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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.”

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 16/151

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named the best in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey. Loughborough was ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2017 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2017 and was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017, and University of the Year in the What Uni Student Choice Awards 2015.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In September 2015 the University opened an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.


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