Celebrating 2021 International Women In Engineering Day!
Happy International Women In Engineering Day! I’m Evie Harris. I previously wrote a post for Females In Motorsport (FinM), which you can find here. International Women in Engineering Day isn’t very well known, so FinM’s founder Helena and I wanted to celebrate some extraordinary female engineers in Formula 1. There were many to pick from, but we chose the five below. Enjoy!
Margarita ‘Marga’ Torres Díez, Trackside F1 Power Unit Engineer at Mercedes AMG High-Performance Powertrains
Marga was born in Spain and attended the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. She studied Industrial Engineering there until 2010. Upon her graduation, Marga became an Engine Engineer for Renault Sport Racing, based in France. That was Marga’s job for almost a year before changing roles to be one of their Formula 1 Engine Test Engineers.
After three years at Renault, in 2014, Marga moved to work at Mercedes-AMG High-Performance Powertrains (HPP) as a Trackside F1 Power Unit Engineer. In an interview with AS.com, Marga explained her job;
“During a session, with the car on the track, I am behind the wall looking at the data. About a thousand parameters such as temperatures or pressures arrive. In my case, I follow those related to the engine, the battery, the electric motors or the turbo.”
At the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix, Marga took to the podium to accept the Constructors’ Trophy on Mercedes’ behalf. She became only the fifth woman to do so in Formula 1’s history.
Six months later, another talented woman stood upon the F1 podium by the name of Hannah Schmitz.
Hannah Schmitz, Senior Race Strategist at Red Bull Racing F1 Team
Hannah Schmitz’s first role in F1 came directly after graduating from Cambridge University. She joined Red Bull Racing F1 as a Modelling and Simulation Engineer where Hannah learned some programming languages and said that she also “gained knowledge of optimisation algorithms and solvers”.
After just a year and a half, Hannah was promoted to Senior Race Strategist at Red Bull. She’s now had that job for an incredible 10 years. Hannah’s position means that she sits on the pit wall calculating race strategy, including what we see on TV. Examples are when and how many times the drivers will ‘box’ for new tyres and which tyre compounds they will use.
At the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, Hannah chose to pit Max Verstappen for a third time, temporarily taking him out of first place. In the end, her courageous move was pivotal in getting Verstappen the win. At that race, Hannah became the third woman that year to accept the Constructors’ Trophy.
In an interview with F1.com, Christian Horner [Red Bull Racing F1’s Team Principal] credited Hannah for the team’s win, noting that she decided to pit Verstappen again.
“That’s why I sent her up [to the podium] today. She’s a working mum, she’s driving ridiculous hours to get into work, giving it everything, and that’s real team work.”
Hannah’s passion and commitment to her work are admirable, which is massively motivating for those such as myself, who aim to work in F1 in the future.
Dr Valeria Loreti, Delivery Manager at Shell Motorsport
Dr Valeria Loreti has spent the past decade working across various business sectors at Shell. Based at their Technology Centre in Hamburg, she manages the relationships and delivery of fuels and lubricants to all of Shell’s partners in motorsport, including Scuderia Ferrari in F1, Ducati in MotoGP and Hyundai in WRC.
With a degree in chemistry – from the University of Pisa – and a PhD in Analytical Chemistry, Dr Loreti thrives in perhaps the hidden side to engineering in motorsport. Yet, in her current role, she’s responsible for delivering the lifeblood of an F1 car on time and providing fuel that is of the standard approved by the FIA.
“I’m really proud to be on the technical side because we have a number of relationships with diverse partners, the most famous being Ferrari,” she told Females in Motorsport. “It’s not just about putting our sticker on the side of the car, it’s about common development.
“You need to love it, it’s a kind of work that you can only do if you dedicate yourself 100%.”
[Keep an eye on Females In Motorsport’s site, as they will be publishing their complete article on Dr Loreti in the coming weeks]
Julie Coulter, Project Engineer for Engine Systems and Electrical at McLaren F1 Team
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Julie was a strong academic student who loved science and maths. Her hobbies included building items and finding out “how things worked”. In an interview with McLaren, Julie shared that she was involved in the Engineering Leadership programme run by F1 in Schools and it was then she knew engineering was her passion.
Julie pursued that desire by studying Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). While at university, Julie completed a year-long student placement at Red Bull Racing F1 team and won The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Engineering Leadership Advanced Award. Julie also led her university’s Formula Student team. Formula Student is a competition in which contenders produce and test their own small-scale racing car against schools from across the globe.
Upon Julie’s graduation from QUB with a 1st class Master’s Degree, she became a part of the McLaren F1 Team’s workforce as an Operations graduate. Julie described that role as being “responsible for planning and purchasing of all parts required to complete wind tunnel testing.” After seven months, Julie switched to her current role as a Project Engineer, which she has held for over five years. Julie described the responsibility of her job as monitoring “the fuel system, electrical systems and parts of the steering and cooling systems”. But she’s done much more than that.
During the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, McLaren joined VentilatorsChallengeUK, helping produce ventilators for the UK. Julie’s position was as a Buyer for Electrical Looms and Electrical Assemblies. She played a significant part in McLaren’s efforts, and the team managed to send out over 200,000 loom assemblies – a tremendous success. She’s now back at her usual role as Project Engineer and has since looked back on the opportunity as “a real privilege”.
Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Collins, Senior Race Strategist at Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team
Also from Northern Ireland, Bernie previously stated in interviews, that as a child, she wasn’t aware of what the role of an engineer entailed and didn’t see working in F1 as a possibility. However, as she grew older, she discovered her passion for science and maths and started upon the engineering path. Bernie also attended Queen’s University Belfast and chose to specialise in Mechanical Engineering. Once again, the Formula Student challenge was what made Bernie set her sights on a career in F1.
She earned a place in McLaren’s graduate programme during 2009, her last year at Queen’s, which developed into a full-time role. While she was there, she also gained engineering knowledge in other racing series. In 2012, Bernie became a performance engineer at McLaren. She spent most of the next year working at a GT team. In late 2013, Bernie came back to McLaren F1 as a race engineer, and in 2014 focused on driver Jenson Button’s performance.
She described that job in a 2014 McLaren Q&A, “. . . I work closely with Jenson and my fellow engineers to optimise the set-up of the car and hopefully enable him to achieve the best possible outcome in the race.”
In May 2015, Bernie joined Force India F1 as a Performance and Senior Race Strategist. With her bold strategy decisions, the team earned several podiums and points finishes. It’s been almost six years following the start of her job at Force India (later Racing Point and now rebranded as Aston Martin). Her current position is more visible than ever as Head of Race Strategy, inspiring many engineering hopefuls and fans alike with her impressive career journey.
Thank you for reading this article! It’s so important to support the current and future generation of engineers. If you’re interested in a career in F1 engineering, be sure to check out the links below. However, it’s vital to note that the vacancies aren’t just in engineering, as F1 teams need people with a variety of skills!