Work / Life: Renault Sport Academy Director

A day in the life...
Mia Sharizman, Renault Sport Academy Director

What’s your job responsibility?
I’m responsible for managing and developing the Renault Sport Academy drivers. At the moment we have six drivers: Max, Christian, Victor, Anthoine, Guanyu and Caio all competing in different junior championships in Formula Renault, Formula 3 and Formula 2.
 
What are you responsible for in your job? What does that involve, what do you do, who with?
I have to scout and sign young driver talent and then nurture drivers through the racing ranks. The ultimate goal is to place an Academy driver in the Formula 1 race seat and then progressing them to compete for world championship titles. I work closely with different race teams, driver managers, physios and trainers to find the best drivers and develop them to be future Formula 1 drivers.
 
Describe a typical day in your job.
At a race weekend, I wake up and go for a run early in the morning to start the day. Between Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I try to have breakfast with the drivers, have a morning brief with them and plan out the day. I aim to get them to focus on what is important and what is not. At the race track, they are mostly with their team or trainer and I tend to observe them from session to session.
 
My job also involves meeting and discussing with the driver’s manager, parents and team manager. This year will be exceptionally busy at a Formula 1 weekend with a number of our drivers competing in Formula 2 and Formula 3, so there will be lots to deal with – all while managing Victor and Caio in Formula Renault. My job is all about management and relationship skills. I want to make sure every driver feels important and valued to Renault and the Academy.
 
How did you get the job? What is your background and why did you take this job?
I’ve been in motorsport, in particular in Formula 1, for the last 20 years. I come from Malaysia and was involved in hosting the Formula 1 Grand Prix there when it first started. I then moved into junior single-seater racing in Asia. In fact, I helped set-up the Formula BMW Asia series in 2003, which was the championship Daniel Ricciardo first drove a single-seater in 2006.

My job then took me to the UK in 2010 when I was part of the Caterham Formula 1 team and by 2011 we created the Caterham GP2 squad. I started to work closely with junior drivers, including setting up the Caterham Academy. In 2016, along with Renault’s return to Formula 1, I was asked to manage the Renault Sport Academy.
 
What is your most memorable moment…
It hasn’t happened yet. It will be when the first Academy driver has the full Formula 1 race seat.
 
And the worst part of your job…?
I have three children of mine and it’s like having another six children every year. I perceive the drivers as my own children!
 
The best part of your job then…
But that is also the best part of the job! I treat them like they are my children. You want them to succeed, to have a good life and be the best they can be, as it is with your own children. It can be the best and worst part of the job. Sometimes you are angry, upset and sad, but they also make you very proud.

What do you do after work? How do you unwind?
I like to spend time with my family. With the nature of our work with all the travelling, maybe 25 to 30 weeks a year, it’s important to spend as much time with them. I like playing sports with my children. I also watch a lot of live sport, so going to tennis events or football matches is also good to unwind.
 
What do you do before going to sleep?
I try to read a chapter of a book. At the moment I’m on Casino Royale. I try not to look at my phone.
 

PLAN B… IF YOU WEREN’T DOING YOUR JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE INSTEAD? I would have become a politician.

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