Claire Dubbelman has been working in the motorsport field for 14 years now but has shown an interest in the sport since she was just four-years-old. Starting her career as a Sport Coordinator and Project Manager for the Formula Renault North European Championship (NEC) at the age of 21, she now works as a Championship Manager for the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) where she has been working since 2017.
Claire came into contact with motorsport when she was very young. Her father was working as a spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz in the Netherlands and has a long track record in the sport.
After being so close to cars throughout her life, Claire decided to turn this passion into a career when she finished her degree at the age of 21.
“I thought: if I have to work until I’m 65, then I’d better find something I really like,” she tells Females in Motorsport.
She started her career journey in motorsport for the NEC where she took on many different roles: press releases writing, finances, writing regulations and so much more.
“I had 20 different jobs at the same time, but I learned so much and that actually helps me a lot to this day,” she says.
The arrival of the European Formula 3 Championship meant the FIA started managing Championships themselves which prompted them to hire a number of people and Claire was one of them.
Since her job at Formula Renault, she has worked for several federations, race teams and drivers which gave her great insight into the different roles and perspectives that are present in motorsport. This insight was of interest to the FIA.
“When I applied for the Championships Manager job, it didn’t say which category it would be for,” she says. “Then it turned out when I arrived at the office in Geneva that they were recruiting for two positions: one for F3 and one for the World Endurance Championship. As my background is mainly single-seaters, Formula 3 was a better fit for me.”
Over time, Claire’s job as a Championship Manager for the FIA has been expanded as more championships were added to her responsibilities.
“The Formula 4 championships were added in 2018,” she says. “In 2019, Formula 2 was added to my list and somewhere in between the international series, for example, W Series were added. I’m now supervising 26 championships which is a lot.”
Managing those championships seems like a major task, but Claire admits that most of her time is taken up by F2 and F3.
“About 70% of the work I do is related to F2 and F3,” she explains. “That’s because together with the Promoter we write the regulations. Also, we put together the team of officials working that weekend ourselves."
In the office, she is assisted by two great women.
“This year Diana joined, who helps me with the F4 and regional championships," she says. "We don’t organise those ourselves as we do with Formula 2 and 3, but we support the federations, organizers and promoters around the world to do the best job possible.
“The international series like W Series are different as they do not use the FIA framework. That means that our work differs from championship to championship. Some of them just want to call us when they have an issue and others appreciate it if we help them throughout the process.”
Claire's role as a Championship Manager can be varied, but this is something she enjoys immensely.
“It’s my job to make an F2 and F3 weekend run as smoothly as possible. On those weekends, which are always together with Formula 1, I’m responsible for the whole FIA team which means the race director, assistant race director, stewards, and technical people.
Some weekends are easier than others - the number of crashes that happen or the number of track limits that need to be monitored play a part.
“Everything that happens on track is the responsibility of the race director,” she says. “We just need to make sure that’s the only thing the race director has to deal with.
“In race control, we don’t decide who’s guilty. We report to the stewards, who will investigate if anyone has made a mistake and if so if they deserve a penalty for it.”
When a crash does occur during a race weekend, several processes happen at the same time. In this, Claire is the one that feeds information into the system so that everything else reacts to it.
The FIA has a clear task as soon as an incident happens: to make it as safe as possible as quickly as possible.