Meet our Engineering Design Manager
Engineering Design Manager Stefano Sangiorgi is responsible for leading the design of every single Hyundai Motorsport-built car. Collaboration with other departments is a vital element of his work, as they endeavour to create a fast and reliable car for our WRC crew and Customer Racing teams. As he will explain himself, success is all about compromise and working together as a team.
What persuaded you to join Hyundai Motorsport and how long have you been with the company?
I started in May 2015 and I joined for several reasons. The position at the time was to be responsible for the Drawing Office, which I felt was an important move for my career and found the idea of working in a new category attractive. Previously I had worked in Formula 1 and GT racing but rallying was completely new to me. It was a huge chance to increase my knowledge of the world of motorsport. It was also a personal challenge to move to another country – I love challenges!
What are your responsibilities as the Engineering Design Manager?
I am in charge of the chassis design for all Hyundai Motorsport projects: from WRC to our Customer Racing projects with the TCR, R5, and ETCR cars. It is an incredibly diverse job. My main task is to define the key points for the design of new projects and ensure that all the technical requirements are fulfilled.
What are the main priorities of the department?
Put simply, it is to build reliable and fast cars. We start by organising the working groups for each project with all the required departments involved. We co-operate with the workshop and Powertrain department to find the best compromise possible between performance, reliability and serviceability of the car – it’s important when we are at tests, races or rallies that we can perform a quick service on the car.
How close is this work with the other departments?
Close collaboration is a key factor to our success; we need to work together to create an outstanding car. Good team work is the only way to achieve this. We have regular meetings each week to make sure we are all working to achieve our goals.
How do you design a racing car – where do you start?
We always start with the technical regulations and define the boundaries of what is allowed and what is not. Based on that, we refine the target for each group starting with the chassis, suspension, cockpit and aerodynamics. These then have to merge with the powertrain requirements, so we work closely with each department to be able to create the highest performing car. I have to say the current WRC car was my favourite to work on, but all the projects have been really enjoyable and have increased my technical knowledge. I’m always hungry to know more and it’s challenging to play within the rules of each category and find the best solution to a fast and reliable car.
How do drivers and tests affect the design and the development of the car parts?
They play an important role because they are the first feedback on the car. We always cross reference this with the data we’ve acquired but there are certain things we just can’t capture. Every detail they can give us from their experience in the cockpit is welcome as it helps us with our development. At the end of the day, they have to drive quickly, so we need to find the best car and tune it to suit their individual driving styles. Testing is crucial as you can try different things while having the luxury of time to do comparison analysis. We always try to simulate the rally or race conditions, which is a key factor for overall car performance. In Customer Racing, we have over 100 drivers with different needs, so we try to find a range in which the car can perform at its best to provide to our customers. We collect information from their engineers to help improve the car, but also support them to achieve the best result.
How did you first come into contact with motorsport?
I come from a family of motorsport fans. When I was a child I was always in a workshop following races as my father worked in the industry for over 40 years. It was a family affair and it was my dream to work in motorsport. At the age of 14 I began to work with some small teams in my area, starting with washing wheel rims and cleaning the car, to then beginning the assembly. I moved into data acquisition and later became a driver’s engineer – all for free, just because I wanted to learn and be a part of motorsport! I’ve had a very varied experience which has given me respect for the responsibilities of each team member – even the guy who cleans the garage. Every job and person has a value, and if it doesn’t happen something will not work. It helped me to know how to communicate with respect with people who have different approaches and stay committed to the same goal.
How do you spend your free time?
I spend time with my family and friends. In our sport, it’s easy to bring the job home with you so I try to be as present as possible, and try to find a good balance. I’ve always been like this, so it’s not a surprise to those who know me well and I think they mostly understand!
Has there been a moment with Hyundai Motorsport that really stands out for you?
There are several, but possibly the most emotional was Rally Monte-Carlo 2020. With our win, we broke the hold that our rival Sebastien Ogier has had on the event for several years. It was a confirmation that we deserved our manufacturers’ title and we worked hard during the winter to update the car. With the last event of the 2019 season cancelled, it left a bitter taste in my mouth so it was epic to start on a high and declare our intentions for the season ahead.
Winning in Monaco is incredibly special. Re-live our victory with our 2020 Rally Monte-Carlo review video.