From living with no electricity to electrifying Formula 1 – Coventry University student flying flag for young women in motorsport

Coventry University student Ines Marokovic outside the Mercedes factory where she is on a placement year at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains

Coventry University student Ines Marokovic outside the Mercedes factory where she is on a placement year

Student news

Wednesday 21 June 2023

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During her childhood, Coventry University student Ines Marokovic went six months without running water or electricity – now she’s helping to electrify Formula 1 at motorsport giant Mercedes.

Her parents divorced when she was young and Ines’ father died when she was just 15. Watching the challenges and barriers to employment her mother faced in Croatia due to a lack of qualifications, the now 21-year-old developed a thirst for academic success which remains to this day.

The family struggled financially during her school years, but Ines did not let that stand in her way, using her studies as a form of escape.

Ines credits that period with helping her secure straight A grades that sealed a place on Coventry University’s motorsport engineering course and a placement year at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains.

She was hesitant to talk about her struggles and share her story for a very long time, but after seeing both hardship and the reward of hard work, on International Women in Engineering Day (this Friday, 23 June), Ines’ message to all driven young individuals is "nothing is impossible”.

My background and being a woman have not held me back in my engineering journey. Regardless of what happens to you in life, you choose how to react to it, and whether you will use it as an excuse or motivation.

I knew I wanted a career working in motorsport. When I was five, I remember watching my brother restore a 1987 Alfa Romero. I’d pass him wrenches and go on the test drives. He introduced me to motorsport, but he left the family home after getting married and I didn’t have the opportunity to get the same exposure to cars after that, until I was 18.

I started working when I was 16 and started saving up to apply to university outside of Croatia. I managed to save enough to do that and also buy a motorcycle. I taught myself how to fix and repair my bike and my plan to go into the motorsport industry was to prove my competence through my studies and extra-curricular activities.

Five years ago, if someone told me ‘you are going to be working on a Formula 1 engine’, I’d have laughed at them.

I could not have dreamed of being in this position then and now my goal is to prove myself at Mercedes and secure a graduate role. I know how selective they are but the best part is that my career has just started.

Coventry University student Ines Marokovic

Ines completed the first two years of her Motorsport Engineering degree with first-class grades, while working a full-time job at McDonald’s, and says she is now putting what she has learned at Coventry University into practice.

What they look for at Mercedes is the engineering way of thinking. I had a long technical interview where I had to present my technical knowledge – knowledge that I learned at Coventry University. But attitude and work ethic play a massive role too.

It has been an amazing experience at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains. All the people around me are so talented, smart, meticulous and everyone is so passionate about the finer details. I'm learning on the job and my colleagues have so much patience with me. It is hard but I know it’s rapidly developing me into a stronger person and a professional engineer. It is an amazing feeling to be part of something this big.

Formula 1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell pop into the factory sometimes and it is crazy that this is my daily job. I attended the Spanish Grand Prix and saw them racing live. It’s unbelievable to be able to say ‘I designed this component on their power unit – look at them flying down the track’.

Ines Marokovic

Ines qualified for a scholarship at Coventry University and says the support from her professors and the university’s Women in Engineering Society has been invaluable.

I chose Coventry University because of the quality of engineering courses and because life in Coventry is affordable.

What I really like at Coventry is that the degree is not fully dependent on exams. About 75% of the grades are on coursework and group projects in which you get a problem, and you need to research and deliver a solution, then present it in the form of a proper engineering document.

When you are an engineer you cannot do things alone - big success is always achieved by a team of people. I like that Coventry University engineering courses require group projects and coursework, so your success is never dependent solely on you, which really mimics real-life engineering.

Ines Marokovic
Coventry University student Ines Marokovic, next to an engine looking up at someone out of shot

My advice to any young girl wanting to go into a motorsport career is: be proud of your passion, study hard and learn how to work in a group. Surround yourself with people who share your passion and don’t be afraid of asking questions or asking for help. Trial and error is always a better teacher than everything going smoothly.

Ines Marokovic

Find out more about starting your motorsport career at Coventry University.