Stephanie Travers works as a trackside fluid engineer for Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team (later in this article shortened to Mercedes). What makes it even more impressive is the fact that she beat more than 7,000 applicants from all over the world to claim the spot.
Written by Tanishka Vashee, Edited by Esmée Koppius
Stephanie made history during the Stryian Grand Prix of 2020 by being the first ever black woman to have stood on the podium in the history of Formula one! Seeing her on the podium definitely inspired young people and more love and support for her poured in when Lewis Hamilton dedicated a post on instagram to her.
Stryian Grand Prix, 2020 – Stephanie Travers and Sir Lewis Hamilton
Travrers was born in the city of Harare, Zimbabwe. Her love for motosport started at a young age, as she would hear her brother and father talk about Formula one races. With every passing year, her interest in Formula one grew. Especially the technical side of it. She talked about how she would travel to races with her friends.
When she was 10, her family moved to the UK. She was certain that she wanted to work in F1 and would do what it takes, she specialized in Chemical Engineering and the rest is history. She applied for the Global talent search in 2018 and was successful in being able to achieve something she has dreamed of since she was a child. She joined Mercedes as their track side fluid engineer during the 2019 pre-season testing in Spain.
Every weekend, Stephanie works on setting up the lab and giving the team important insight about all the fluids of the car. She and her colleague En De ensure that the fuel, engine oil, gearbox and transmission fuel are in compliance to the rules set down by the FIA.
She also analyses all the fluids to make sure that the wear is normal and not excessive, this gives an insight to the condition of the cars. In an interview with Autosport, Travers explained more about her weekend schedule which is demanding to say the least.
Her weekend starts off with setting up the lab and making sure that the equipment they use trackside has not been affected in transit and is in compliance with FIA regulations.
She uses machinery such as the gas Chromatograph to analyse the fuel, a Viscometer to check the viscosity of the engine oil and the spectrometer to analyse the engine oil and gearbox oil. She takes samples before and after every session of the weekend to make sure the car is performing its best.
She also explained how she is in communication with not only the other technical staff present at the track but also the scientists back in Turin at the Petronas research center and hundreds around the world. Her learning and insight from work on the track side is used by the research team at Petronas for future formulations. When they aren’t racing, Travers is always making sure things such as fuel and oil are arriving to the track as scheduled and have not been tampered in any way.
Her schedule is demanding but is rewarding, for the silver arrows would not be as dominating without the hard work of people like her. Her story is motivating, if you dream about it, and you put in the work it takes you can definitely do it.
Travers is an inspiration to young girls who love motorsport and dream of working in the technical field. STEM careers should no longer be a male dominated field, and she is a confirmation that if given the opportunity young women, they can excel in technical careers too.