Meet the Mercedes F1 intern tearing it up in Motorsport UK’s British Superkart Championship

Friday 06 May 2022

Success in motorsport is often the result of engineering excellence and driver talent, and bringing them together in perfect harmony with committed on and off-event personnel.

This has arguably never been more evident than at the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team, which brought the curtain down on a dominant run throughout the championship’s initial turbo-hybrid era with an eighth Constructors world title in 2021.

And on the factory floor at the team’s Brackley HQ, they have an intern who combines her role in the team’s Electronics Department with a front-running campaign in the spectacular British Superkart Championship. Introducing Ami Jerger.

Jerger first competed in short circuit karting aged eight after going along with the daughter of a family friend, gradually progressing through the ranks to EasyKart Junior, then Senior Lights and finally into Superkarts aged 19, entering the 125cc category after a taster day at Darley Moor.

The 22-year-old, currently in her fourth year of studying a Masters degree in Bioengineering at the University of Sheffield, competes in the UK’s premier tier of long circuit karting in the highly-competitive F450 National class, featuring a four-stroke engine capable of reaching up to 130mph.

“So, I started [at Mercedes] in July,” she explains. “The placement is in industrial electronics, so sensors and components that come back from a race.

“I’m responsible for a lot of the admin around them, but also testing them, looking at different rates and stuff, which is quite cool and there’s been a bit of software to make that better, so we can do it a bit easier in the future.

For Ami, the switch to car racing isn’t on her radar; she prefers the thrill of racing wheel-to-wheel inches from the ground, and the freedom to push flat out, without hours spent perfecting setups or techniques behind the wheel.

“It’s super exciting. The Superkarts are quick and then you’re so low to the ground, they feel even quicker than that. And they’re super agile. They respond when you turn,” explains Jerger.

“I think with cars as well, I wouldn’t want a heavy car. I picked up a bit of sim racing over lockdown and you can obviously choose what car you drive. I’m sitting there like ‘there’s something wrong with your sim. Like, why is it not turning?’ It’s just because the car is so heavy.

“And I was just not interested in all the understeer and having to do positive braking, as you do on a car. In a superkart, you’re either mostly on it or not, whereas it’s a lot to learn with braking in a car as well. You’ve got to shift the weight and that’s interesting.

“I prefer it just being like grassroots, you know?”

Jerger’s pathway could have been very different, but the freedom to pick and choose her modules at university has enabled her to be flexible as her passion to follow a career in motorsport has flourished.

“I’m actually studying bioengineering, because I was interested in medicine, but also engineering as well. So, when I got to my options at 17, I was like, I’m just going to match the two together,” she explains.

“And to be honest, I was quite happy with that because until you get to university, I don’t think you really understand what something is. So, I didn’t really know what engineering was. I’m quite lucky I can choose my modules and I ended up choosing the ones that were control and electronics.

“And then I was like, ‘I’ll do that rather than the bio side’, which if I had enjoyed more, I probably would’ve just done medicine afterwards and then become a doctor. I wasn’t that interested, and I’m also friends with medics – it’s a lot of work!”

“I went to Silverstone UTC and I was a bit worried about how mixing my hobby with my work would be. Because you don’t want to ruin what you enjoy doing in your spare time because you work in that industry.

“And that’s why I was worried. But it’s not like that at Mercedes. I enjoy what I do. I think if I didn’t enjoy my job, then it would have had a negative effect. But I can still watch an F1 race and enjoy it.”

Jerger kick-started the 2022 season on the front foot at Cadwell Park last weekend, claiming a brace of class second-placed finishes in the opening two rounds, before concluding the triple-header on the top step of the podium with a win.

She also captains the University of Sheffield’s British University Karting Championship (BUKC) programme, having previously competed in the BSKC – the equivalent for schools – in her younger years, and hailed the impact it has had on not just her academic life, but her social life too.

“At university, I’m the captain of the karting team for BUKC, run by Club 100. They look after the karts well and it’s just really good, fair racing – well, mostly! They get big grids, and you just turn up and because of that it’s quite nice. And you meet so many people doing that, there’s so many different universities that do it as well, so I’ve got friends from everywhere and it’s really cool.”

The ultimate goal for Ami is to travel the world with Mercedes’ electronics team and, her parents’ permission permitting, step up to the coveted Division 1 tier in the British Superkart Championship in the future.

“The dream would probably be to travel around the world for a bit with the team as part of the electronics team, looking at data channels during races. I would love to do that and then maybe sometimes come back home and do a race in Division 1.

“That would be the dream, but Dad won’t quite let me do Division 1 yet!”

For more information on the British Superkart Championship, visit the website here.