Mark Nanney, a member of Unitus Racing, the 2010 F1 in Schools™ World Champions from USA recently completed a work placement at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 team, an experience which will stay with him for many years to come.

A team from Southeast High School in Florida, Unitus Racing not only won the 2010 F1 in Schools World Finals held in Singapore, but were also placed third at the 2011 World Finals event in Malaysia.

An internship at the multiple World Championship winning Formula 1 team is highly prestigious, with places being extremely limited and much sought-after , and Nanney's F1 in Schools success was the key to opening the door and having the chance to work within the impressive Formula 1 race team's headquarters, the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking.

“When I started doing the F1 in Schools challenge, I would never have thought it could lead me to such an amazing opportunity”, says Nanney. “As part of the prize for winning the World Finals Unitus Racing were given access to the F1 paddock at the Singapore Grand Prix and we had an amazing time meeting drivers and being presented with our trophy by Bernie Ecclestone. This is when the seed was sown in my mind to try and secure a placement.”

Nanney was keen to prove his determination and last year flew over from the USA to the British Grand Prix to meet with F1 team contacts.  The young American's tenacity paid off with an invitation to have an eight-week placement at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 team.  Just under a year later Nanney travelled back to the UK to start work in Woking.

“It has been the most amazing and insightful two months at McLaren,” explained Nanney. “I have been working on the mechanical design of components for F1 car wind tunnel models and gaining an understanding of the design and manufacture of suspension, body and wing parts. The work environment is so unique as well, there's a fantastic team atmosphere which is very infectious. It's been a real eye-opener into the world of F1 from a team perspective and is definitely a career goal for me now.”

Nanney adds, “I would encourage any student interested in engineering to get involved with F1 in Schools. It is great fun as a school project, but it also exposes you to the opportunities which this industry offers. With so much competition for university places and jobs, it gives you a head start which is invaluable as you start out on your career.”

Jonathan Neale, Managing Director, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes,  praised Nanney's determination, saying, “Mark has proved to be an exemplary student and has put in plenty of hard work and effort during his time with us. I hope that we have given him a good insight into working in a Formula 1 team and inspired him to pursue a career in engineering. “

Andrew Denford, Founder and Chairman of F1 in Schools, added, “Mark is one of a growing number of F1 in Schools participants who have secured work placements within F1 teams and companies linked to the motor racing industry and it is excellent to see the hard work they put into their F1 in School project rewarded with these opportunities, which are few and far between.”

Denford is proud of the contribution which F1 in Schools is making to shape the students' career paths, saying, “Our over-riding aim is to promote the opportunities available in the engineering industry, using the popularity of Formula 1 to engage students. As the initiative has expanded we are seeing ever increasing numbers of students benefiting from their participation in F1 in Schools, from winning places at university, to work placements and career openings. I am very proud of the positive impact we are having and Mark is just one of our success stories.”

F1 in Schools aims to help change perceptions of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) by creating a fun and exciting learning environment for young people to develop an informed view about careers in engineering, Formula One, Science, marketing and technology.  Students are given a brief to design a model compressed air powered F1 Car of the future using CAD/CAM Engineering techniques. Cars are then manufactured on a CNC machine. Each team of between three and six students brings together their portfolio of work to present to a judging panel with a verbal and written presentation to support their model car, which is raced on a specially designed test track.

The cars race on a 20 metre track, with the cars covering the distance in just over one second, a speed barrier which is yet to be broken by any student team since it was set by Team FUGA from Northern Ireland at the 2007 World Finals with a time of 1.020 seconds.

The F1 in Schools programme operates in over 40 countries. Each of the National Champions is invited to the World Finals, competing for the prestigious Bernie Ecclestone World Champions trophy and coveted automotive and motorsport engineering scholarships to City University London.

F1 in Schools is supported by Formula One Management and Bernie Ecclestone together with The IET and City University London.


Mark Nanney, a member of Unitus Racing, the 2010 F1 in Schools™ World Champions from USA recently completed a work placement at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 team, an experience which will stay with him for many years to come.

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