Sophie Says: My brilliant week with Mercedes F1

Image Credit: Sophie Gill Motorsport

The most recent installment and update from the life of junior karting superstar, Sophie Gill, is probably her most exciting yet! Sophie has recently spent a fascinating week completing work experience with current F1 champions, Mercedes AMG F1. See what she had to say about this amazing experience!

“I knew my work experience had to be fuel filled, exciting and interesting; so I chose to visit the incredible Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Factory, somewhere I was extremely lucky to get a place at!

After traveling the long journey down to Brackley, checking into my hotel, I could barely sleep due to excitement at my once in a lifetime opportunity! I had a lovely breakfast (including tasty blueberry muffins!) and then was ready to enter the world of Mercedes’ outstanding F1 factory…

After getting dressed into the team’s smart work clothing and wearing a special champions t-shirt following their win at Monaco, I was ready to start my task for the week; making a model F1 steering wheel, assembling, painting and polishing it all myself.

Image Credit: Sophie Gill Motorsport

My steering wheel’s journey began in RP, where my first job was painting and sanding down my steering wheel parts and ensuring they were smooth with no bumps on them. The paint was applied first so I could easily see any bumps that needed smoothing. This was really good fun but also quite hard work! However, it was worth it- my steering wheel was now ready to go to the workshop…

Now I was in the workshop, it was time to make my plaque and prepare my carbon fibre base. I cut my metal for my plaque and filed it, until it fit into the plaque space and then polished it, until it was like a mirror! I then covered it in hot wax, to keep it in its newly polished condition, ready for it to be engraved using a laser machine.

Next, it was into the model shop where it was my steering wheel’s final steps. I sprayed the parts with a matt black graffiti can and assembled my steering wheel this involved using stickers to represent the screen and screwing the parts together. My steering wheel had moving paddles, model buttons and even display dials.

When I wasn’t making my steering wheel, I was in the aerodynamics department, helping out in the unbelievable wind tunnel.

Image Credit: Sophie Gill Motorsport

One thing that really stood out for me was the incredible team spirit! Everyone said hello and opened doors for each other. I was even allowed to attend the team debrief, following Mercedes’ win at Monaco, and celebrate with the team (although I wasn’t allowed to drink the champagne!). The winner’s t-shirts were also a nice touch! Despite being the youngest person to ever do work experience at Mercedes’ F1 factory, (I’m 14 and in Year 9- schools do work experience in Year 10 but I wanted a head start!) I immediately felt at home and welcomed.

After my steering wheel model was complete (and looking amazing!) it was time to say an emotional goodbye, to everyone who had made my work experience week brilliant. I had a fantastic time and I will definitely be back- Hopefully when I’m working there!”

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