The thrill of watching lightweight cars speed around city streets at Singapore's annual Formula One (F1) night race lures both kids and adults to the stands. Now, budding motorsport enthusiasts intent on winning a coveted place in the industry have a chance to learn from one of F1's top teams.
Williams—which races in the F1 as Williams Martini Racing—and global recruitment firm Randstad choose 11 students aged between 15-18 to participate in a new program this year aimed at helping pupils become F1 engineers.
Called the Randstad Williams Engineering Academy, successful graduates from the e-learning program will be considered for full-time roles at Williams, the third most successful racing team on the grid and winner of 16 FIA Formula One World Championship titles.
And now, there's a new way into the elite program. The engineering academy has signed a partnership with a non-profit organization called F1 in Schools.
The U.K. group conducts a global program in which schools can enter teams of students to design and build miniature racing cars. Active in 40 countries, the program has engaged 20 million students since its launch in 1999 and, interestingly for what is seen as a male-dominated field, 36 percent of its participants are female.
This year, students from around the world who proceeded to the final round of the competition—held in Singapore on Wednesday—were among the lucky 11 selected for the Randstad Williams Engineering Academy.
So, what does it take to secure a job in the glamorous world of motorsport racing?
"You have to have a blend of skills to secure a high-level job. To be a team principal at F1, you must understand aerodynamics, mechanical engineering, vehicle dynamics as well as being able to read a balance sheet, talk to media and bring in sponsors," Claire Williams, deputy team principal at Williams, told CNBC.
As for students aspiring to be drivers like reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel, it's a tough road ahead.
"Nowdays, you have to start karting at the age of three or four. It takes a huge amount of commitment if you're going to continue through all the karting championships and move your way up to the ranks of single-seater racing," Williams warned.
"At the end of the day, there are only 20 seats [to be] fighting for and these days, F1 drivers are working for a lot longer than before. Jenson Button for example, is now racing in his 15th season."
With over 260 Grand Prix starts, Button is considered F1's most experienced driver.
Andrew Denford, the founder and chairman of F1 in Schools, expects the number of his graduates working at the professional level to spike now the program has partnered with the Randstad Williams Engineering Academy.
"The icing on the cake for these students is knowing they can get a chance to work at Williams," he said.
Another goal of the collaboration is to interest more students in the engineering field.
"Engineering is the third most attractive sector of study in Singapore, behind hospitality and transport, but yet we see a scarcity of young people with engineering degrees who go onto professional roles," said Deb Loveridge, Asia Pacific managing director at Randstad.
Despite Asia's reputation for excellence in science and math, engineers remain a scarce commodity in the region she added, noting that broader degrees such as business or marketing attract the bulk of students.