Shane O’Callaghan

Composite Laminates Inspector
Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One 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?

Shane O’Callaghan.

— Could you give me a summary of your job role?

Composite inspection

— What’s the best thing about your job?

Being part of a 6 times world championship-winning formula one team.

— What did you want to be when you grew up?

Landscape/interior designer

When did you know you wanted to work in Formula 1?

It was 1989, I had just finished high school in Norfolk, and was looking for a summer job before starting college.  I was wanting to continue my A levels and move onto bigger and better things in interior and exterior design.

However things were to change very soon, by August of 89 I was earning some money with a small company called “Composite Wings LTD “ in Shipdham, Norfolk.  I was due to go to college and start my courses in  September, but the earning of income and the interest in sportscar and different Formulas changed my Path.

By the October that same year the company had bought new premises and wanted me as a young man to stay with them and continue in the Manufacture of Race Car rear and Front wings, along with many other products.  At the age of 18 I was already promoted to Composite Supervisor, and later in 1992 to Composites Production Manager of the company.  I was involved in many projects with composite wings and travelled to circuits around the UK and overseas, whilst with Composite wings I was involved in Le Mans 24 hrs with Kremer Racing (Germany) as Composites Support, Tim Allens RRR Speedlab from the USA, Ray Mallock and BRM.

Around 1999 I was headhunted and offered a great opportunity to own and run my own composites company.  This challenge I took and set up Somers Composites Ltd, things had been great for 18months until my business partner decided it’s not for him.  With that, I returned to Composite Wings for another 2 years as their general manager to help support them through troubled times however during this time I was involved in the manufacture of then Europe’s tallest sculpture “ The Irish Wave “ situated in Dublin’s Parkwest Area.

Around 2001 I was offered a new challenge at Racing Technology Norfolk ( Team Bentley ) as a Composites Supervisor.  We were involved with Audi and Bentley and were owned by VAG group, building Le Mans Cars and successfully winning Le Mans 24hrs race, winning Paris Dakar with VW and their Tourag project, also Audi and their DTM projects.  With the knowledge that Audi were wanting the sale of the company, my interest turned to Formula One.

2006 started my career in Switzerland with BMW Sauber Formula One team as a senior Composite Technician and Laminator.  Life in Switzerland was amazing, and the team was growing and becoming very successful until BMW pulled out of F1.  My time in Switzerland came to an end in 2011, with a short spell at KS Composites in Leicestershire as Composites Manager before I started a new role at Mercedes Petronas AMG Formula One Team as a Laminator in 2012.

8 years later I’m now a Composites Laminate Inspector with 6 double World Championships to bolster my CV. 😊

— What subjects and courses did you take?

During my working life I’ve picked up a huge amount of knowledge in composite materials and laminate techniques.

I’ve been involved in a few composite courses in the past, but back in 1989/1990 there wasn’t much in the way of available courses.

— Did you do any work experience along the way?

1989, 3 months at Composite Wings as a Trainee Laminator.

— What has been your biggest challenge?

The Irish Wave sculpture, and leaving my family to start a new life in Switzerland.

— What’s been the proudest moment on your journey so far?

My first world championship with Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team. The championship-winning party that year was amazing and made you really feel part of a great team.

What was the best thing you ever did to help you get to where you are today?

Most probably having the confidence in moving away to start a new life in another country.

— 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?

Keep studying, don’t let a virus get in the way of your dreams.  If there is something you really want then work hard, stay focused, and stay safe.

— How are you coping during this period of lockdown?

My lockdown also coincided with the FIA factory shutdown period.  The first 4 weeks had been very busy at home doing DIY jobs, home educating my children and gardening.  To prevent me from getting too subdued and bored I used my mountain bike to keep fit for an hour each day, and also started making garden furniture from recycled wood as a hobby.

— Any other advice you’d like to share?

Follow your dreams – working in Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport, so work hard and never give up.

 
 

Thank you Shane for sharing your journey with us!

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