Williams Advanced Engineering CentreThe new Williams Advanced Engineering Centre will help F1 accelerate the creation of high-tech road cars by providing a clear route from racetrack to road, promises Williams Group CEO Mike O’Driscoll.

Costing £8 million and with the capacity to house 250 engineers, it has been built next door to Williams’ F1 engineering centre and the door between the two buildings is (if you have the right pass card) always open, for good reason: the firm wants there to be no barriers between racetrack and road.

And it’s the potential for F1 to accelerate the answers to today’s road car priorities that O’Driscoll believes is the key advantage of the new Advanced Engineering Centre. The timing of it has been perfect.

“F1 has been focusing on energy efficient solutions for years,” he told MR. “It’s been doing it so long, it doesn’t even think about it. F1 is about maximum output for minimum input and most of its expertise – energy efficiency, aerodynamic efficiency, light weight, dynamics, electrification – has been driven forward with this in mind.

“The Advanced Engineering Centre is about commercialising all that learning and translating it into new operations.”

Mike O'Driscoll Group CEO Williams

O’Driscoll believes the centre has a particular advantage not only because F1 is so well advanced in such areas of automotive energy efficiency, but because it know how to deliver solutions in ultra-quick time. There’s none of the lethargy sometimes found in large road car companies: F1 is about finding the best solution as quickly as possible.

It’s because of this he sees “lots of untapped potential” for the centre to capitalise on.

Williams AEC: F1 consultancy for superminis

The Advanced Engineering Centre is not a division focused on seeking one headline project that will keep it busy for years (although the car that led to the creation of its new home, Jaguar’s C-X75, could have been exactly that…). It is about offering targeted F1-grade consultancy to OEMs who want to tap into F1 expertise in a clear, well-managed way.

Although the new building only officially opened today, it’s currently working on more than 100 projects: it’s been in operation for a few years now, working from spare offices and hot desks within Williams F1. Finally having a home to call its own reflects how the division has grown in just a few years, and O’Driscoll believes this is just the start.

Having the PM drop in to open the new division says it all: big things are expected from Williams’ new £8 million race-to-road consultancy division. Williams, an F1 team with engineering at its very core, has four decades of knowledge coursing through its corridors. Today, the marketplace for road car manufacturers to benefit from it opened. Many have little doubt it will become the success O’Driscoll believes it has the potential to be.