Prime minister David Cameron has today opened Williams Racing’s new £8 million Advanced Engineering Centre in Grove, Oxford.
The new facility will help transfer Williams’ four decades of title-winning F1 expertise into the world of road cars – and the PM has challenged the engineers working there to continue helping Britain compete on the world stage by developing new business opportunities.
Speaking of the growth from nations such as China and India, the PM said he asked himself, “how can Britain be a success story? By playing to our strengths – and this is a classic example.”
F1, he explained, is a success story the country should be proud of: “Eight of the 11 F1 teams are based here, 41,000 work in the industry in Oxfordshire alone, and there are 4,300 small and medium-sized enterprises based here supplying the F1 industry. It really is success story we should celebrate.
“Whenever I watch Formula 1, I think of this British success story – no matter what the car, no matter what the driver.”
That’s how comprehensively Britain dominates the sport.
Williams’ new Advanced Engineering Centre is charged with taking the knowledge that’s delivered such success into the world of road cars by providing consultancy services to car manufacturers.
Sharing a stage with Williams founder Frank Williams and the PM, Williams Group chief executive officer Mike O’Driscoll said that F1 is at the heart of most technological progress both in Britain and the world. Williams, with its multiple titles and 114 race wins, has been at the heart of that for 40 years.
“Frank Williams and Patrick Head laid the groundwork for potential in the future. With this new division, we will transfer that to the marketplace.”
The new Williams Advanced Engineering Centre has been built next door to the Williams Martin Racing F1 team. The 3,800m sq facility is the product of an £8 million investment and has taken two years to construct.
Up to 250 engineers can work there, using facilities including a ground floor workshop fitted with F1-standard bays, research and development suites, and a number of confidential rooms where projects can be worked on “in complete secrecy – vital given the nature of Williams Advanced Engineering’s client base”.
On display during the opening were several projects Williams Advanced Engineering has been working on since the new division was formed in 2011. These include the Jaguar C-X75, which was actually its first project, plus the Formula E race car and Nissan’s GT-R Nismo Time Attack car, which recently grabbed the Nurburgring Nordschleife lap record.
Crucially, the Williams Advanced Engineers can also knowledge-share with the F1 team, and even have use of the F1 wind tunnel. An engineer told us few other facilities have such a broad scope as Williams’ new centre: it can analyse projects using computer modeling software, test them in the wind tunnel, test them using F1 processes and deliver them ultra-quickly using F1-level procedures.
“F1 experience forms the groundwork (of this new division) and this is what will hopefully help us deliver something unique to clients.”