Nicky Hart, a Parts Coordinator at Alpine Formula 1 Race Support team, has always loved motorsport. At a young age, she moved to Mysercough College to study motorsport. She was hooked from that point. Nicky travelled to rallies and other races, getting experience under her belt which is key for the industry she once dreamed of being in.
Nicky’s aim had always been to work in F1; she started off at Myerscough college doing a BTEC in Motorsports and then continued to complete a degree in Motorsport Management and Logistics. From there she jumped straight into the industry and worked at MSA in the IMS events team branch (now known as Motorsport UK).
She wanted to progress so moved to Bicester to be in ‘motorsport valley’ and be in with a chance of getting a job somewhere in F1 in the near future. Hit fast forward and she landed a job at Renault Sport F1 Team, working as a Purchasing Support Administrator. Then the opportunity for the Race Support team came up and within a short space of time, Nicky has advanced within Alpine and is making her mark.
“It’s nice to take a step back to see this is where I have finally got to,” she tells Females in Motorsport. “I’m now working for an F1 team; and still relatively young, with progression.
“It’s also really great to be surrounded by other people who have a similar history, or completely different journey, especially with other women who have travelled through.”
When we spoke to Nicky in June, she had just completed her first event with the race support team at Silverstone in the UK.
“I ran my first event with the Race Support Team a couple of weeks ago and we’re back at Silverstone at the end of this week,” she says. “It’s amazing after all of this time to be attending F1 events and from starting little marshalling events when I was 16 to now after everyone saying, ‘are you going to work in F1’ to finding myself in this role.”
Her job is about juggling different matters and issues and ensuring that everything has all been prepared ready for an event. Combine that with running multiple cars and not having spares to hand, and sometimes it can get very chaotic!
“Day to day my role is to ensure that the race support team have all of the parts that they need to build the car for whatever the next event is and to ensure that everything is administrated,” she says. “I need to ensure that everything is serviced correctly, and check if there are any discrepancies on the system. It sounds simple enough, but the reality is that because we don’t run the current car, it isn’t.
“Sometimes our team is often made less of a priority as we aren't at the forefront of the factory. We run three different cars, the RS17, RS18, and the E20 (2012). The main factory is only managing the current year’s car - we’re managing three, which is quite a task!”
Alongside her role as Parts Coordinator, Nicky is also involved in the pit stops and other roles that the race support team has to do.
“When you see a car come into a pit stop, people assume that those 20 people are brought in to do that job and that job alone,” she says. “But then you find out those people are made up from all the different people in the team; including me, who aren’t just mechanics. I’m given the opportunity to be part of the pit stops and more which you’d never know otherwise.”
Stigmas still lie within the motorsport world, with some women still not being accepted, and stereotypes still being the underlying issue.
Talking about the difficulties of being a woman in the motorsport, she commented:
“There was one instance where I had to do a welding certificate, and I wasn’t very good at it. The welding tutor, who was a lovely person, said ‘look you’re never going to be able to weld, the same way I’m never going to be able to sew a dress’.”
Adding to this, she said: “I have always found it very interesting that when my partner told people he was doing a degree in motorsport, they were like oh that’s really cool, and when anyone asked me that question, they said ‘what made you do that?’. It was always this query, as a girl how have you found yourself here.”
Things, however, are changing, with more and more women getting into motorsport whether that is driving or a career, and are being treated with respect in the industry that has been male-dominated for many years.
“Having been around boys for so long I’m very used to the passive sexist comments,” she says. “On the whole, whenever it comes down to it, the guys I work with are always very quick to make me feel I’m accepted, welcomed, and equal. They have a lot of time and respect for me. But, you do get both.”
Achieving your dream can seem a daunting prospect, especially if it’s the pinnacle of motorsport like F1.
Nicky made many sacrifices when she was growing up to enable her to get to where she is now. Every step of the way was her not being afraid of long hours, hard work, and determination.
“You really can do anything if you work hard enough and put your mind to it,” she says. “There are so many things you know you could do, but you can’t do everything as there isn’t enough time. But, whatever you want to do, you can absolutely do it.
“You just have to be hardworking and be willing to compromise in some aspects of life; especially when you’re young. Realign your priorities.”
To be in with a chance of getting her dream job in an F1 team, Nicky made another sacrifice to move to Bicester to put herself in the right position. Initially, she wasn’t working in her dream job but it was the best place to be as within six months of moving, she had landed a job at Renault Sport F1 Team.
She said: “You have to put yourself in the position to succeed. Sometimes you have to be communicative. After an interview I always send an email to say thank you for this time, I think I would be great for this role, just to prove my enthusiasm, and keep me as a person fresh in their mind.
“Push hard and do everything in your power to get where you want to go. If you want something, don’t think so hard about the how, just get involved in whatever you can do and then work out the logistics after!”
Nicky is an inspiration to many others who are wanting to progress and succeed within the motorsport industry. Her drive and passion got her to where she is now, and that is hugely admirable.
You can explore the current opportunities at Renault here.
Alpine F1 pictures are thanks to Lydia Harper.