My motoring inspiration: Ben Eaton

Mercedes F1 no.44

In this article: How this young star’s career went from starting grid to pole position (and title-winning glory)

Who or what first got you interested in the motor industry?

I never really looked up to anyone in the industry, but I always had an interest in cars and vehicles growing up. If it had wheels, I wanted a go in it! I also loved all the car programmes on TV, the restoration shows and the overhauling shows and even Pimp My Ride, and when I got towards the end of my time at school, I realised there were lots of jobs available in the motor industry.

How did you decide which career path you wanted to take and how did you set about making it happen?

When I left school at 16, I didn’t want to carry on with classroom studies at college or university. I wanted a more hands-on experience where I could learn a skill and earn money too, so an apprenticeship seemed like the the right way forward for me. After thinking about the interests I had at the time – technology, art and cars – I decided to enrol on a car-painting apprenticeship with BMW at Sytner Sheffield.

How has your career developed so far, and what are your goals for the future?

All of my roles have required I completed my four-year apprenticeship with BMW and was named Apprentice of the Year when I graduated. I then won the National Painter of the Year competition, which lead me to hear about the World Skills competitions.

I became part of Team UK and represented my country at World Skills London 2011, where I won the bronze medal, beating competitors from all over the world. After that success, I joined the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team and painted Michael Schumacher’s car in my first year. Since then, I have gone on to paint Nico Rosberg’s, Valtteri Bottas’s and Lewis Hamilton’s F1 cars. The team has been great – and we’ve won seven world titles!

I’m still enjoying the motorsport side of the industry for now, but who knows what the future may hold and where my career will take me.

Is there anything you would have done differently with the benefit of hindsight?

Looking back, I think I did everything to the best of my ability. I don’t think there was any opportunity I didn’t take, so no, I don’t think I would have done anything differently.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in the motor industry?

I would say that if you have a passion for cars or any part of the motor industry, go ahead and check out the different types of apprenticeships and apprenticeship providers out there, as well as relevant courses in further education.

Do you have advice for someone who wants to work in motorsport specifically?

There are so many different roles involved in motorsport, so always check the companies’ websites for job opportunities. You have to go out there to get them – they won’t come to you.

Ben Eaton is a Composite Paint Technician at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team

Who are your motoring inspirations? Let us know and you could be featured. email the MotorPro editor.

This is an edited extract from IMI's new MotorPro magazine, received free as part of IMI membership