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01 Mar 2021

Student talent a focus at Autosport International Connect

  • Autosport International Connect to support motorsport education 
  • UK’s leading motorsport educators join Finding New Talent panel
  • Virtual trade show on 10-11 March

Autosport International (ASI) Connect will bring together motorsport industry leaders for a series of debates and interviews about the future of the sport on 10-11 March. Key figures from the worlds of Formula 1, rallying, touring car racing and grassroots motorsport will be involved in the two-day event and one of the main focus areas will be how the motorsport industry finds and supports the talent of tomorrow.

The ‘Finding New Talent’ forum will bring together some of the UK’s leading motorsport engineering educational establishments for a thought-provoking debate on how to grow the talent pipeline into the industry. Universities and colleges are a vital element of research and development in motorsport. 

British institutions are some of the most important, with over 4,000 companies employing over 41,000 people and a particular focus on R&D, with some firms spending more than 25 percent of their annual turnover on development.* The fact that 8 of 10 Formula 1 teams are based in the UK, including the top five in the 2020 World Championship, is just the visible peak of a diverse industry. ASI Connect’s ‘finding new talent’ forum will look at what the industry needs to do to keep fueling this growth. 

ASI Connect will feature many Formula 1 personalities. Among them is Professor Willem Toet, former Head of Aerodynamics at the Benetton, Ferrari & Sauber F1 teams. Toet’s work has helped World Champions such as Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button win races and now he is putting his knowledge back into the sport by working with the University of Bolton. 

He agrees that motorsport provides a great opportunity for engineering talent, but also identifies a need for motorsport to further encourage diversity: “The motorsport and automotive industries have long focused on innovation and advanced ways of thinking but have often done so in a narrow way. I see a great opportunity for discovering new talent by having real innovation through diversity of every sort. It is unlikely you will cover all problem-solving approaches if you have a mono-culture of thought by picking people who have gone to the best three universities on a personal list in some recruiter’s head. The trick is to find people that complement one another who are willing to work together to find the best overall solution to a problem that you can find now.”
One college that has truly embraced the lockdown is the National Motorsport Academy with its online learning focus. Programme Leader Gen Gordon believes that flexible learning options will attract new talent: “The pandemic has brought uncertainty for both national and international students wanting to join UK university courses. We’ve responded to this by expanding our online learning portfolio to include the world's first Masters in Business of Motorsport alongside our well-established engineering courses. The professional world is beginning to accept online and remote working and learning as the new normal; it's great to be the first to offer the next stage in motorsport education from a different perspective on a trusted and proven platform for education.”

With graduates in every Formula 1 team, Oxford Brookes University has established itself as one of the country’s key sources of motorsport talent. Gordana Collier, Head of School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, is passionate about increasing exposure and engagement with younger audiences and breaking down gender barriers. “Young people are not as excited about motorsport as in the past, so they need different exposure to it,” she says. 

“Students need the right environment and access to the relevant hands-on activities, facilities and mentoring. We need to break down perceptions related to motorsport engineering. Except for recent Mercedes F1 posts on social media, almost all opportunities and publicity for females are in marketing and driving; it is rarely ever about women in technology.” 

One of the leading universities focusing on motorsport engineering is Cranfield. Its Motorsport and Automotive Programme Director Clive Temple says this is an exciting time for engineers to enter the sport: "Recognising that motorsport is much broader than Formula 1, engineering students will appreciate that technology and business model disruption offers a broad canvas for their ideas to take shape. Motorsport is not for day-dreamers. Nobody ever won a race from the comfort of their armchair.”

All four of these leading voices in motorsport education will be among the sector leaders speaking at ASI Connect. Other themes that will be debated during the two-day online-only event include the future power of motorsport, what’s next for historic racing and the incredible focus given to safety by the motorsport industry. 

*Motorsport Industry Association figures



About ASI Connect

The online-only event will take place on 10-11 March 2021. Invitations have been sent to thousands of high-level, industry leaders who normally attend the live Autosport International show, giving them the opportunity to network with virtual exhibitors, participate in debates on the future of the sport and share knowledge at speeches and panel discussions during the two-day event. The ‘virtual attendees’ will be able book appointments and build relationships through the bespoke ASI Connect mobile and desktop app. 

Attendees will also receive a six-month Autosport+ subscription when they register.  
Exhibitors can book their virtual stand at ASI Connect and discuss sponsorship opportunities with our sales team by contacting or through our website. Trade registration is now open.