Formula 1 is all about finding that extra edge to be the very best of the best – and Mercedes’ Sam Barnett has done just that.
Motorsport-mad Sam’s dreams came true when he joined F1 power unit manufacturer Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) as an apprentice in 2009, aged 16.
In his time at the team’s Northamptonshire factory, in Brixworth, he’s completed his apprenticeship and worked his way up to become a CNC Program Setter Operator.
But, in order to fulfil his ambition of reaching the very top of his game, Sam decided he would need to further his education.
His employers encouraged him to enrol on the BSc Engineering degree course at the University of Northampton – and Sam seized the opportunity, graduating with a first class honours degree in 2015.
“My degree has allowed me the opportunity to show I am capable of developing myself, and thinking outside of the box,” said Sam.
“Having a first class engineering degree, and years of manufacturing experience, means I can steer my career down the path I’d like to follow. I have ambitions to move up to become a manufacturing engineer with HPP, and my degree will help to open up doors for me.”
The will to succeed is crucial for those working in Formula 1, and Sam’s winning attitude saw him get the very best out of his time at the University.
“I always want to improve, I’m not happy to sit back because I am very competitive, I said to myself that I have to be the best and only a first would do,” said Sam.
“It’s the same approach we take at HPP, and that seems to be working as we have earned two Drivers’ World Championships and two Constructors’ Championships in the past two seasons.
“HPP employs the best people in the world, and it’s a highly pressurised environment – in a good way – to work in. There’s so much responsibility to make the best power units, because the team’s reputation, and the wider reputation of the global Mercedes brand, is at stake every time we race. We are not expected to make mistakes, we need to be right every time, and that’s something that we all thrive on.”
Plenty of plaudits have come the way of Mercedes over the past two years, in particular for World Champion driver, Lewis Hamilton, and his team-mate Nico Rosberg.
“The spotlight will always be on Lewis and Nico, and those who you see on the television working in the garage at the races,” said Sam.
“But Mercedes is a much bigger team than the one you see, and we are proving we are the best in the sport by winning World Championships.
“The team at Brixworth and Brackley, are kept involved, with the drivers bringing the trophies in to show us”
With his career well on track, Sam has some sound advice for undergraduates at the University: “Be determined to focus your development, as your career is driven by the commitment and effort you put in to it.”