S'porean makes it into F1 team

When he was in Primary 5, he watched his first Formula 1 race and was captivated.

From then on, Mr Gautham Ramesh had only one ambition - to become an engineer working on F1 cars.

Today, the 29-year-old Singaporean is living his dream. He is working with Italian racing team Scuderia Toro Rosso.

He has also met F1 racers such as Charles Pic and Timo Glock in the factories, and Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber in the paddocks.

Mr Ramesh, who graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2011, has been a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) methodology engineer since 2014.

Before joining the Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 team, he worked with the Lotus F1 Team, the Marussia F1 Team and the Williams F1 Team.

In an e-mail interview with The New Paper, Mr Ramesh, who is based in Oxford, England, said: "I got interested in F1 almost immediately due to the sheer wonder of the physics of the race car and how engineers have enabled these drivers to drive at such speeds in the corners."

"This fascination, which then developed into a passion or even an obsession, gave rise to studying engineering as an important pathway into entering the Formula 1 industry as an aerodynamicist," he said.

Mr Ramesh got his first taste of working with race cars when he was in NUS as part of its Formula Society of Automotive Engineering (FSAE) Race Car Project.

He was the team leader of this project during his final year in 2011. That year, the team was ranked 23rd out of 120 teams for the competition that is held every May in Michigan in the US.

Mr Ramesh's foray into F1 started when he was pursuing his Masters of Science at UK's Imperial College.

While completing his master's thesis in 2012 as a junior CFD aerodynamicist with Williams F1, he found out that Marussia F1 were expanding their aerodynamics department and secured a job there.


Nine months later, he got a call from Lotus F1 to join them as a CFD Methodology Engineer.

He later joined Scuderia Toro Rosso in the same role.

Mr Ramesh, who is married to a Singaporean doctor, said: "Everything that I did in my life and every decision taken was with keeping F1 as the ultimate goal.

"I would say I wasn't surprised I entered the industry because I had set out a plan with an end goal."

Mr Ramesh, who describes his job as exciting, said there usually is no typical work day.

"In my department, we run over 1,000 computer simulations a week on average and the results of each simulation is analysed to help drive design and developmental work.

"There will be some slow days where I will be researching new ways of modelling turbulent air flow in CFD and other days where it will require a constant tweaking of certain numbers in the code to achieve a pre-defined goal... It is a constantly evolving goal post and a never-ending fight to find more performance to put on the race car."

Mr Ramesh returns to Singapore regularly to visit his family and his NUS juniors in the FSAE.

NUS engineering faculty's Professor Seah Kar Heng, adviser of the NUS FSAE Project, said: "I feel it is an exceptional honour for an NUS student to be working professionally in an F1 team. It speaks volumes for the engineering prowess of our graduates.

"He was a very capable team leader, working competently in the face of seemingly insurmountable problems."

- NUS engineering faculty's Professor Seah Kar Heng on Mr Gautham Ramesh


This article was first published on Feb 15, 2016.
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