Behind the scenes of any big event, whether it be in sport or music, there are those who are responsible for the organisation of everything down to the smallest detail. Jennifer Gazeas has been working in the infrastructure side of motorsport for several years covering both Formula One and Formula E. I spoke to her about her career, working alongside the FIA and the differences between F1 and FE.
Growing up in Australia, sport was always a passion for Jennifer with her playing netball and watching her older brother competing in Aussie Rules Football. However, she was also intrigued by those in the roles around her. “I was more interested in the statics and how they coordinated the game,” she said. Having studied Event Management at university, her career began in music, though working in sport remained on her wishlist. “I was heavily into the live music scene in Melbourne. I worked so many music events: Gods Kitchen, Summerdayze and Big Day Out Music Festival. Then I wanted a new challenge, and the sporting industry was next up,” Gazeas explained.
Her first role in motorsport came in 2005 at the Australian Grand Prix where she had a short -term role for the race weekend. “I was part of the event staff team and stood at the overpass near Turn 13 – 14 and was an ‘Overpass Attendant’. I stood there for 4 days and checked tickets!” Jennifer told me. It was then in 2007 that Gazeas secured a longer 30-day contract at the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, covering both the F1 and Motorcycle Grands Prix. “I landed a contract as the Corporate Ticketing Supervisor. I was responsible for the collating and dissemination of all the corporate tickets to the respective clients, partners and sponsors which included preparing tickets, lanyards and event information packs,” she said.
Following this, Jennifer’s career took her to working with Motorsport Australia, formerly the Confederation of Australian Motorsport. Her first role involved issuing permits for racing, across all 4-wheeled disciplines. She then went on to coordinate the Australian Institute of Sport’s driver development programme, designed to give young racers guidance for the future. “When I first started at Motorsport Australia, I was responsible for reviewing and issuing Event Permit applications. I would review the Supplementary Regulations for the different types of events and ensure that they were in accordance with the National Competition Rules,” Gazeas told me. This work provided her with an in-depth understanding of the regulations in motorsport, leading her to take on a secondary role alongside the FIA. “I worked alongside the FIA as the Formula 1 Stewards Secretary. I was administratively supporting the Stewards to ensure penalties to drivers during the race were communicated to the teams, media and the local race organising committee,” she explained. Her work within Motorsport Australia continued when she travelled with the International Project Management Team to help with the creation of the inaugural Korean Formula 1 Grand Prix. “We were there to assist the circuit, the local governing body and their officials, and the operational assistance on the ground. It was such an eye-opening cultural experience and the race was unpredictable at every twist and turn,” Jennifer said.
Gazeas went on to have several short-term contracts with both the F1 and MotoGP Australian Grands Prix. This involved her working onsite to ensure the support categories such as Supercars, Porsche, Ferrari Challenge and Australian GT, were all fully functioning with operational paddocks. She also assisted with the running of the on-track activities such as the Minardi Two-Seater activities and the Formula 1 Drivers and Moto GP Riders Parades.
In 2015, Jennifer began working with the Engineering Team as an Engineering Assistant. “I started off managing many minor works contracts, such as air conditioning, fuel supply and furniture fit-out. I was also responsible for the coordination and delivery of all event facilities required for the staging of the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. I then progressed to become the Infrastructure Coordinator and began to develop the detailed construction plan for the delivery of track and infrastructure requirements in accordance with FIM, Dorna and MotoGP teams. As the Manager of Infrastructure for the F1 Grand Prix, I was responsible for managing key stakeholder relationships with the Venue and the Engineering Project Management Team and oversaw the management of all Formula 1 teams infrastructure requirements for the teams garages, hospitality suites and international sea and air freight operations,” she described.
Jennifer began working in the United Arab Emirates in 2018 when she joined Yas Marina Circuit, home of the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix. “I originally applied for a role working as a site manager, however the circuit suggested an alternate position in paddock logistics. The role worked across the F1, F2 and F3 paddocks. My experience of working closely with teams in Melbourne and their requirements allowed me to transfer my skills to the Abu Dhabi event. My role entailed working with F1 teams to prepare and manage the delivery of the garage, hospitality villas and necessary equipment,” she said. However, this did present her with some challenges, the main being the difference between circuits. “My biggest challenge was the vast difference between a permanent circuit and a temporary circuit. It really is a luxury to see aspects of the paddock already built to the right specifications. From a cultural perspective it was a challenge to work around features such as prayer times, but it was an amazing experience to work with such diverse cultures and an awesome circuit,” Gazeas explained.
Her work in the UAE led Jennifer to entering the world of Formula E, with this part of Asia an emerging market in motorsport, she became the Head of the Venue Design and Overlay Department for the ABB FIA Formula E Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia. “This involved working with the Formula E Track & Overlay Team and Project Director to ensure the build and dismantle is delivered on time and on budget. It also encompassed working with other various stakeholders including local Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) government agencies and local authorities. Essentially, I led the team which was responsible for helping to transform the world heritage site of Diriyah to create compliant event facilities capable of handling a world-class major event and racing track! I oversaw the entire build program including the track infrastructure, civil works and all the temporary items including a customized structure for the KSA Royal Family,” Jennifer said. When it comes to the difference between F1 and Formula E, it is FE’s message that is an important factor for Gazeas as well as its street racing nature. “Formula 1 is 70 years old and Formula E is only 6 years old,” she told me. “Formula E is a completely different category of motorsport, with a very strong core message. The Formula E Championship is actively promoting electric mobility and renewable energy solutions to contribute to reducing air pollution and fighting against climate change around the world. The biggest difference that I found is the complete pop-up nature of the street-circuit track versus the permanent circuit… and of course the sound!!”
Along with her work in Formula E, Jennifer has also returned to working in Australia as a Project Manager for the Engineering Project Management Team at the APP Corporation, responsible for the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix build and dismantle. “I had worked closely with the team for several events, and I thought that I could bring some experiences and perspectives that would be valuable. I saw it as a good step in my development to work solely on one major international event, and it also gave me more exposure to other various site, services, and civil contracts scope of works,” she explained. Being a part of many different projects has been a theme throughout Jennifer’s career and something she enjoys. “The more projects that get you out of your comfort zone, the better. From my experience it takes a leap into the unknown to find the next big thing to challenge yourself,” Gazeas told me.
When it comes to challenges, there’s one factor that affects almost all aspects of Jennifer’s job. “From an operational point of view, the weather! Regardless of where you are, it’s the one thing that affects everything you are doing!” she said. Despite the difficulties, there have been many highlights of her career, with the revolutionary Formula E rating high on her list of achievements. “Definitely the Formula E-Prix in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Gazeas said of the moment she is most proud of. “It was exciting to be a part of a historical event for the country, which not only represents the future of motorsports but also emphasises and promotes sustainable practice, raising awareness of the benefits to driving electric and how clean mobility can counteract climate change.”