Friday, April 11, 2008

What Makes an F1 Engineer

Do the top engineers in Formula 1 - who are paid in millions of dollars - have anything in common with normal human beings? Yes. They are exactly human. What makes them truly stand out of the crowd, however, is just one thing. Attention to detail. It means that F1 engineers are constantly on the look-out for improvements, however minuscule they (the improvements) may be - improvements in all forms of their professional life. They have such a passion for their job that they just enjoy improving their car and in the process, themselves. Engineering an F1 car is a ridiculously tough job. The stakes are very high - your company will have poured millions of bucks into the development program, millions of people will be  watching your progress (or, the lack thereof) and your own personal ability is there to be proven. In such an environment it is truly a gargantuan task to keep applying engineering solutions to problems - problems in the sense, factors that hinder a car going even faster. That's because, the engineers will, most often, not have any reference to which they can fall back to; they'll be inventing solutions. And when you invent, it's human nature to wonder for a moment whether or not you've done (invented) the right thing. And in F1, the engineers can't, even for a day, have a second thought about their solutions - you need to act fast.

The engineers manage this problem with just one weapon in their arsenal. Self-confidence. They just absolutely believe in themselves and their solutions. They train themselves to not think about the outside world or for that matter, outside the (engineering) problem in front of them. When they isolate themselves like this, they do wonders. But, this is the most difficult part; isolating yourself. But, that's why they take home millions of dollars every year. That's why they belong to a different planet. That's why they're called master minds.

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