Every month, MERCEDES GP PETRONAS will introduce one of the team’s dedicated employees. Their work may be different but they all are driven by the passion of Formula One and the desire to achieve on-track success.
Name: Gareth Webb
Job Title: Composite Operator
Hobbies: Motorsport, Football, Golf
Q: Before working in F1………..
I started my education in Brackley at the Magdalen College School which is just up the road from our factory. With a fairly good selection of GCSEs, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I left school so I listened to my mother’s advice on the important of practical experience and decided to start an electrical apprenticeship with Brackley Electrical. As part of the apprenticeship, I spent three years on a day release course at Banbury College studying electrical installations, electrical science and electronics, and the other four days of the week were spent on practical tasks at the company.
Q: Before working at MERCEDES GP PETRONAS………
I spent four years with Brackley Electrical serving my apprenticeship before moving onto CCP Electrical where we provided farms with electrical servicing, maintenance and breakdown cover. My time there came to an end in 2001 when I joined Cardale Doors for five years, building and repairing garage doors, before I took the opportunity to start work for what was then the Honda Racing F1 Team in October 2006.
Q: My job on a day to day basis………..
Before I talk about my job on a day to day basis, I would like to explain a little bit about the composites process at our factory. A large percentage of our Formula One cars are produced in the composites department, ranging from the chassis to the main gearbox case to the bodywork and suspension. All of these composite components are ‘laid up’ by the laminators and then cured in an autoclave at temperatures ranging from 55ºC up to 180 ºC. Once the part has been cured, this is where my role comes in.
My day-to-day role is working alongside a team of laminators and composite fitters to drill off and de-mould parts to the current specification. Every component has its own technical drawing with relevant hole sizes, trim lines, mould numbers and specific post-cure information to provide the detailed information that we work with. The components are then weighed and handed (i.e. left or right hand side of the car) and returned to the composite inspector who then books the component through to the composite fitters. I also help out the team leaders in running our autoclaves as they are running for virtually 24 hours a day. When curing components, the time span can vary from three and a half hours up to 12 hours depending on the size and type of materials, meaning we need someone on the job all the time.
Communication is a vital part of our job as we work with many of the departments within the factory and enabling them to track our progress means that they can plan their own work.
Q: What I like about working in F1……….
I like being part of a team. We are all working in the same direction to improve the cars so we can challenge for and win races. Another key point for me is to know that I have played my part in helping to achieve race wins and championships.
Q: The best thing about working for MERCEDES GP PETRONAS is…….
The best thing about working for MERCEDES GP PETRONAS is being part of something new. We are a small team who have one aim which is to be challenging for race wins and championships. They are the team’s aims for the future and to be part of that and to see our dreams become reality and knowing that you were part of that is a great feeling.
Q: The most challenging aspect of my work is………..
The most challenging aspect is that it can be very demanding on us and our families. Production does not stop for anyone and it is vital that we keep up with manufacturing new parts and updates because in Formula One, time waits for no-one. The knock-on effect is working long hours and sometimes right through the weekend when required so unfortunately our families can take a back seat to our jobs at times throughout the year.