To the outside world, Formula 1 has been on holiday for the past fortnight since the teams packed up and left Hockenheim. A quick walk around Enstone, though, shows this could not be farther from the truth. The Oxfordshire countryside may seem...
To the outside world, Formula 1 has been on holiday for the past fortnight since the teams packed up and left Hockenheim. A quick walk around Enstone, though, shows this could not be farther from the truth.
The Oxfordshire countryside may seem quiet during the summer heatwave, but at the Whiteways Technical Centre in Enstone, the pace hasn't slackened all year. Summer 2003 has meant construction, as a raft of new facilities are being introduced at the Renault F1 Team's UK base. A case of making the most of a convenient three-week lull in racing?
"Not at all," commented Operations Director John Mardle. "The factory is always flat out, and any break in the schedules has to be very carefully planned a long time in advance. What we have managed to do this summer is complete a significant amount of work simultaneously to minimise disruption."
So, exactly what work is underway? The most noticeable addition has been the construction of a new logistics building for the team's race trucks. Inside the factory, too, a many new features have been introduced: "We have added 230m² of floorspace to our composites department, specifically for materials research," explains John.
"Equally, the re-location of the truck bay is allowing us to expand the machining capability for the model-making shop in the wind tunnel. We also have upgrades to our machining facilities within other areas of the factory, and have begun the installation of a gearbox dynamometer."
All in all, enough to mean that the 'break' has been something of an illusion for the Renault F1 Team. The new facilities are currently coming on-stream, and will all become operational as the R24 project swings into action this autumn. And what about the summer holidays? "Maybe next year…" smiles John.