My name is… John Lee

My name is… John Lee

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.

My name is… John Lee

I am (age): 37

My job title is: Composite Machinist

My hobbies are: Football, Motorsport, DIY (when forced!)

Q. Before working in Formula One, I studied…

I didn’t study too hard when I was younger and was really just a normal lazy teenager! I went to art school for a few years but in the end it wasn’t for me so I applied for a trainee apprenticeship at Lola Cars. As part of my apprenticeship, I completed a number of courses to learn how to use a cutting machine. It was a technique and skill that I really enjoyed and so I have been doing more or less the same thing ever since then.


I was working at Lola in 2001 when I heard that there was a vacancy for a Composite Machinist at what was then British American Racing. I applied, got the job and have been working for the team ever since.

Q. My job, on a day-to-day basis, is…

My role at the team is to digitise the templates and cut out the shapes of our carbon fibre car parts. The designs and layout manuals are sent down by the designers in the DO (Design Office) to the laminators who make the templates from a mould and send them onto me.

I then digitally trace around the shape by hand in a process which is called digitising. This image is then programmed into the cutter and I manipulate the templates so that they are in the correct orientation with the right sequence so that the laminators can match the kit with the layout manual. Once the shapes are cut, I pass these back to laminators who turn the basic shapes into the brand new parts you see on the car at the races.

Q. What I like about working in F1 is…

I love the intensity of our sport and the pressure to perform to my maximum ability to make sure that I’m not letting the team around me down. Each stage in the design and manufacture of the car is so crucial and you are constantly aware of the importance of your particular job.

Q. The best thing about working for MERCEDES GP PETRONAS is…

Having your opinions listened to. I have a top notch team around me and I wouldn’t want to work for any other team!

Q. The most challenging aspect of my work is…

To produce the required shapes as quickly as possible. Although the digitised image is produced to a very accurate level, there can always be an element of human error, therefore you have to be vigilant and make constant tweaks and manipulations throughout the process. The job can become very time consuming and attention to the smallest details is crucial.

The biggest single challenge that I have faced was during the build up to this year’s Monaco Grand Prix. We had a brand new suspension update which was extremely detailed. There were three different types of wishbone to be cut and a big wheel base change. This involved many different layers of carbon which increased the pressure on us but we managed to get the job completed just in time!

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