Formula 1 is a sport where viewers get a glimpse of rapid-paced cars, state-of-the-art technology, and Ferrari Trento showers from the comfort of their sofas every race weekend. But there’s also something vital that goes on behind-the-scenes, responsible for putting these cars on the circuit, which the audience never gets to see – factories. Employing thousands of people around the world, these beating heartbeats of the motorsport industry are the reason why F1 can go racing.
Females in Motorsport spoke with Elisabeth Lick, Junior Software Engineer at MoneyGram Haas F1 Team, to learn more about her role on the team, her passion for the sport, and why she’d love to see more women in motorsport.
A vital part of the software engineering team, Lick is based in the team’s factory in Banbury, England. When asked about how she feels about inspiring young women, she remains grounded and notes that because factory-based people are less visible to the public, it’s difficult to imagine that those jobs inspire young women who strive to pursue a career in Formula 1.
“I remember when I grew up, there were a lot of girls that were still hesitant to pursue STEM careers because maybe they thought they were not good enough or something,” she tells Females in Motorsport. “Because we don’t see the factory-based team members on TV or socials as much, people might oversee those jobs. But if there's at least one young software engineering girl, I would encourage you to go for it. Girls are capable of so much more than they think they are.”
As the youngest team on the grid that debuted only in 2016, MoneyGram Haas F1 Team is also the smallest F1 team on the grid, with approximately 200 employees including 9% women – only second to Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team, as per reported numbers on ESPN. In 2022, to celebrate International Women’s Day, the female taskforce of MoneyGram Haas F1 Team gathered to #BreakTheBias at Motorsport UK’s FIA Girls on Track event in Manchester, including various activities for local schoolgirls aged 11 to 13 years old, including being shown around a real F1 car.
A passionate motorsport fan, Lick joined the team in October 2021 as her first job after university with the goal to pursue her passion to work with an exciting F1 team.
“The team has a very strong relationship, especially because we're such a small team,” she says. “The biggest pro of working with a new and small team is that we don't have a strictly established hierarchy. When it comes to decision-making for implementing ideas, there’s a lot of conversation going on across different departments and different groups. And as a person starting out in the sport, or in general, it's great because you’re constantly learning from all the people across different departments, not only software but also about the other teams’ functions and all the processes.
“That's the great thing about a small team, you have such a wide spectrum, instead of being isolated in a group.”
Lick also loves to see the rewards of her work directly on track and something that keeps her going every day.
“Knowing that what you do at work translates to the performance on track in one way or another is incredible,” she says. “When you're a fan of the sport and know that what you do every day contributes to the team, it just gives you the extra bit of motivation to come to give your best because your hobby and your work blend together. So it's not like a task you have to do because you have to do it. No, it's because you want to do it.”
As an integral part of the team, Lick is deeply involved in the development of the car and is constantly in the weeds of testing new things. When asked about her day-to-day, Jessica Borrell, Senior Communications Manager at MoneyGram Haas F1 Team, chimes in to say, “Elisabeth is pretty much always busy.” To which, Lick nods her head and responds, “Oh, yes. We tested something during the race and we are now busy trying to implement it.”
“As software engineers, we have a lot of services and applications that are used by the race engineering department, and the other departments in there,” Lick says. “And we have to look after them. They're constantly improved with new features. Or if there's a bug, we have to fix the bugs.”
Depending on the season, Lick also has to adapt to different tasks for a normal week or a race week.
“During a normal week, I work on the software, collect requirements from the race engineering team, and then implement those feature requests, or I maintain the code for it to keep working,” she says. “During race events, I support them by monitoring the critical software that’s used trackside and making sure it's running. If there are some issues, then it's necessary for me to quickly develop a solution, so that the trackside engineers can carry out the work.”
With the growing popularity of the sport, Lick is very passionate about younger women gaining interest in F1 and joining the ranks of fans.
“This was actually part of my master thesis,” she says. “I wrote about female fans and motorsports consumer affairs, as they bring so much value to the sport not only for the teams but also for the whole fan community. And it's great to see the shift in the fan fandom that female fans bring.
“Female fans make the fandom more open and welcoming for new fans to join, which also helps the growth of women entering the sport as engineers because they can then start to dream about it.
“Just like I wished I could work for this sport.”
You can read more interviews with the women on MoneyGram Haas F1 Team on our website here.