Pablo Romero Núñez: F1 Composite Engineer

Pablo Romero Núñez is an incredibly talented and engaging Composite Design Engineer with experience working with top Formula One teams. In this interview, Pablo reflects on his incredible career and his time with Renault and McLaren.


Introduction

My name is Pablo and I’m from Cadiz, a beautiful place in the southwest of Spain. This is also where I am currently based as the current situation worldwide made me take the decision to come back home for a while and enjoy spending time with family and friends after 8 years living abroad.

I have been a Composite Design Engineer since I started working 6 years ago in a small company in Italy and have since worked for both Renault and McLaren.

Education

I was always a technical and analytical boy since school, so that drove me towards engineering (naturally). At University I studied Electronics Engineering in Sevilla, but as I was approaching the end of my degree I decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do for my career.

I decided to chase a career in F1 when I realized an engineer could actually make a living designing F1 cars. This realisation happened whilst I was in Denmark completing a degree in Mechanical Engineering and found myself looking at different options for my masters. I completed my masters at Oxford Brookes University (UK) where a lot of doors opened to me.

Chasing the F1 dream

I got my first job in February 2016 at a small consultancy company in Italy where I got involved with production jigs and tools for Automobili Lamborghini.

Right after, I went back to the UK to start working at Saietta on a composite chassis for an Isle of Man prototype motorcycle for a year and a half but that project never saw the light as the company changed direction at the time and cut the budget to finish it off.

Reaching the pinnacle of Motorsport

My breakthrough moment into motorsport occurred when I received the call from Renault to do my first “informal interview”. I applied online through their website and received the call months after. I already knew people who worked at Renault so I knew the company culture, so it all went well and I got a formal interview with the Head of Composites at the time who gave me the job.

I worked with Renault F1 for two years. Those two years were really important for my professional growth, the learning and development curves were huge!

My personal and professional circumstances changed, and with my skills set perfectly refined, I decided to take a leap of faith and leave Renault without a job and jump straight into the contracting ocean. I took this step as both a personal challenge and a step forward in engineering.

As the notice periods in F1 are long, I had 6 months to find a contract and luckily enough I landed in the marvelous MTC working for McLaren Racing, “the mother ship of engineering” as I heard someone once referring to it.

I was there for the 2019/2020 winter supporting the composites group and involved with monocoque and bodywork projects. It was amazing to see them finish on P3 in 2020!

Right after, I had to take a break due to the Covid pandemic and didn’t do any work until September 2020 when I started working at Gordon Murray Design, involved in the T50 project, not motorsport but almost!

Composite Design Engineer

Being a Composite Design Engineer means you are responsible for delivering drawings and designs to production or suppliers on time for them to manufacture the parts andto get them to the track for planned events. As you can guess it’s all about time here!

Usually, we get the CAD surfaces with the shapes the aero department wants for specific areas of the car and we need to adapt them to suit the full-scale car, the real thing. This means looking after composite laminates, bonded assemblies, bolts threads, clearances, clashes, installations and depending on the team liaison within the race team to solve queries about the parts installation, durability or maintenance.

Also we need to define the repairs that need to be done after race events, as numerous parts get damage every week.

The best part of my role is the excitement of working against the clock and putting yourself at peak performance constantly. You can’t get this in any other industry and it is quite addictive!

It’s all about the excitement of racing, it’s satisfying when the drivers do a good result because the car is faster thanks to an upgrade you’ve been working on for the last weeks.

Proudest F1 memories

My proudest moment with Renault is when I got a full front wing bonded assembly to model and split from aero with almost no experience doing this, and I managed to do a good job allowing my colleagues to develop tooling and laminates to manufacture these parts for the first time (and without delays).

Also when we beat Haas for the P4 was very satisfying, there was drama!

My proudest moment with McLaren is actually when the chassis Team leader gave me his total trust and involved me fully with the projects despite being there for only 6 months. At that moment I felt that all my previous efforts were paying off and I was a fully independent professional.

I would say my greatest achievement is the fact of being able to work independently for different companies at full performance to the highest level of motorsport. Knowing that you can work for any motorsport, automotive, or aerospace company and you already got the background so people will trust you is a huge privilege.

Advice to Aspiring Engineers

My education was key but longer than needed as I studied Electronics which complicated things a little bit as my background wasn’t “natural”. I’d say getting involved with motorsport as soon as possible is the quickest way to get into this world, maybe by doing FSAE or weekends with a junior team in smaller categories such as F4 or F3.

Learn, learn, learn and learn. Get your head full of information, data, and examples so you improve your ability to make the right decision at the right time and implement it as quickly as possible. At the end of the day life, in general, is about this.


A massive thank you to Pablo for sharing his wealth of knowledge with everyone at Motorsport Engineer!


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