Case study

Key stepping stone to my engineering career in F1

Will Daniels knew fulfilling his dream of working as an engineer in Formula One would not be easy. But now, after graduating from our BEng (Hons) Motorsport Engineering, he is part of the Renault F1 team, testing and developing the cars driven by racing stars Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon.

Choosing to study motorsport at Derby

“If you do what everyone else does, you will get what everyone else gets.”

This quote from mind power professional Stephen Richards is what inspired Will to join us at the University of Derby and pursue his passion. The BEng (Hons) Motorsport Engineering graduate is now a Wind Tunnel Project Engineer for the Renault Sport Racing team. 

“I wanted to have a career within motorsport, specifically Formula One although knew that I would have to jump some hurdles to get there. Therefore, I studied Motorsport Engineering as it is a key stepping stone to becoming an engineer, and to gain both theoretical and practical skills which I could use at my future workplaces.”

When searching for a University that offered Motorsport Engineering, Will wanted to be close to motorsport valley, with Donington Park racetrack being on the doorstep, so that he could keep up his weekend work as a freelance trackside engineer. He also wanted to be part of a smaller and more intimate degree course as he struggled to keep up in large lectures.

Will has some advice when choosing a University and degree course. He says: “It's important that you understand what the course is offering you, and that it is something you are happy to spend three years focusing on. Having an end goal always helps, but don’t be afraid to stray away from the path most travelled, as you never know where it could lead.”

One of the most valuable things Will found while studying the course was the extras activities you can get involved in such as Formula Student, which is Europe's most established engineering competition and involves student teams around the world who design, build, test and race a small-scale formula style racing car.

Will also found staff helped encourage him to explore what else he could do and find in real motorsport paddocks. In Will’s case he joined Excelr8 motorsport as a data engineer.

A student sat in the student car in the motorsport workshop
Two students stood next to the wind tunnel in the STEM centre
An imagine of parts of an engine

Improving performance

As a Wind Tunnel Project Engineer, Will is responsible for the operation, maintenance, upgrades and data quality of the wind tunnel for the Renault F1 team. He works in a team of five who work on a mix of hands-on testing and reporting, data analysis and future development work.

He points out that even though his direct impact on the car is not visible, he develops the tool in which the whole of the aero department uses to develop the aerodynamic surfaces and concepts of a Formula One car, which is the biggest performance factor in Formula One currently.

“The better job the team does in the operational group of which I am part of, the better the development of the car can be and therefore the better the on-track performance.” 

In the future, Will plans to develop his knowledge within vehicle dynamics through self-study, so he can hopefully join the vehicle performance group within Renault Sport Racing. He would also like to develop his weekend freelance role into a race engineering position.

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