With world famous engineers like Red Bull’s Adrian Newey, whose cars have won an astounding ten Constructors’ Championships (the ultimate prize in Formula One) with three different teams — rumor has it that Newey turned down a $20 million per year job offer from Ferrari to stay with Red Bull — engineers are the true all-stars in Formula One.
F1 teams sport some of the world’s greatest specialists in aerodynamics, batteries, engine packaging, fuel, oil, rubber compounds, and much more. Nothing is left to chance in the quest for the perfect lap time.
It also means that the competition for top talent is fierce, and the best engineers are routinely recruited straight out of university. But the Renault Sport F1 team, along with corporate cousin and sponsor Infiniti (both are owned by Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance firms) have a unique program to find the best young engineers.
“We put them on proper projects straight away,” says Tommaso Volpe, Global Motorsport Director for Infiniti. “We recruit students, not professionals.” Academy alumni have gone on to work for Renault, other F1 teams, as well as a who’s who of major engineering firms including SpaceX and Dyson.
Evan Sloan, the 2017 winner from the United States who holds a BS in mechanical engineering from CalTech, told me that he worked on a project to remap every corner on the Formula One calendar, some 300 turns, to determine entry, apex, and exit. As numerous settings on the car, from braking to differential and more, will change from corner to corner, determining exactly how these turns work is essential to taking them at maximum speed.
In 2018, some 12,000 students applied for just seven spots. Winners receive subsidized accommodations in the UK, a competitive entry-level salary, and coverage of all necessary employment and visa paperwork. Applications for the 2019 cohort are open now.