“If you can believe in yourself and you are absolutely adamant you want to achieve something then you need to go and do it,” says Ellie Williams, Subassembly Coordinator at Alpine F1 Team.
Ellie Williams’ love for motorsport stemmed from being brought up in a motorsport-loving family. At the age of 11, she started racing and continued until the age of 16 where she then left home to go to Bicester College to do a BTEC Diploma.
Ellie has worked in the industry for a long time, working her way through the ranks to get onto the race team. Since starting to work within motorsport, she was labelled ‘one of them’. These messages have only made her drive to succeed even stronger.
“When I first started out, a lot of people were like she’s another one of those that have come from school, love the idea of being in F1 and a lot of people also said I wouldn’t last,” Ellie tells Females in Motorsport. “At the time, I was like what have I done? I have made a huge mistake. This is the worst thing ever.”
Ellie’s first job came about after she completed some work experience at the Force India Racing team as part of a university module, and they offered a job. From there she dropped out of university and progressed in the team before moving to Lotus. She has now completed a degree that she has done part-time alongside her job at Alpine F1 Team which is impressive.
Resilience and perseverance are qualities that she has had to stick to as a woman in a male-dominated world.
“Typically, when you’re new to somewhere and people don’t know you or don’t know anything about you, their instant reaction is that she's not going to be any good, she’s just going to be another one of those that wants to be in F1,” Ellie says.
“Until people get to know me and know that I am good at my job, I love doing my job and I’ll do it to 100% every time, that’s when you start earning respect.”
Working long hours can often be tiring, but she says the best part of her job is being respected for the hard work she puts in.
“It’s nice when you do a job and it helps a lot of people out, silly things like saying thanks for your help or that’s really appreciative, I think that side of things is what I like the most,” she says. “And then I try to go above and beyond to help people out and when people appreciate the work you do, that’s enough satisfaction for me.”
Talking about lessons being learnt along her journey she said that she didn’t believe in herself as much as she should have done, and so her advice to others is to do that and follow your dream.
“It takes a lot for me to be proud of what I achieve,” she says. “If you can believe in yourself and you are absolutely adamant you want to achieve something then you need to go and do it, and I think that is the biggest thing I have learnt.”
Moving away from home at 16 to a new place was daunting, but Ellie took every opportunity and has made incredible steps to where she is now.
“It was so scary moving away from home, people thought it was mad, you’re too young,” she says. “When I did leave home, my goal was to become one of those people that worked in the pitlane.
“I was really young and I didn’t really know what was out there at the time so I was taking every day as it came, and obviously I didn’t expect to get into composites.
“Looking back now, the composite side is the best side I have learnt, and even if I don’t work in F1 I can still take those skills on and do something else.”
The number of women in the motorsport world is still very low, despite more drivers getting involved and those on the trackside too. Ellie has been into schools to chat about her career and how it started, but she still feels that it isn’t pushed for girls to get into STEM subjects. So many are still unaware that they have the potential to be an engineer and be very successful, just like Ellie.
“Some women don’t even realise that going into engineering or motorsport is even an option,” she says. “It might not even cross their minds, or it will but they won’t do anything about it because they don’t realise that it is an option.
“If you’ve got any inkling to do it, then research it. Work experience is vital. If you can spend Saturdays at a local team just making tea and tidying up, it is a huge thing to do.
“Believe in yourself and know it is available. You don’t just have to do the generic things they encourage you to do at school; there is no harm in going out and trying because at least you can say you tried and did it.”
Women like Ellie inspire younger girls to get involved in the sport. She has shown that women can do it.
Opportunities are there, and it is an amazing feeling when you follow and achieve your dream.
Explore career opportunities at Alpine F1 team here.
Images are credited to Alpine F1 Team.