Tim, Experimental Aerodynamicist, Scuderia Ferrari

  • Photo of case study


    MEng Aeronautical Engineering (2010)

    Experimental Aerodynamicist, Scuderia Ferrari


Since leaving Bristol...

I had a rough career plan in mind when I left Bristol and managed to secure employment as a Design Development Engineer just a few months after graduation (testament to the 'employability' of Bristol graduates). The company I joined was small, with around 200 employees in total. At the time this didn't feel like much of a step towards my goal of working in Formula 1, however I felt that any relevant engineering experience I could gain would ultimately put me in good stead. As it turned out, working within a small team not only allowed me to put my theoretical and practical engineering skills into practice but also to gain other engineering skills which are not prevalent in Formula 1 (such as working alongside a commercial sales team, presenting technical information to customers and representing the company at industrial conventions).

This combination of a highly-regarded engineering education and 'real world' practical experience were critical to my securing a first Formula 1 role in 2012, and both were discussed at length during interview.

In reality securing a job at Formula 1 was as I had expected; difficult, but very possible given persistence and determination!

In my current job…

I currently work as an Experimental Aerodynamicist at Ferrari Formula One team (Scuderia Ferrari). Using data from computational design and fluid dynamics software (CFD), my primary role is to test aerodynamic concepts and evaluate whether they will bring performance to the race car.

Having completed conceptual development in CFD, promising schemes are rapid prototyped (3D printed) to 60% scale and tested in the team's windtunnel facility. Being responsible for planning and conducting windtunnel tests, this is one of the more intense parts of my job; mistakes made during testing can be incredibly expensive. Following a successful test, parts which made an improvement to the aerodynamic model are released to full-scale design for manufacture and implementation on the race car.

The development cycle in Formula 1 is short-lived and relentless, but it is because of this demanding atmosphere that I share in an amazing team spirit and the camaraderie which hard work brings. The F1 community is incredibly tight-knit and down-to-earth, so despite the inevitable downsides, such as long working days and night shifts in the windtunnel, I can honestly say that 'going to work' rarely feels as such.

Having a UoB degree...

As engineering students, we were continually reminded of how highly respected a degree from Bristol is within industry. However, it wasn't until going out to make use of it that I realised how true this is. I often find that my Bristol education allows me to talk confidently on many aerospace subjects, and generally in more breadth and depth than colleagues with differing or more specialised degree backgrounds (such as Motorsport Engineering). Being accredited by the engineering council, a Bristol degree also allows for continued professional development and enabled me to become a chartered engineer with the IMechE.

Aerospace education aside, I also have no doubt that the varied co-curricular activities on offer at Bristol left me with a host of transferable skills - something which gave me a clear advantage as a jobseeker. Be they the organisational and communication skills gathered as captain of the Engineering Society football team, or experience in leadership and problem solving from my time with the University Air Squadron, it is often these personal and unique experiences which generate the most interesting (and advantageous) talking points during interviews.

Towards the end of my time at Bristol, I also made use of the University Careers Service. Not only did they give me advice on how to write a good-looking CV, but they also arranged one-to-one meetings to review my job applications and share interview tips. Be sure to make use of this valuable resource!


My advice to anyone looking for career in motorsport is not to give up! You will lose track of how many job applications go unanswered, but remember it takes just one to get noticed and kick-start your career.

More generally, follow up any applications made with a phone call to the team (the online 'Autosport directory' is a great source of contact information in this respect), and be savvy about how you make prospective applications. Unsolicited emails to HR departments will at best be responded with a kindly note to apply for an advertised position, so do your research and get the names of technical managers who might have a say in hiring you.

Knowing what I know now, one thing I would have done differently as a student is try harder to gain industrial experience with a Formula 1 team or another within top-level motorsport. Most established teams run summer or industrial placements, and any exposure you can get to the industry (even if it's just for a few weeks) will give a huge advantage when it comes to applying for a full-time position. Many of my current colleagues began their careers in this way, including some from Bristol.