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Department of Engineering

Formula One internship brings Hugo a step closer to his dream career

Formula One internship brings Hugo a step closer to his dream career

Engineering undergraduate Hugo Parry has just completed a one-year internship at British Formula One motor racing team ROKiT Williams Racing. 

Now I have been able to experience the industry first-hand, I can confidently say my first career aim is to make it back into Formula One after completing my degree, hopefully as a member of the trackside team and ideally as a performance engineer and later as a race engineer.

Undergraduate Hugo Parry

As a Race Engineering Data Analyst, Hugo worked closely with the trackside operations team and the racing drivers themselves. He even attended the first week of winter testing in Barcelona earlier this year, as well as the in-season test in the city following the 2019 Spanish Grand Prix.

Here he details his experience.

Hi Hugo, how has the internship benefitted you?

I have learned so much during my time at ROKiT Williams Racing from some of the best engineers on the grid. I have also further developed my presentation skills and a wealth of knowledge to do with vehicle design, set-up and dynamics. 

The learning curve was extremely steep at the start. I attended my first race weekend only four days after I started the internship and I had to present in the trackside meetings. Formula One is such a fast paced industry and is constantly evolving. I learned new things every day, be it coding languages I’d never used before or understanding concepts to do with car balance and performance that I hadn’t previously considered. It’s definitely not the industry for you if you don’t work well under pressure or just want a normal 9-5 job, as there is always more to be done.

There have been a number of major highlights, the first of which was the opportunity to go to Barcelona as part of the engineering team and work trackside on the racing car with the drivers and the rest of the race team. A further highlight was being able to learn from and work with the race and performance engineers across the week in Barcelona, and support them every weekend from the ops room of the team’s UK factory.

I would also be lying if I didn’t say that meeting Sir Frank Williams, owner and co-founder of Williams Grand Prix Engineering, and Williams F1 team racing driver Robert Kubica weren’t highlights as well!

What does the role of a Race Engineering Data Analyst involve?

It is very much as the name suggests, a data analysis and presentation role. As part of the job, a critical skill is being able to process vast amounts of data quickly and efficiently, and being able to relay and analyse the important parts to the race engineers, performance engineers and drivers in a clear, concise way. This often involves a lot of graph reading, comparisons, experiments and coding. There are also a fair few ‘admin’ tasks which need to be completed, such as the upkeep and updating of trackers and applications throughout the season, so that it is easy to look back and see what we did and why, as well as using this to foresee issues that may arise. 

Another part of the role is gaining a feel for what each of the interchangeable parts on the car (i.e. suspension) can do and how this relates to what a driver says when they experience something in the car. 

What are your career aims?

For as long as I can remember, since I was about 13, working in Formula One has been the career I have set my eyes on. Now I have been able to experience the industry first-hand, I can confidently say my first career aim is to make it back into Formula One after completing my degree, hopefully as a member of the trackside team and ideally as a performance engineer and later as a race engineer. After that, I’m not really sure, potentially one day making it to a Team Principal role, but that’s a long time away. I’d like to do a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Harvard at some point as well, but for now I think I’ll take it all one step at a time.

The Department of Engineering runs an Industrial Placements scheme and supports current undergraduate students as they search and apply for summer internships. The Department also works closely with employers to promote vacancies and encourage applications for their internship opportunities. To find out more, email Vicky Houghton, Industrial Placements Co-ordinator, at placements-coordinator@eng.cam.ac.uk

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