Nightshift Composite Technician
Renault DP World F1 Team
Due to the current global uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 and the interruption to studies for so many students, we decided to reach out to the F1 family for some motivation and inspiration.
Here they share their experiences about their own route into the industry, and their life during lockdown.
— What is your name and job title?
My name is Darren Ward and I am a Nightshift Composite technician for the Renault DP World F1 Team
— Could you give me a summary of your job role?
My main role within the composite department is to run various 3 and 5 axis machines. I can be machining small inserts one day to a full chassis the next. I am also a fully qualified patternmaker and can also laminate and trim and fit components should we hit a quiet point on the machining front.
— What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a mechanic when I was growing up. I’ve always been good when it comes to using my hands and interested in engineering as a whole.
— When did you know you wanted to work in Formula 1?
I don’t think I ever thought about working in Formula 1 until the opportunity came along. I was working at Rover Group in Cowley, Oxfordshire when a friend contacted me to say that the Arrows F1 team were looking for people. So, in July of 1999 I took my first steps into the world of F1. In 2002 the Arrows team folded and on 3rd January 2003 I started at the then Renault F1 Team and have been there ever since.
— What’s the best thing about your job?
As a nightshift worker the best bit is the people, we are a small group and all work well together.
As far as the job goes, I love the challenge each season brings. New parts, new machining ideas and still trying to produce the best possible part we can on forever developing parts.
— What subjects and courses did you take?
I took GCSE’s of which only CDT was relevant to my future profession. I then did a 4 year apprenticeship at Rover Group which gave me city and guilds in patternmaking and was regarded as one of the best apprenticeships around at the time.
— Did you do any work experience?
I didn’t do any work experience that was relevant to my career but before I left Rover they started to move into Carbon panels for quality and inspection purposes. This Gave me a taste of laminating before I stepped into F1.
— What has been your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced has been my belief in myself. I’m very critical of myself and always striving for perfection. Things will and do go wrong and it’s how you deal with them that helps everything move forward.
— What was the best thing you ever did to help you get to where you are today?
When I moved onto the machines in 2009 I worked with 3 different operators over a 3 month period. I took the best notes possible, asked as many questions as I could to give the best base information I could get. They were all good teachers and had different ways of doing things so I had to use everything I learned and find what was best for me. 11 years on my notes are still used to instruct new starters and contractors that come to work with us.
— Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have had their studies interrupted and are unsure of how it will affect them in the future. Are there any words of advice or inspiration you can share during such a challenging time?
The only advice I can give is to use any resources you have at your disposal and learn. Do research yourself (google is a wonderful tool) and show that even in this tough time you are still willing to learn and advance yourself.
— How are you coping with the lockdown?
Lockdown has been mixed. Some days are full of motivation and getting jobs done around the house and garden with the fine weather. Other days can be very hard knowing we can’t take our son Easter egg hunting at national trust places as we would normally every year. It’s finding the balance of keeping busy and enjoying family time but most of all it’s about staying safe ready for the normality to return.
Thank you Darren for sharing your journey with us!