You don’t have to be mad to work in motorsport but it helps! A career in motorsport takes immense sacrifice and dedication. NMA Student Ellie Williams knows all about that but her hard work and persistence paid off this year when she secured a top job in motorsport with Alpine F1.
Ellie left home at 16 and moved away to pursue her dream of a career in motorsport. After studying for a BTEC National Diploma and Foundation Degree in Motorsport Engineering at Oxford & Cherwell Valley College Ellie joined the Sahara Force India F1 Team as Composite Technician. Following a move to Renault F1 Team, Ellie decided to continue her education and study the National Motorsport Academy’s Top-Up Motorsport Engineering Degree. We caught up with Ellie as she was in between races in Austria…
When did you decide you wanted to work in motorsport?
There weren’t many topics I really enjoyed at school. I found it quite difficult to knuckle down and have an interest in subjects I didn’t want to learn.
I was in my early teens, I was sat at school one day and googled ‘motorsport college’ and from that moment on, my life changed! When I went to college it was much better as I was actually learning about something I was interested in.
So you left home at 16?
The college I attended was in Bicester, Oxfordshire but I lived with my parents on the south coast, so I would need to move. When I told my parents I wanted to go to motorsport college, they were shocked at first but very supportive. Leaving home at 16 was tough but I’m an independent person and soon found my way.
You were already working with an F1 team. Why did you decide to study with the NMA?
At college, I completed my BTEC Diploma and started the Foundation degree in Motorsport Engineering. Whilst I was completing a work experience module at Force India F1 team, I applied for a trainee composite technician role and I was successful so went to work full time and left my degree. As my career developed, I soon realised that in order to progress further I would need an engineering degree. With working full time at Renault, now Alpine F1 team, I needed something flexible, so I did some research into online degrees and came across the National Motorsport Academy.
How did you fit studying around such a hectic worklife?
There were no big issues fitting it in around work but it did become more difficult during busy period’s such as car build. I had to organise myself and accept the fact I’d have to spend lunchtimes and evenings doing studying which meant less free time, but I knew it wouldn’t be forever!
How do you think your motorsport degree will help your career?
I have only recently finished my degree and at the same time, I took a new job at Alpine and now work full time with the race team. I’m hoping that my current role will open up new opportunities for me in the future and having my degree will certainly help.
What's the best thing about your job?
Aside from working with great people, the best part of my job is the satisfaction of finishing a race weekend with a good result, especially if it’s been a challenging week! You can work really long hours during the week before a race and you sometimes find yourself asking ‘why am I doing this’ but after a good race result, its worth it.
How is it being a women working in motorsport?
Even though I am female in what some people would call a ‘male dominated’ industry, I don’t feel like I have missed out on any opportunities. I am treated fairly and with respect from all my colleagues and I’ve never felt at all intimidated or concerned about my ability to work in the motorsport industry.
And finally, if you could drive any car what would it be?
A classic mini – my first race car was a mini and I would love to have one on the road now!
Thanks to Ellie & Alpine F1 Team....
It’s a busy life working in F1, especially mid-season. We’d like to thank Ellie and the Alpine F1 Team for finding the time to help us out. We wish the whole team all the best for the rest of the season!