How Do Formula 1 Teams Work?

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The majority of team sports worldwide have a large group of people running the actual sports team from behind the scenes. Formula 1 teams work the same. Although there are only two drivers in each racing team, there can be up to 1200 employees on a single team working behind the scenes. So, how do Formula 1 teams work?

There are multiple layers of people working behind the scenes in a Formula 1 team. The pyramid consists of racers, engineers, cleaning staff, and everything in between. Bigger teams have an average of roughly 550 team members and up to 200 in a small team.

Every single member of the team has an important role, and no two people in the team will do the same job. Although there could be 100 mechanics, each of them has an independent role designed to help the team win as much as possible. So, take a seat and learn how Formula 1 teams work.

What Roles Are There Inside A Formula 1 Team?

There is quite a substantial amount of roles inside a Formula 1 team. Of course, there are the people that will be shown on camera at the races, but there will be hundreds more behind the scenes that you will never see. Each person is designed to do a particular job to get the whole team working smoothly like a train.

There are teams within Formula 1 that are smaller than other teams. For example, a team like Ferrari are pretty large and produce all their racing parts themselves, but Haas is a much smaller team and instead buys their engines from Ferrari. This is the same for power units and other racing parts across specific teams. Therefore, a team like Haas will be smaller than a team like Ferrari because the Ferrari team needs more labour to produce what they want.

No matter how small or big, each team will have a Team Principal. There will also be a few managers of different divisions in each team, assistants to the managers and principal, multiple race engineers, a couple of R&D (research and development) engineers, designers for cars and other items, aerodynamicists, engineers that are required in different engineering roles, mechanics for the races, production workers as well as cleaning staff and groundworkers etc.

Each role is given a particular job to do. For example, suppose there are 105 aerodynamicists in a team (which is possible). In that case, each one will be tasked with figuring out something about aerodynamics that will aid the car’s performance. Although the team managers may ask some to work on a specific project as a team, not all 105 of the staff will be doing the same job.

The amount of people in each position, like upwards of 110 designers in a big team, puts how much work goes into an F1 team into perspective. It is not just a couple of people building a car and two guys racing them; it is a large team of people trying to get the team to work as best and efficiently as possible.

What Does Each Role In An F1 Team Entail?

The cars in Formula 1 are (obviously) the most crucial part of the team. The car is the thing that 90% of the people inside a Formula 1 team are working on. No matter how good a driver in an F1 team is, if their car is not better than all the other racing cars, they will not win anything. 

Every different role in a Formula 1 team plays an integral part in getting the car to perform the best it can. For example, a team like Ferrari will have a few people working on making the best engine possible, while that is not necessary for a team like Haas as they will just buy the engines from Ferrari. So without further ado, this is what each role in a Formula 1 team entails:

Team Principal

Essentially, the team principal is the ‘big boss’ of the entire Formula 1 team. This person can make any decision regarding the team, hire or fire anybody, and is the person who runs the whole process within a Formula 1 team.

The team principal is in charge of the running of the team. They decide which person will work in which role and also what each position must do. When a Formula 1 team wins a championship, the team principal gets a lot of recognition for the win, and rightfully so. It is often the Formula 1 team that works together as a unit the best that wins the championship, or at least a lot of races during a season.

Each team principal from all the different teams in Formula 1 can also vote on the new rules and regulations that the FIA wishes to impose. The FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) is a governing body for auto-racing worldwide, especially in Formula 1.

Team Managers

In both small and big teams, there is only one team principal. There would probably be too much conflict of interest if there were more than one team principal. However, there is more than one team manager in both small and big teams. Big teams average around 20 team managers, and small teams average approximately ten team managers per team.

The team managers all have different roles within a Formula 1 team. There will be a ‘general’ manager in charge of all the different manager roles, but each sector within an F1 team will have a manager. This is to ensure that each department or sector runs smoothly. So, for example, the general manager and the team principal can talk to each department’s manager instead of talking to hundreds of people altogether.

For example, there will be a manager for the designing team, a manager for the aerodynamicists, a manager for the engineers, etc. If there is a good level of communication between the team principal and a department’s manager, and the same for a department’s manager and their department, the team is likely to be very efficient and work well together.


This role is pretty self-explanatory. The assistants in a Formula 1 team come in many different forms. The assistant to the team principal will have a relatively high level of clearance within an F1 team. However, the receptionist at the team’s headquarters is also classified as an assistant, but they will have a relatively low level of clearance within the team.

It is likely that the team managers and team principal will all have assistants. The assistants are in charge of relaying messages, sorting out calendars, setting up meetings, and other tasks that the team manager asks them to do. There are roughly ten assistants in a big team and around five in a small team.

Race Engineers

The role of the race engineer is one of the most important in the whole Formula 1 team. The race engineering team also has to be one of the most well-oiled departments within each Formula 1 team. These people are responsible for what happens on the track before and during each race, including qualifiers and practice races.

During races, the race engineers will have access to the data that the racing car for the team produces. They will be able to remotely analyze what is working and not working in the Formula 1 car and get it to run as smoothly as possible during the race. For example, often, you will hear a driver say that something like his brakes are not working correctly, and the race engineers will be able to analyze what is going wrong with the brakes remotely.

Outside of races, the race engineers will do the same thing but in a more intensive way that allows them to research and enhance the performance of the car and the racer as much as possible prior to the next race. They ensure everything is working as it should before and during a race.

Research And Development Engineers

These engineers are similar to the race engineers, except they will not be at races and telling the drivers what to do or controlling aspects of the car. Instead, they will do the same type of analysis of the car’s performance after races and practice runs, but in a more immersive way to try and find ways to improve the vehicle.

There are roughly ten race engineers and 15 R&D engineers in a big Formula 1 team. Both sets of engineers have essential jobs and are vital to the performance of the vehicles on race days. R&D engineers will do a highly in-depth analysis of the cars’ performance for an F1 team and develop ways to improve the performance. The improvements and changes they introduce come in all shapes and sizes that require other team employees’ help to implement.

Specified Engineers

These engineers are plenty in both big and small teams but are not categorized in a single large group like the race and R&D engineers are. Instead, these engineers will work in separate groups, specializing in more minor aspects of the car and its performance.

These engineers will focus more on developing and testing software for the car and for the team to use, as well as other types of testing that do not directly affect the car’s performance. For example, a mistake from a race engineer can cost a vehicle a couple of seconds in a race, but an error from one of the specified engineers probably will not cost the car any time or speed etc.

Race Mechanics

These are the people you see when the Formula 1 cars go into the pitstop during a race. Although their job is less technical than that of a race and development engineer, the race mechanic team has to be the most well-drilled team within an F1 team.

They have to be well drilled to get all four wheels off and a new set of wheels on in the quickest time possible. They must also be prepared for emergencies, such as a change in wings on the car being needed. The race mechanics are one of the most critical departments in any F1 team.


The designers have a different job from what you assume when you hear the word ‘designers.’ Although they may be a small group of designers who work on logos and the design of the overalls, they have a much more complex job. There are roughly 110 designers on average in a big F1 team and approximately 40 in a more minor team.

This number says a lot about the job that they have to do. The designers are responsible for the look of the car. The way the Formula 1 car looks directly correlates to how the car performs. If a Formula 1 race car looked like an SUV but had the exact engine specifications as the F1 cars do, it would not be as fast as the F1 car.

The designers take the developments and recommendations that the race engineers, R&D engineers, and aerodynamicists have come up with and bring them to the designers. They then take these recommendations and design the exterior of the car and the engine and other equipment like the electronics so that the designers can implement the new recommendations without sacrificing any vehicle’s performance because of the new look.

Editorial credit: cristiano barni / Shutterstock.com

What Else Goes Into An F1 Team’s Everyday Life?

During the season, it is not just the roles are mentioned above that have to be completed. There is much more work that has to be done by the F1 team on a day-to-day basis that one might not think about when trying to picture what an F1 team does daily.

The most laborious process for F1 teams is to transport their equipment between countries in a season. This is very hard because they have to transport expensive and fragile equipment and hundreds of people every week. In addition, the employees that travel with the team to each location have tough jobs because they are always moving.


The life of a Formula 1 team employee, though rewarding, is not easy. No employee has an easy role, and they are constantly working around the clock, whether it is during the Formula 1 season or in the off-season. The team is always trying to make sure that the cars are performing to the best of their abilities week in week out. There is also a lot of research and development into improving the car as much as possible.

Formula 1 teams must work smoothly and with rhythm. If they work smoothly, then every department can work efficiently with every other department and try to provide the best results possible for the team on race weekends and throughout each season.







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