A day in the life of Richard Farley

A day in the life of Richard Farley
Deputy Principal Aerodynamicist at Renault F1 Team

What’s your job responsibility?
I work in the Aero Operations Group of the Aerodynamics department. We are continually trying to improve the quality of the data we receive from the wind tunnel, and ensure we keep on top of the maintenance of the facility itself. I spend a lot of time analysing data from the wind tunnel – working to improve its accuracy and our understanding of it. Our ultimate aim is to have one of the best wind tunnels in Formula 1!

What does that involve, what do you do, and who do you work with?
Our department has various sub-sections, which work together to achieve our shared goal of improving the Aero performance of our car. We have aerodynamicists, designers, manufacturing, maintenance teams and software groups. In my role I often act as a liaison between the different groups and departments, to deliver new technology to the wind tunnel. I am also responsible for compiling the data reports for the wind tunnel which are then sent to the FIA, to ensure we’re compliant with the F1 regulations.

Describe a typical day in your job?
We often start each day with a planning meeting in the morning to review what has happened in the wind tunnel in the last 24 hours, and what’s planned for the day ahead. We also plan further ahead for any wind tunnel model swaps, or other engineering work required.
There are sometimes problems to solve, caused by technical issues that arise from normal running in the wind tunnel. Once planning is complete and any wind tunnel issues are solved, we then focus on our ongoing longer-term projects. As a group we also take time to teach fellow team members how to get the most out of the wind tunnel, and any other new engineering technology we have introduced.

How did you get the job?
I arrived here in 2006 as a fresh university graduate, joining the team as a Development Aerodynamicist. I worked on various areas of the car for over 10 years, helping to understand and develop the aerodynamic performance of the race car. I then moved into my current Aero Operations role around 3 years ago, tempted by the variety and the impact it offered.

What is your background and why did you take this job?
I’ve been following F1 since I was around 10 years old, and had a keen interest in Aerodynamics at university, so it was a dream to get the job at Renault F1. I started on a Tuesday mid-way through the 2006 season, and the following week the factory was celebrating Fernando Alonso’s win at the 2006 Spanish GP! I knew then that this was going to be a lot of fun.

What is your most memorable moment…?
The victories we had in 2006 in my first year were great, but as a recent graduate I was only really just settling into the team here at Enstone. After various highs and lows in the years that followed, I think my favourite moment was when Kimi Raikkonen won the 2012 Abu Dhabi GP, after more than four years without a win for the team. That was something very special.

And the worst part of your job…?
Because our wind tunnel runs 24 hours a day during the week, we sometimes experience technical issues late at night. We have an aerodynamicist on the night shift, and a wind tunnel support engineer on call, but sometimes I too receive phone calls in the middle of the night to help get the tunnel back up and running.

The best part of your job then…
I love problem solving, so it’s quite satisfying to work through interesting new issues when they come up, even if we would rather everything ran smoothly! I also enjoy teaching new junior team members how to run a wind tunnel shift, and how to get the best out of our technology.

If you weren’t doing this job what would you be doing?
I was keen on maths and physics at school, and studied engineering at university, so I think I would still be working in Engineering, but perhaps in the aviation or automotive industries. I’ve always been a big F1 fan, so I think I’d still be following the sport even if I didn’t work in it.

What do you do after work? How do you unwind?
I really enjoy exercise – I try to cycle or run several times a week. I also love watching films and playing computer games when I can. However, I’m proud to say I became a father in February this year, so I’m looking forward to swapping all of that for time with my baby daughter!

Do you have any tips/advice for those wanting to work in the industry?
Whichever area of F1 you want to get into, you will need to have the right qualifications to get there, but showing a real keenness and enthusiasm for the job and the F1 industry can help set you apart.