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Zim woman breaks new ground in F1 as she collects Lewis Hamilton’s trophy

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Stephanie Travers

Zim woman breaks new ground in Formula One as she collects Lewis Hamilton’s trophy. The 25-year-old Zimbabwean is a Trackside Fluid Engineer for the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team where she works alongside world champion driver Lewis Hamilton.

Stephanie Travers continues to push the barriers in the male-dominated field of motor racing after she became the first black woman to stand at the Formula One podium.

She grabbed world headlines, at the conclusion of the Styrian Grand Prix in Austria over the weekend, when she was sent to collect the winners’ trophy on behalf of the team.  Mercedes made it two wins, out of two, in 2020, with Valtteri Bottas taking victory at the Austrian Grand Prix in the season-opener and Hamilton tasting glory on Sunday.

Travers joined Hamilton for the celebrations. Mercedes have joined the Black Lives Matter movement and their cars, for this season, are black in colour. Travers is one of the few racing staff, within the paddock, coming from a minority ethnic background, in the sport flooded by white men.

According to reports the from UK newspaper, the Daily Mail, Mercedes are keen to set the foundations of promoting diversity in the sport. Travers has been living in the UK since 2004 after her family relocated from Harare’s Arcadia suburb.

Her life changed dramatically last year when she was selected, from 7 000 entrants globally, to join the six-time world championship-winning team and provide them with a comprehensive suite of fluid support services.

“Formula 1 is an industry that I’ve always wanted to work in,” she explained in her recent interview with Autosport magazine. “Growing up, I used to watch races with my dad and travel to some races with friends.

“It’s something that I’ve always aspired to one day work within. I tailored my education with the goal of becoming a trackside fluid engineer. “Luckily, the subjects I enjoyed at school fitted in line with the subjects that I needed to achieve the job.

“I then proceeded to apply for the Petronas global talent search. That was launched in 2018 to find a trackside fluid engineer and had over 7 000 applicants.’’

When she got the job, it was the breakthrough she had dreamt about. “I was successful in achieving something that I dreamed of ever since I was a child,’’ she said. “Formula 1 is a sport that I have always followed and something that I’m very passionate about.

“As a trackside fluid engineer, I provide the technical support and analysis for the Mercedes Formula 1 team. “This service includes doing the analysis for the Petronas Syntium engine oil, Petronas Tutela gearbox and transmission oil, and the Petronas Primax fuel on a typical race weekend.

“I do the analysis to ensure that we are compliant with FIA regulations, and also to monitor the health of the car, as a whole, throughout a race weekend. “The most important thing is to ensure that we work together with the team, and make sure that we run samples before and after every session to be certain that we’re FIA compliant.

“It’s doing the necessary analysis, using our gas chromatograph, viscometer, spectrometer to provide the fluid analysis and support to the team.’’

Working for the global energy giant Petronas, the title sponsors for the Mercedes AMG F1 team, means that Travers (who holds a B Eng in Chemical Engineering with Industrial Studies from the University of Bradford, and an MSc in Advanced Chemical Engineering from Imperial College London), and the rest of the F1 team, continually push the boundaries of innovation.

“Working together and responding to the team’s key requirements enabled us to become six-time double world champions last year. “This was not easy to achieve and on average, during a race weekend, we worked 70-80 hours,” she said.

Source – The Herald

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