Engineer: I still love Formula 1 despite losing my job

20/11/14

Formula One garage

Lewis Hamilton could win his second Formula 1 world title in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

But while the teams get ready for the season-ending race, the sport has choked off the track.

Marussia went out of business earlier this month and Caterham's future is in doubt after going into administration.

More than 400 people have been made redundant at the two teams.

Newsbeat went to meet one of them.

Formula 1 engineers change the wheels on a car

It's rare to hear from someone who works inside one of the garages.

The former engineer asked us not to use his name or give specific details about his previous job for fear of jeopardising future career opportunities.

Formula 1 teams are tight-knit - everyone knows everyone.

He's currently studying motorsport engineering in his final year at university but wanted to get across the impact the sport's recent job losses could have on his career.

"I've loved Formula 1 since I was a little boy," he explained.

"I wanted to be an engineer, I saw the opportunities to be an engineer".

But those opportunities are drying up.

A man removes the Union flag at Caterham's headquarters
Image caption Work continues at Caterham's headquarters as freight costs for Abu Dhabi are waived by F1 bosses
A Marussia team sign is covered up outside their headquarters
Image caption A team sign is covered up at Marussia's headquarters

Caterham went into administration in October and made more than 200 staff redundant last weekend.

There are huge amounts of money involved in the sport but some areas are in a vulnerable state.

About 200 people lost positions at Marussia after they folded completely at the start of November.

"I think it is a good learning curve what I'm going through at the moment," said the man we went to meet.

"Hopefully I won't ever get into a situation like this again and I imagine there're a lot of people reconsidering being in Formula 1."

Emergency crews tend to Marussia's Jules Bianchi after a serious crash at the Japanese grand prix earlier this year
Image caption Marussia's Jules Bianchi was seriously injured after a crash at the Japanese grand prix earlier this year

Despite missing the United States and Brazil grand prix, Caterham will make the grid in Abu Dhabi after raising money through a crowd funding scheme.

Administrators hope to find a buyer for the team there too.

The way forward is very easy - don't spend as much. We already give these teams collectively $900m (£576m)
Bernie Ecclestone
F1 boss

"It is tough for everybody involved," explained the former engineer.

"The bigger teams are being told to spend less and give more to the smaller teams.

"I'm nervous in the sense that what I had originally has gone and now I'm in the same boat as everyone else."

He says the mood amongst students on his university course had changed considerably in recent weeks.

"Everybody's a little bit dubious as to what's happening. It may impact on graduates around the world who want to get into Formula 1 because there's less space available."

He went on to explain the smaller teams are essential in helping create the drivers and engineers of the future.

"Smaller teams have smaller resources. They don't have as much money to have people so you learn your trade when you're working in a situation like that where you have so many tasks to do.

"I just love Formula 1 and I want to be there no matter what."

How did it get like this?

Essentially this is about teams mismanaging their finances.

The likes of Caterham and Marussia entered Formula 1 under the impression a spending cap would be placed on teams in a bid to level the playing field and cut costs.

The optional cap has yet to materialise though allowing teams like Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull to dominate.

The rising cost of an engine hasn't helped finances either.

According to the BBC chief F1 analyst Eddie Jordan they were about £5m each last year but have gone up to £15m this season with the introduction of new turbo hybrid engines.

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone talking to reporters
Image caption F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is being urged to meet team directors this weekend

So what will happen next season?

Caterham are hopeful of making the grid but will have to secure that new buyer first.

There's even talk Marussia, under a new name of Manor F1, could start the first race of 2015 in March.

The sport's smaller teams want to meet boss Bernie Ecclestone in Abu Dhabi this weekend to discuss how revenues will be distributed going forward.

A letter, sent on behalf of Sauber, Lotus and Force India, requested "a more equitable distribution" of Formula 1's revenues to ensure "a sustainable future".

That's something Bernie Ecclestone has previously insisted would not be happening.

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