Please tell us about yourself
Senior Aerodynamic Design Engineer Samantha Groombridge plays a big part in the creation of our cars. Get to know her and her work in the latest instalment of our “Meet the SFI Family” series!
How would you sum up your job and how does that help the team move forward?
The role of a design engineer in the aerodynamic department is very varied: each day is always different than the last and the challenges are never the same. We use a very powerful Computer Aided Design package to enable us to work with aerodynamicists to get the shapes they need into the computer. If you run your fingers over the full-size race car, every shape you touch has been defined by an aerodynamic design engineer.
How long have you been a member of the Sahara Force India Family?
I joined the team in June 2010 and immediately knew I had come home. The four years since then have flown by: there have been some great cars, such as the VJM05 that went on to claim a massive 109-points haul; the VJM06 as the first ‘evolution’ and now the VJM07 with its panther looks, distinctive nose and already a podium to boot.
Most people within our team have always been passionate about Formula One; how did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
I grew up watching Formula One with my dad, sitting on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon. When I was just 16, I was lucky enough to find myself at Spa for a Sportscar race and was allowed to sit in a Lister Storm: that was the moment when I really discovered my passion for motorsport. I went on to do a degree in Automotive Engineering at the University of Hertfordshire and from there to become a data engineer for a Le Mans team. I achieved my F1 dream in 2006, becoming a junior design engineer in an F1 Aerodynamic department. Sahara Force India is my second F1 team and I have now been in the sport for eight and a half years.
What is your favourite Sahara Force India moment?
We have many favourite moments in the design office: when data comes in confirming a gain, when an idea solves a design problem, when we all come together as a team to overcome a particular challenge. These are the little victories that give us the momentum to push that bit harder and, truthfully, those are my favourite. These are the moments that add up to the big highlights everyone else remembers – the Brazil 2012s and the Bahrain 2014s.
Which are the most challenging parts of your work?
Being the conduit between aerodynamicist and computer is one of the trickiest bits. We have to help the aerodynamicist realise the thought that is in their head and we have to be able to interpret different forms of input – from data tables to drawings to verbal discussions – and turn them into the shape that is required, quickly, efficiently and, most importantly, modifiably – just in case the aero guys say ‘yes… like that… but different’!
Away from the Team HQ, what’s big in the life of Sam?
I have recently become a home owner and have discovered the power of a paint brush – when you have a challenging work/life balance somehow painting the spare room can become even more rewarding!