The job of an F1 pit crew member is fast-paced and intense and can be mentally and physically demanding. A pit crew member is responsible for carrying out replacements and repairs on race cars. What makes the job challenging is the fact that an F1 pit stop crew member must work at godspeed and save every single second that they can. If you have aspirations of being an F1 pit crew member, you will need the requisite skills, proper training and, of course, immense passion.
What Is The Typical Pay Scale of A Pit Crew Member?
There are many jobs in an F1 team, and similar to other organisations, the more experience you have, the higher your pay rate will be. However, if you have only recently started, the following is the approximate range in which you could earn:
Placement/Intern – £15k to £18k
Graduate Mechanical Engineers – £29k to £31k
Graduate Sales Engineers – £25k to £27k
Graduate Design Engineers – £25k to £27k
Undergraduate Contractor – £15k to 17k
Sadly, racing teams do not post job advertisements to fill vacancies in their pit crew. Also, you’re unlikely to qualify as a pit crew member if the only skill you possess is that you can remove one wheel quickly.
The harsh reality is that you need to be an active member of the team and will need a day-to-day role as well as be able to handle multiple responsibilities before you are blessed with an opportunity to stand in the pit lane. The following are some steps that you can take to increase your chances of being an F1 pit crew member.
A good way to get a foot in the door is to sign up for internships. It will help you get in touch with people who are already on an F1 team. An internship is temporary work experience that may last for a few months where you will contribute to the team in general areas.
Apprenticeships help you train in a specific job which will, in turn, help you to find formal employment. This is suitable for those individuals who have greater clarity about the role they are hoping to secure on the crew.
An engineering degree can greatly increase your odds of securing a position in an F1 pit crew. The skills which it is necessary for you to possess in order to become a mechanic can be picked up with the help of an engineering degree. The best universities for engineering in the UK are Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, and Loughborough.
Fast Track Programmes
The Autosport Engineering Award is a fast-track programme which is an excellent way to overtake other engineering students who aspire to become an F1 pit crew member. By fast-tracking onto an accelerated development programme, you will learn what it is like to work with an F1 race team, take on multiple roles and responsibilities in the company, and get crucial guidance from senior engineers before you finalise your area of specialisation.
Before you enroll yourself in a pit crew training programme, you need to make sure that you are aware of the basics of automotive engineering. You can sign up for an automotive repair course which is offered in several community colleges around the country and gain hands-on experience by working for a local auto mechanic. You will need to be passionate about cars and learn everything that you can about them; what the functions are of various car parts and how to repair them.
As we mentioned earlier, pit crew members may have only a single task to do in the pit lane, but they must have all-round knowledge. This will help you to spot errors made by fellow pit crew members. You can also take classes at an auto repair school to gain a certificate and some experience.
Pit Crew Training
For students who wish to work on professional pit crews, there are many schools around the country that offer hands-on training. The duration of the course is typically around 9 to 12 months and will teach you the basics of sheet metal fabrication, welding, bending rollbars, frame jigs and suspension, tubing knotchers, and panel-making. Technician training programmes tend to be longer in duration and its curriculum covers topics on chassis, racing engines, pit crew, and aerodynamics.
FItness is something that you need to possess if you are thinking about changing a tyre in a few milliseconds. The work of an F1 pit crew member is physically demanding in nature as car repairs need to be carried out in a high-pressure, fast-paced outdoor environment and good stamina can make a huge difference.
Pit crew members have long workdays and must have the endurance to work energetically for 12 to 15 hours. Before you take any formal training to be a pit crew member it is advisable to raise your overall fitness level by doing cardio exercises such as running, swimming and sprint training. You will need to follow a good diet plan and ensure that you are in peak physical condition.
Your fitness level also depends on the role that you wish to take on in an F1 pit crew. For instance, if you aspire to be a jackman, you will need to be agile and have good upper body strength. A tyre changer, on the other hand, should be small in stature and have excellent hand-eye coordination.
Lastly, Courage and Persistence
It is next to impossible that a crew will take you on-board within a few weeks of starting training. You may have to start in a smaller touring series and focus on mastering your skills. You shouldn’t lose sight of your goal though; keep trying to work your way up to larger circuits. You will need to make connections, network with your former pit crew school, and prove your skills in every team that you’re a part of.
The pit lane is not a place for the faint-hearted. You will need to stand strong even when there is a racing car braking from over 60 miles per hour and coming right at you. Even though safety standards have risen from the earlier ages of Formula One, there is always the possibility of accidents taking place in the pit lane.
Following the steps given above should put you in a better position to be selected by a racing team as a pit crew member.