Alexa Quintin: “My job has become an inherent part of my DNA”
Alexa Quintin is the Head of Media and Communications for FIA Formula 2 and FIA Formula 3, and she travels to each race weekend when the F1 feeder series are competing. She grew up surrounded by motorsport as her father was a racing driver, however, all she knew was Formula 1, and she never considered this as a potential career pathway.
Initially, Alexa wanted to work in the television and production industry. She studied Communications at EFAP, a private school in France and, through that, she spent a year abroad in New York working in television. However, after finishing her studies, Alexa realised that the TV environment wasn’t for her, so she went back to work in public relations and communications.
She worked with a small PR agency, and through them, she contacted Prost Grand Prix for a specific project. A short while later, although not for the same project, Alexa was given a role in marketing and communications for Prost Design to help develop the Prost and Alain Prost brands. She worked there for eighteen months before the company sadly collapsed.
“I made a great contact there with Patrizia Spinelli,” Alexa tells Females in Motorsport. “She was the Head of Comms for Prost Grand Prix.”
Patrizia acted as Alexa’s mentor even after the collapse and it was through her that Alexa was given the opportunity to work with Renault in 2002. At first, she wasn’t completely integrated with the Formula 1 team, but she shortly moved to build communications around the Renault Driver Development Programme.
“That’s how I started - I worked hard, but I met the right person who actually helped me to move along and get deeper into motorsport,” she says. “I fell in love with motorsport because, with that role, I started going to the races and I was in contact with the young drivers and multiple teams.
“I was based in Viry-Chatillon, and I saw the passion that the people designing and producing the Renault engines had, and it’s through that passion that I became passionate.
“When I became really involved with the driver development programme, I could touch the drivers’ passion and see where they were coming from, how hard they were working, and the environment with all the pressure. That gave me a completely different view and this is when I really started to love the industry.”
Alexa has been the Head of Media and Communications at FIA Formula 2 and FIA Formula 3 since 2008 and her work comes very naturally to her.
In her role, she ensures the positive image and visibility of both Championships worldwide, to give people the knowledge of F2 and F3, so that they can talk about it and watch it with a positive outlook, all whilst assisting the growth of the feeder series’.
She works on raising driver profiles, so that if and when a driver makes the move to Formula 1, people know the driver, but also know that they are prepared for the pinnacle of motorsport.
“You know that a driver who comes from the FIA pyramid is ready for F1,” Alexa says. “People get excited to see how well they’re going to perform in that.”
A typical day at a race weekend has changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before masks and social distancing were part of paddock life, F2 and F3 drivers partook in activities in the fan zone and the drivers’ parade. All of that was forced to change in the 2020 season, and in 2021 F2 and F3 ran on different weekends.
However, a race day in the life of Alexa Quintin is very busy, and non-stop.
At the start of the day, ahead of either F2 or F3 races, it’s all about building hype around the drivers and the day’s events. That includes going through the paddock to take photos and videos of drivers warming up, or waving hello to the camera. Alexa used to do that herself, but now, her team has grown.
The social media team is in charge of uploading posts that build expectations ahead of a session. Meanwhile, Alexa heads out to the pitlane or onto the grid.
“I have to ensure that no one is live-streaming on the grid, which happens every time,” she laughs. “I’m the livestream police.”
During the races, Alexa was previously responsible for uploading live commentary from the pit wall, which was not always an easy task because the internet might drop, or the laptop might die. Now, with a bigger media team, Alexa overlooks the live commentary on the relevant website, or live Twitter updates throughout the race to ensure everything runs smoothly.
“If there is an incident on track, I enquire details as to what happened and if everything is fine so I can help whoever is giving live commentary or live tweeting to convey the right tone.”
Towards the end of the race, Alexa heads to Parc Fermé to allow in everyone who needs access – like photographers, or those recording footage for the F2 documentary Chasing the Dream – has access, whilst ensuring any photographers outside of Parc Fermé have good visibility. Then, attention turns to the podium. She picks up someone from the winning team to receive the team trophy.
“Behind the podium, I check that the drivers have their suits back on properly,” Alexa says. “Then, it’s about taking quotes from the drivers and ensuring they are on time for the press conference.
“I get that content and I send it to our writer who’s doing the press report. After the press conference, I take the drivers back to the paddock, and then start conducting filmed interviews for the international broadcast, but also for our TV right holders who have been unable to access our paddock since the start of the pandemic. Those interviews are done in English, but also in multiple languages to cover our Right holders’ needs.”
Once the interviews are over, Alexa sits behind her laptop to respond to any questions from teams, partners, or the media. When needed, she approves what is posted on-line, and she also liaise with the Stewards’ secretary about any penalties which may impact race results.
“You can have a good three hours of work after a race,” she says. “I want everyone in my team to know how to do every job, so if one person is busy, they can pick up the other person’s task. It’s important that everything keeps running.”
There’s usually some time to watch Formula 1 Qualifying from Q2 onwards, but as soon as it finishes, the cycle starts again for the next junior series race. And, when the day is over, if Alexa and her team are lucky, they can leave at around 10:30-11pm.
“Everyone is a hard worker, from the press officer, content editor, graphic designer, and the social media team - everyone is working so hard, around the clock, and no one is slacking,” Alexa says proudly. “Everyone is giving everything that they’ve got to ensure that we give out any information as quickly and as safely as possible.”
As a mother, Alexa has to find the balance between work life and home life, which can be difficult considering she travels all over the globe throughout a race season.
“My job really has become an inherent part of my DNA,” Alexa says. “It makes me happy. I can show my daughter that when you work hard, you get a job that you love and you do what you love. It’s a good way to inspire her.”
Technology has become more important in everyone’s lives throughout the COVID pandemic, but for Alexa, it maintains the link between her and her daughter.
“When I call her, I show her the cars sleeping,” Alexa says. “I’ve given her one of my old passes, so when she calls me, she puts the pass on so she can enter the paddock.”
However, when Alexa is at home in France, she doesn’t work from an office. It’s easy to pick her work up later on in the evening, and she does exactly that once she’s spent valuable time with her family.
“You have to find the balance of doing things,” she says. “So when I’m here, I’m one hundred percent here, and when I’m away, it’s about keeping the link.”
Alexa’s admiration for her drivers comes in different shapes and forms. Being a racing driver is not just about getting in the car and racing, it’s about communication and health; it’s something physical and psychological.
Each driver has worked hard to get to their current position, and the story of their journeys forges a relationship with fans, followers and people they work with. For Alexa, appreciating each of these aspects is a hugely important part of the job.
“There are drivers who have made a difference in my life,” Alexa says. “I really respect what they’re doing and all of the efforts they’re putting into their job.
“This is their life, their career, their entire everything since they were kids.”
When drivers graduate from F2 and make the move to Formula 1, Alexa and the entire team watch on with pride.
“When we’re watching F1 Qualifying, we will cheer louder for those who have come from F2 and F3,” Alexa says. “We want them to do well, and it’s also fun to say ‘I know him!’”
She highlights that finding women in communications is more common than finding men in the role. Of course, that’s not to say that every person working in communications is a woman. Although, it’s different when it comes to female racing drivers, who have to work harder to prove themselves.
As an inspirational female working in motorsport, Alexa provides some great advice for anyone wanting to work in the industry.
“Go for what you want to do, be the best and get the correct skills,” she says. “Keep on improving every day and be the best version of yourself. That’s all you can be, because then you will have no regrets.”
Yet, you might be the best version of yourself and it still won’t be enough, because sometimes it’s not all about the skills. It’s about the right timing, a bit like her role with Prost Design.
“As a racing driver, you don’t go directly from karting to Formula 2,” she says. “You have to follow the pyramid and gain experience. Your aim is Formula 1. It’s exactly the same thing for any job.
“You need to grow, improve, learn and work towards one goal. Have that goal, go for it, but be the best version of yourself when you get to that goal so you have zero regrets.”
All images are credited to Joe Portlock.