Meet the woman helping the Mercedes-AMG F1 team reach new speeds, and all from behind the scenes
When 25 year-old chemical engineering Graduate, Stephanie Travers, applied to be a PETRONAS Trackside Fluid Engineer last summer, there was no anticipating just how quickly her life would change.
Now six months into her role, Stephanie travels the world with Formula 1, and plays a pivotal role in helping the PETRONAS team power Mercedes to its greatest run of success in the F1 era thus far.
We sat down with Formula 1’s freshest member to peek behind the veil of champagne showers and fast cars, and get an insight into what goes on underneath the bonnet…
What initially attracted you to motorsports?
‘I had cousins who did Go-Karting and worked within racing, so I was very into the motorsport industry from a young age. I really enjoyed learning about engines, how cars are put together and just seeing what happens when a car runs. I then went on to study chemical engineering at university.’
Tell me a little bit about the PETRONAS application process
‘I was working as an engineer on a chemical plant when I came across the application for the fluid engineer role. There were 7,000 other applicants, and I went through a gruelling five-part selection process. I was picked to be in the final three, which involved a timed race through Kuala Lumpur city centre to find the CEO of PETRONAS and have one final interview with him – and then I got the job!’
What was your reaction after finding out you were the latest addition to the Formula 1 team?
‘When they told me I was super shocked – I kept asking them, ‘are you sure it’s me?’ The first thing I did was call my parents and tell them, because they were so supportive throughout the whole process and pushed me through school to help me to achieve my best.’
What does a typical race season look like for you?
‘In just one season, our team will travel to 21 different countries. PETRONAS has a trackside lab that travels with Mercedes to every race, so I’ve visited places like Australia, Bahrain and China so far. Inside the lab, I analyse the fuel, engine oil and functional fluids to monitor the wear within each car’s engine and look out for any potential problems with the car.’
How have you found your experience with Formula 1 so far?
I’ve enjoyed putting everything I’ve learnt at university into practice, and just connecting with everyone within the team. Everyone’s been really friendly and helpful. It’s made settling in a lot easier, especially when you’re away from home for so much of the year.’
How does it feel to be a woman working in a male-dominated industry?
‘I was one of five girls on my chemical engineering course, so for me, it doesn’t feel any different because I’m used to being in a male-dominated environment. This job has always been something that I’ve always aspired to do, so I wasn’t going to let anything deter me away from it.’
What’s next for you?
‘Completing an MBA has always been a dream of mine, so I might go back to university one day. For now, I’m really enjoying Formula 1. I’m only in my first six months so I’m just taking it in its stride – there’s still a lot more to learn.’
PETRONAS have just announced a global search for a Trackside Fluid Engineer to provide onsite technical support for Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Motorsport in the 2020 FIA F1 World Championship. To apply, visit PETRONAS Lubricants International LinkedIn page. The search is open until 25 September 2019.