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Formula 1 engineer backs Loughborough student who beat cancer to land a career in racing’s top flight

Loughborough student James Allitt was given an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of one of the best Formula 1 engineering factories in the world

Beating cancer has given engineering student James Allitt the resilience needed to make it in Formula 1, according to Loughborough alumni Dan Milner who works at Mercedes AMG Petronas.

Earlier this year, James got the unique chance to witness cutting edge Formula 1 technology being tested at the team’s factory in Brackley, Northamptonshire, after being introduced to Dan – now Lead Engineer for Heat Rejection Systems at Mercedes – through the university’s Alumni Association.

The 20-year-old undergraduate, who is studying Automotive Engineering, was given an exclusive behind the scenes access to the facility in September, and witnessed next season’s technology being developed as well as watching live action from the Singapore Grand Prix in the onsite race control room.

James, from Nuneaton, said: “It was a race weekend so I got to go into the control room and see the practice laps.

“I listened to the drivers talking and watched everything that goes on behind the scenes. It was amazing.

“I also saw the race cars being built, and tested.

“Some of the stuff was in the very early stages of development – things like carbon fibre fittings and 3D printed parts – so it was great to see that before anyone else.

“I also got to ask questions to the engineers, a lot of them were Loughborough alumni, about three or four, I think, so I asked about the course and what it’s like working at Mercedes.”

Inspired by what he saw, James now has his sights set on a career with an F1 team, possibly at Mercedes, once he has completed the five year course at Loughborough.

“It would be great,” said the budding engineer. “I loved the day.

“Any doubts that I had about wanting to go into motorsport and F1 are gone, it’s a definite now.

“It would be like achieving all my goals and getting all my Christmases at once.”

In May 2012, while still at school, James was diagnosed with leukaemia and underwent treatment at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

“I was on the Teenage Cancer Trust Ward,” he said. “It was tough because I was doing my GCSEs at the time and had to move back a year.

“The ward was fantastic though – they recognised you were a teenager so they didn’t get you up early, you had computers to play on and you got to hang out with your mates.

“I’m very happy that that that’s behind me now and I’m settling into life at Loughborough now – I’m really looking forward to my time here.”

The bravery James displayed during his illness will help him achieve his dream, said Dan, who offered words of encouragement to the ambitious student.

“I think one of the things you need when working in motorsport is to be really resilient and hard-working,” said Dan. “James has shown his character by overcoming the challenges he has faced and with flying colours.”

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