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So, you want to be an F1 data engineer?

From designing immersive dashboard tools that highlight key performance trends to running analysis in Mission Control during race weekends, an F1 data engineer's role is all about one thing – understanding that information is everything – as Pippa Treacy explains when lifting the lid on what it takes to be one.

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Taking an F1 car from baseline setup in the build-up to a Grand Prix to a podium place at the flag is a complex process. With more than 250 sensors pumping data from the car into a vast pool from which the team's engineers must extract the optimum setup for Qualifying and the race, it's all too easy to get swept away in the torrent of information. And that's where an F1 data engineer is worth their weight in gold.

Tasked with streamlining the data flow and making key information easily visible to a drivers' race and performance engineers to aid analysis and optimisation, the data engineer performs a key role in channelling information towards performance gains, on track and from the team's Mission Control room at the AMR Technology Campus.

But what makes a good F1 data engineer and what does it take to be one? Aston Martin Aramco Formula One Team Data Engineer Pippa Treacy, provides the answers…

It's about getting the most out of the car

"As a data engineer my role is to support the performance and the race engineers by developing data visualisation toolsets and providing timely data-driven insights. The toolsets delve beyond lap-by-lap data analysis, offering a comprehensive global perspective. This enables race and performance engineers to swiftly pinpoint performance patterns and prioritise tasks effectively. Ultimately, the goal is to maximise the car's potential during and after each session."

If you're interested, there are fantastic tools to get you started

"There are tools you can access, such as FastF1, which is a Python API, and provides you with F1 telemetry data – not to the same extent as what we have here at Aston Martin Aramco, but it's a great way to begin immersing yourself in the kind of data we work with.

"With a bit of simple plotting, you can gain some further insight into the relative performances between teams and understand the circuits the various teams are stronger or weaker at in terms of quali and race pace, among many other insights."

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I've always been passionate about sport. I love being part of a team, working to that singular goal of winning.
Pippa Treacy, Data Engineer

What makes a good data engineer?

"We're looking for someone with experience of coding in Python for more exploratory data analysis or TypeScript for creating interactive dashboards.

"You must also be able to manage relationships and understand the needs of different team members. An F1 data engineer must liaise with both software engineers and performance engineers. You're constantly balancing the needs of the performance engineers with the resources available on the software side and must factor that in when building and developing toolsets."

You need to be passionate – really passionate

"Any role in F1 is fast-paced and being a data engineer is no exception – it comes with the territory of working in professional sport; there is a constant focus on trying to find ways to maximise performance and outperform your competitors.

"To sustain that focus you need to be passionate about the role, about what you're working on. A career in F1 is hugely rewarding, but it will challenge you: it's high pressure, there are tight deadlines, long hours – and it's fiercely competitive. Passion is what will fuel your determination to overcome the challenges.

"I've always been passionate about sport. I love being part of a team, working to that singular goal of winning. So that, in combination with my love for science and maths, guided me towards engineering."

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If I had a piece of advice for someone looking to get into motorsport, I would say, get out there and gain trackside experience.
Pippa Treacy, Data Engineer

Experience matters

"Studying mechanical engineering will give you the academic understanding and foundation you need but building on that foundation with relevant experience is what will help you stand out from other candidates and demonstrate your passion.

"While I was studying mechanical engineering, I met Nicci Daly who was running an initiative called Formula Female in my home country of Ireland and that's what really encouraged me to pursue a career in motorsport. Having her as a sounding board was imperative for me.

"I managed to get some trackside experience in Britcar and Formula Ford and then did an MSc in Advanced Motorsport Engineering. This helped me forge connections within the industry, which was key because it can be very challenging to get a foothold in the sport when you don't have contacts and a lot of experience. I got a job with another Formula One team before joining Aston Martin Aramco. Since I joined the team, I haven't looked back.

"If I had a piece of advice for someone looking to get into motorsport, I would say, get out there and gain trackside experience in lower series motorsport. If that's not possible, then try to get experience at a local garage and start building up a portfolio of code-based projects. It's important to get some practical understanding, it also exposes you to what a race weekend is like and the rhythm it follows."

What an engineer wants

"As a data engineer, I've found it to be invaluable being in Mission Control on weekends at the AMR Technology Campus. Monitoring the tools, making changes during the weekend to react to requests for features, and getting involved in the data analysis has helped me to build better toolsets by really getting an idea of the importance of certain aspects and why performance engineers and race engineers want certain workflows on their dashboards."

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I love the camaraderie and energy. When you get a podium, the noise levels definitely heighten and everyone is grinning ear to ear, that's when Mission Control does get a bit hectic.
Pippa Treacy, Data Engineer

What it's really like to be in Mission Control

"Mission Control is calmer than trackside, it's slightly removed from the whole scenario that's playing out on track. Despite all the data and information that's flowing in and out of the room, it's not a hectic place – even during those high-pressure moments during Qualifying and the race.

"Everyone has headsets on, so it's not too chaotic. It's fast-paced in terms of what you're doing, but everyone's not jumping up and down. It's not like Wall Street or anything like that!"

Occasionally, Mission Control isn't so calm…

"I've always been competitive. I've been involved in so many different sports from a young age. I love the camaraderie and energy that goes with it. When you do end up getting a podium, the noise levels definitely heighten and everyone is grinning ear to ear, that's when Mission Control does get a bit hectic and you know you've done well."

Information is everything

So, you want to be a Data Engineer?

Pippa Treacy discusses what it takes to be an F1 data engineer.

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Success is great but there's satisfaction in learning – and you learn a lot in this role

"There is so much to learn as a data engineer, it's never-ending. It's so interesting. It's two-fold in terms of, yes, it's great that you know you're all doing well when the car is doing well, but as an individual, you know you're improving if you can incrementally develop things and you can see an opportunity to move toward different kinds of toolsets that aid more interactive data analysis.

"It's an iterative process and it takes time but it's a rewarding and exciting one. You're constantly exploring how you can develop the toolsets further and that will ultimately help us take steps forward on the track."

Top tips
Study STEM subjects.
Gain motorsport experience.
Develop your coding skills – Python and TypeScript.
Have a passion for engineering and sport.

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