I recently had an interesting trip up to Milton Keynes for a tour of Red Bull F1’s facility.  As you would expect given F1’s fondness for industrial espionage, security was tight. No cameras were allowed and all phones had their camera function disabled.  Our escorted tour initially took us around the design offices. These were open plan for all to enhance team working, though Messrs  Horner and Newey had their own huge offices. Presumably they don’t need to work in teams.. Interestingly there were three times as many aerodynamasists as there were other engineers.

Moving from area to area via touch sensitive security key pads we were constantly told about what a relaxed and friendly team Red Bull were compared to other teams. The demeanour of the people we met did not suggest that was necessarily the case. Sure, whilst the extreme dress down of the staff and the slight untidiness about the place would bring on palpitations in Ron Dennis, you get the impression that beneath the “hey, aren’t we fun” persona there is a degree of steely and ruthless determination. No bad thing in F1. You don’t win four consecutive F1 titles by being relaxed.

Formerly the home of Jaguar Racing and prior to that Stewart GP, Red Bull’s Milton Keynes HQ still accomodates people who worked for those teams, albeit in a facility now eight times bigger.

Unfortunately when we visited the race bays the current cars were out with only some reliveried older cars on show. I guess they didn’t want us to see the new aero screens shown this week at Sochi.

 

This vertically displayed show car highlights the new Red Bull matt paint finish. I tend to dislike matt paint finishes but it certainly seems to suit the Red Bulls.  Apparently Red Bull repaint the cars for each race to suit the expected climate and light conditions. That way the sponsors’ logos always look the same on TV wherever the cars are in the world and whether the race is a night race or day race. Great attention to detail.

 

 

The vast trophy cabinet on display in the reception of Red Bull F1. The drivers are not allowed to keep their trophies and must hand them over to the team. Red Bull are also so paranoid about their IP they throw nothing away nor do they sell any of their old cars. 

 

The Red Bull trial visor. It looks okay, does not seem to interfere too much with access and if it increases safety surely a good idea?

Red Bull seem to be doing much better this year. Apparently the new Renault engine is putting out substantially more horsepower than last year. You will not, however,  see the name of the engine builder on the side of the Red Bulls, their place having been taken by the wings of Aston Martin.

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John Surtees is almost the forgotten man of British F1. The only man to win the World Championship on two wheels and four, unlike Sir Jackie and Sir Stirling he still lacks a knighthood despite his achievements and his work for charity.

Surtees won his seven motor cycle world championships racing for Italian manufacturer MV Augusta at a time when the championship included the daunting Isle of Man TT, an event he won three times. When he was 26 he switched to racing cars making his debut with Lotus. But he is best remembered on four wheels for winning the 1964 World Championship with Ferrari. After he left Ferrari he briefly raced for Honda before founding his own team in 1970. His greatest success as a team owner was winning the F2 Championship in 1972, his winning car being driven by fellow ex Motor Cycle champion Mike Hailwood. He folded his team in 1978 to concentrate on other interests. His son Henry was also a promising racer tragically killed in a freak accident during a F2 race in 2009. Since then Surtees has concentrated his efforts on the Henry Surtees Foundation, that raises money for those afflicted with brain injuries, and also on encouraging young drivers to make the step up to professional motor sport.

Surtees was one of the principal guests at Autosport International and he and others assembled for display a fine collection of the cars he raced and built. His championship winning Ferrari in particular is a rare sight in the UK, usually residing in California. As this is the 50th anniversary of Surtees’ F1 World Championship the cars are touring the country. Catch them at Mercedes Benz World, Brooklands in June. And join the campaign to get John the knighthood he so richly deserves..

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Championship winning Ferrari 158 – rare UK visitor

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immaculate Team Surtees cars – iconic 70’s racers

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One of my favourite liveries as a boy – a racing car with my preferred toy car manufacturer emblazoned on the nose. Certainly more attractive than the later Team Surtees Durex sponsored cars..