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Oxford Brookes University Masters Student Is the Engineer of the Future

The Williams Racing Formula 1 team named Spanish race engineer David Crespo the 2023 Autosport Williams Engineer of the Future at the annual Autosport Awards banquet in London. The award is specific to motorsports engineering students studying in the U.K.

Crespo, who earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, is pursuing a Master of Sciences in Motorsport Engineering at Oxford Brookes University in the U.K. He is also a strategy engineer for the Nio 333 Formula E team in the electric car racing series. Last season, he was a race engineer for the Invicta Virtuosi Racing Formula 4 team.

As part of the award, Crespo will attend a 2024 Formula 1 test day with Williams Racing to shadow a race team engineer.  

Despite his work history and this accolade, Crespo recognizes that he is still an engineering student. “To win the 2023 Autosport Williams Engineer of the Future Award is the best reward I could get after years of effort,” he said. “However, I must keep working to one day be, not an engineer of the future, but an engineer of the present.”

Crespo edged out fellow finalist Riccardo Calzetta in a grueling, multi-step process meant to truly test the contenders. The award received applications from more than 200 young engineers, from whom Williams Racing selected 20 top candidates for an in-person assessment day at the team’s headquarters.

They were evaluated on teamwork, communication style, engineering understanding, and how well they worked with Williams staffers, including Michael Preston, who is now chief engineer of the Williams Esport team, and Williams Director of Esports, Steven English.

That day saw the list of candidates whittled to ten, who were judged by Williams Racing’s Head of Vehicle Performance Dave Robson, Williams’ simulator team leader Andrew Newton, Williams’ Head of Talent Acquisition Jamie Green, Carlin Racing team boss Trevor Carlin, 2022 winner Michael Preston, and Autosport’s Grand Prix Editor Alex Kalinauckas.

This group worked for four months on tasks in various racing simulation games, such as iRacing, the F1 Racing video game, and the Assetto Corsa Competiizione video game, using typical race engineering tools such as MoTec’s telemetry analysis software, Microsoft Excel-based race strategy tools, and OneTiming Live timing software. The group was culled to five, based on their knowledge, mentality, communication, and preparation skills. Some contenders went above and beyond their assignments, producing special engineering reports and augmenting the existing software with additional coding.

The survivors of this round returned to Williams headquarters for two days of work in the driver-in-the-loop simulator and tests of F1 race strategy. They were at least provided cheat sheets of information on the assignment and a resource pack so they could be prepared. The assignment was to prepare a pre-race presentation, as Williams Racing does each race weekend, plus a written assignment on race strategy, a computer-modeled race simulation, and an after-action review report. For the simulator work, candidates had to set up the car for maximum lap speed performance.

When this competition yielded the two finalists, Crespo and Calzetta, these contenders were subjected to a British Formula 3 race weekend with the Rodin Carlin racing team where they worked on driver performance-related items for the team’s three racers.

Finally, both finalists were assigned a 15-minute presentation, in which they had to explain their solution to a hypothetical motorsport-related engineering problem. They were judged based on their innovation, resilience, and technical understanding as displayed by their presentations.

In the end, there could only be one, and Crespo prevailed. “The assessment tests this year were the most demanding that we have ever put together,” observed Robson. “The final was extremely close with both candidates performing exceptionally well and the judging panel debated hard before finally selecting David as the winner. He has everything he needs for a successful career in motorsport.”

“David impressed the judges with his ability to take on board the lessons, his feedback from the entire process stood out and he is a very deserving winner of the Award,” explained Kalinauckas. “In particular, David’s communications skills and willingness to engage in innovative and fresh engineering challenges stood out. He surely has a bright career in motorsport engineering ahead of him.”

With that, the process begins anew for the 2024 Engineer of the Future. The application deadline will be in February.


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