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Racing towards equality

Disha Naik (MEng Mechanical Engineering (with Intercalated Year), 2020), is revving up the world of motorsports. Her head start came from Warwick Racing, a student-run motorsport project team, delivered by WMG as a group project in collaboration with the School of Engineering. Here she pursued her passion for motorsports and helped break down diversity barriers.

In her first year with Warwick Racing, Disha enthusiastically immersed herself in various aspects of designing and constructing formula-style race cars, assisting with everything from internal combustion engines to suspension systems.

“What set Warwick Racing apart was its commitment to hands-on experience, with a significant portion of the car's components built in-house, providing team members with a comprehensive understanding of automotive engineering.”

However, Disha's journey was not without its challenges, particularly in an industry where gender biases still persist.

Disha beside a pink F1 car

"I knew it was a difficult industry to enter. Not only was I female in a male-dominated profession, but being a British Asian added an extra layer of motivation as I wanted to pave the way for more diversity and inclusivity in motorsports, proving that passion and talent know no boundaries.

“I was grateful for the supportive culture at Warwick Racing and particularly for the guidance and encouragement that my brilliant tutor Dave Cooper (Engineering Technician, Student Projects, WMG), provided. It was my involvement with Warwick Racing that instilled in me the determination and confidence to break through these barriers.

"During my time working on the project, an impressive 40% of the team's senior positions were held by female members. This achievement is particularly noteworthy when you consider that female performance and participation in the motorsports industry are very low. For example, female racing drivers only make up for around 10% of participation across all categories of competition.”*

Disha's role in Warwick Racing evolved over the four years. As the team transitioned to renewable energy, Disha's

wmg racing car on trak

project management responsibilities expanded to include the electrification car division and later took on a leadership role as a Chief Engineer - Chassis. The team's success and hard work were evident when they prepared to compete in the Formula Student Class 1 competition in 2020. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to shift to a virtual competition, but they adapted and continued to perform.

“My love for motorsports was born from my dad's passion for Formula 1 during the early 2000 Michael Schumacher era. Our trips to Silverstone, Hungary, and Germany together strengthened my interest in the field. His encouragement gave me the confidence to see that with my strong skills in maths and science, an engineering course at the University was the perfect avenue for me to blend my abilities and use my skills practically.”

Disha's journey has continued to accelerate beyond Warwick Racing. As a Junior Suspension Engineer for Alpine F1 Team, she designs components for the car's suspension system.

“From visiting racetracks around Europe with my father as a young girl to working on F1 cars that are on the circuit today, I still pinch myself to believe it's real.

“I am grateful for all the opportunities that came my way at Warwick, including being selected for the Women in Engineering Scholarship/Bursary Programme, which encourages gender diversity in Engineering. This programme would not have been possible without the generous support of two donors committed to addressing the shortage of female role models in engineering.”

wmg racing car on track

Disha recognises the importance of diversity and its impact on encouraging young girls to pursue STEM subjects. She actively participates in initiatives like the Rac(H)er program, promoting diversity and inclusion in motorsports.

“I hope by sharing my story, I can inspire, motivate and empower the next generation of female engineers. Ultimately, my goal is to break down barriers and close the gender gap in engineering for good.”


*Female participation in motorsport is in the region of 10% according to a study by More Than EqualLink opens in a new window, an organisation co-founded by ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard.