A composite is when two materials are put together to create a ‘hybrid’ material. This would be done to improve strength and/or performance. Carbon fibre is a composite and successfully used to create a Formula 1 car; it’s strong and lightweight. The composites department will create a part from carbon fibre using a mould, and then it will be placed in a bag and have the air removed from it, and then it’s ‘cured’ or ‘baked’ in the autoclave (a special oven) which makes it very strong and hard and gives a solid surface to work with. From here it will go for inspection and testing before it’s used on the car.
If you’re thinking of working in Composites in F1, there are a few things to consider, and it’s a good idea to check that a career in Composites matches your interests and skills. Hopefully the following information will help you when it comes to deciding on the right career path for you.
Disclaimer – the information below is not intended to be a replacement for professional careers advice.
You will have a keen interest in manufacturing, technology and engineering.
- You will work well under pressure and enjoy working to tight deadlines.
- You will enjoy working to the highest standards, with superb attention to detail and accuracy.
- You are likely to be competitive, enjoy problem-solving, and want to be the best you can be.
- You will have good communication skills and enjoy talking and interacting with others.
- You’re a team player, but can also work equally well on your own.
TYPICAL ROLES IN THE COMPOSITES DEPARTMENT
There are a variety of roles available within a Composites department of a Formula 1 team. These might include:
- Composites Technician This type of role will typically involve producing race car components from drawings. This involves laminating using a mould, vacuum packing the component, curing it in an autoclave, finishing it off, and the sending the finished component to be inspected.
WHAT TO STUDY
Listed below are some study paths you could consider. However please make sure you also speak with your school/college/University careers advisor who will be able to provide help and support to you during this important time.
Subjects that would be of benefit include:
Apprenticeships are for school leavers to enable them to combine work with study. Apprentices essentially learn on the job, and receive a qualification at the end of their placement. There are many exciting apprenticeships available throughout the Formula 1 teams.
Many teams offer apprenticeship opportunities in the Composites department, and vacancies are announced throughout the year. Please keep an eye on the social media channels for the teams as this is a common way to announce them.
If, after leaving school, you’d like to go on to study for your A Levels, here are some subject ideas. As always, please speak with your careers advisor before making any firm decisions.
If you intend to go to University, please check with the admissions department of your preferred University to ensure that the A Level subjects you choose are acceptable for the course you wish to take, before you choose which A Levels you’d like to do.
Further information on choosing the right A Levels for your future aspirations can be found here: https://www.russellgroup.ac.uk/for-students/school-and-college-in-the-uk/subject-choices-at-school-and-college/
If you are interested in a career in Composites, there are a few ways you could achieve this. Although a University degree is not essential, there are a selection of University courses that may be of benefit to you if this is the route you wish to go down.
University Courses to consider (in no particular order):
University of Plymouth – Mechanical Engineering with Composites
University of Southampton – Mechanical Engineering
University of Bristol – Mechanical Engineering
Loughborough University – Mechanical Engineering
Swansea University – Mechanical Engineering
Oxford Brookes University – Mechanical Engineering
University of Wolverhampton – Mechanical Engineering
Universities and Colleges Admissions Service
The Student Room
Materials Used in Formula 1 CarsA Formula 1 Car as a Carbon Fibre Cake
BOOKS RELATING TO COMPOSITES
Travelling Composite Technician
Formula 1 Team
“When I am travelling we are responsible for making sure all bodywork and wings are in the best condition they can be in order to extract the best performance and keep the car looking at its best. Any damage from running sessions needs to be repaired either during the session or after session. It is a high pressure situation as you are always against the clock.” Keep reading…