PEOPLE: BRIAN O'ROURKE
Name: Brian O'Rourke
Nationality: Great Britain
One of the team's most senior engineers at Williams F1 is Brian O'Rourke, a composite structures expert who was recruited from the aerospace industry by Williams back in 1982 when composite materials technology was just starting out in F1. O'Rourke was a good catch. He was a qualified and experienced aeronautical engineer who had also worked in the United States with Northrop, one of the leading players in the American military aircraft industry, and a pioneer in the construction of composite machinery. O'Rourke worked on the design of the F/A18 fighter-bomber, although Northrop has since gone on to apply its composites knowledge to the construction of the virtually undetectable B2 Stealth Bomber.
O'Rourke's first job at Williams was to complete a structural study of the Metro 6R4 Group B rally car, which Williams was helping to develop for the Austin Rover Group, but as soon as the team had moved into its new state-of-the-art factory and installed a windtunnel and autoclave, O'Rourke's skill as a composite engineer was a great help to Williams as it built its first carbonfiber composite chassis - the FW10. This was the precursor of the FW11 and FW11B chassis which won the Constructors' Championships of 1986 and 1987.
In those early days at Williams O'Rourke worked with an exciting bunch of engineers, many of whom have since gone on to greater successes elsewhere: Ligier's technical director Frank Dernie; McLaren's chief designer Neil Oatley; and Benetton's and later Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn.