How to become a Number 1 Mechanic in F1 – Qualifications, skills & more

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For a mechanic there’s surely no better job than working for a Formula 1 team, fixing the most advanced cars in the world, but how do you get there? What skills does it take, what qualifications, and how do you get your foot in the door? To find out how a mechanic can get to Formula 1 we spoke to Elliot Parkes – the No. 1 Mechanic for Haas F1 Team’s Nikita Mazepin – to find out all about the job, and the parts fans don’t see.

What is your role?

I am the No.1 Mechanic for Nikita Mazepin. I oversee a team of No. 2 mechanics and I am responsible for the build, reliability and safety of all aspects of the car.

How do you become a Mechanic?

I left school and went to the Motorsport College in Silverstone and started an apprenticeship from there – from junior formula, work experience and working for free or working for the cost of your fuel. I finished my apprenticeship at a Formula 3 team and moved up to GP2 before finally moving into Formula 1.

What qualifications do you need?

None! Of course, it’s useful to get your qualifications to get a foot in the door at college or a lower level team, if for example, you get down to the final two and they take that into consideration.

Nikita Mazepin, Haas F1

Nikita Mazepin, Haas F1

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

What should you study in school?

Anything technology related like design technology at school can be beneficial.

What other skills are useful?

You should have a good knowledge of mechanical systems. The best education you can give yourself is by ensuring you’re the person who fixes your own bike when you’re younger, taking things apart and messing around with them.

How can I get work experience?

Ask around and be willing to work for free to start with. It’s the only way as there is very little money in the junior formula side of things. Send your CV in – even if there isn’t a lot on it at this point – as it will show you’re keen. Make it known that you’re willing to travel, pay for yourself to get to places and will sleep wherever! It’s all valuable experience and it’s always noticed, even at that early stage.

Do you get to go to races?

Yes, including tests.

Nikita Mazepin, Haas VF-21

Nikita Mazepin, Haas VF-21

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

What does a day at work look like for you?

It’s usually an early start, with Friday being the longest day at track. You’ll get to the garage, do pitstop practice, have a quick breakfast before fire up and continue working up until the first practice session. Between sessions, depending on how well it’s gone, you may only need to clean and refuel the car but if it hasn’t gone so well, you could be flat out until the start of the next session. We then prep for the next day and the car will usually change a fair amount. Quite often, we’re running for the gate to make sure we’re out of the track before the curfew is in action.

What’s your role involving pitstops?

For the last few years, I’ve been the gunman on the right front, so you’re managing that corner as you are the person who gives the ‘ok’ to go. When pressing that button, you have to be sure that everyone else has done their bits, it’s safe and it’s complete. When you press the ‘go’ button, there is no going back. It’s a lot of responsibility and you must trust the team that are around you to do their job as well. You get used to doing pitstops and it becomes second nature. We practice so often but rarely it can go wrong. This year is a learning year for us but if we’re competing for places or points, that pressure comes back.

This article was created in partnership with Motorsport Jobs. Find the latest jobs in motorsport, as well as jobs with the Haas F1 Team, on the Motorsport Jobs website.

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