if you don’t have that you will not make the cut. As ‘cultish’ as it may sound, your life should revolve around motorsport.
The third group of problems come down to the right education, but the wrong experience. So, you have a MSc with specialty in CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and Aerodynamics, but your work experience is in rotor blades on a helicopter you may not be the right fit. You will have to be pretty senior in your current field to make it in to a junior position in Formula 1 for example.
So now, how you get in to motorsport if you have not been fortunate enough to set yourself up on the right path, but have some serious skills? First action is set your mental determination, you really will have to want it and are ready to work towards it. You may have to take a step or two back in terms of your ‘title’ and be at peace with that.
Next you will have to figure out how far from the core of motorsport you will have to find your entry point. As en example we imagine that you have a background in NDT (Non-Destructive Testing), which typically is a good case of a field that translates well from most industries to motorsport. However you don’t have experience in composite carbon fibre materials, nor do you have qualifications in any testing techniques nor any experience with Ultrasound testing. With these short comings you will have to find an industry/company that will offer on the job training in the areas you lack experience and sponsors your pursuit of getting qualified. This could be an entry-level position in aerospace or with a composite consultant company supplying motorsport.
Finally, you tick all the right boxes apart from that elusive motorsport experience. You should immerse yourself in the world of motorsport; get involved in club racing, formula student programmes, etc. and offer up your expertise. Also, find employment with a company that supplies services to motorsport that will allow you to build your skill levels in motorsport while using your expertise.
Quite a few candidates that contact us will have heard from us that they need an entry point to work in motorsport and it is the reasoning above that is the basis for that. We aim to always respond to anyone who contacts us with constructive feedback as to what gaps they need to plug or how they should go about finding entry-points. Sometimes we go as far as telling people to go back to school to get their degrees and thus reset and start all over. It all comes down to the candidate’s determination and dedication.