The continuous challenge of facility enhancement is an issue that many racing teams have either encountered in recent times or are presently dealing with straightforwardly. A prime example of such sonorous efforts exists in Aston Martin, whose Silverstone factory, first established for the inception of the original Jordan team back in 1991, had long surpassed its utility period. The man behind its revitalization, owner Lawrence Stroll, brought the necessary capital and commitment to invest in an adjacent property, erect an entirely fresh building, and subsequently bulldoze the old structure to make more room for the following phases of the project.
There are high expectations that post-completion, the Aston base will eclipse the facilities of any other existing team. This confidence is based on the premise that the new facility was designed and built from the ground up to meet 2020’s specifications without any compromises. However, various other teams have chosen to follow a path of gradual development, expansion, and general upgrading of infrastructure that stemmed from a different era.
Red Bull, for instance, starting from a humble infrastructural root that was the ex-Stewart/Jaguar facility, has expanded into a campus. This feat was achieved by obtaining neighbouring properties and constructing new buildings, most notably for its growing Powertrains division. Mercedes has also made significant alterations to its site that were originally created as BAR’s home base for the 1999 season.
Such infrastructural transformations are by no means easy. The challenges extend beyond the simple issue of space. Teams must work within a cost cap reality while complying with planning and construction rules that deal with aspects like sustainability and environmental impacts.
The well-being of the personnel is a significant aspect that teams have to consider. Over the years, standards have shifted, and teams now have to provide the best possible working environment or risk losing personnel to local competition who may offer more benefits. Like Red Bull and Mercedes, Alpine is making an earnest effort with their prevailing base, which began as Benetton‘s home in the early nineties.
The responsibility of managing and updating the Enstone site rests on Rob White, the operations director. Known best for his former role as the head of the engine division in Viry, White was heavily involved in the development of the championship-winning engines, from the V10 to the V8, and the early V6 hybrids. His role changed a couple of years ago when a structural shift prompted his relocation to a different role at the UK headquarters.
“Before we came, the site had been a quarry,” White reminisces on the past of Enstone. The initial use of the site involved light industrial applications, manufacturing items like pre-cast concrete structures and bunkers. However, by the time Benetton acquired the site, it had been left deserted. White claims that the site’s current state is a strong indicator of the owners’ commitment to getting the team into a good competitive shape.
Within this simplistic rural locale in Oxfordshire, Alpine is making the best out of its existing site by discovering space for newer infrastructural additions. Managing this with efficacy while making the site a desirable area for the best professionals to work in is one of the primary tools to achieve Alpine‘s ambitions. Rob White emphasises the necessity of their team’s determination, ambition, and performance at the right level in every discipline to ensure a sustainable future and return to their desired performance level. Ultimately, they need to look after their people and form a team that cares for each other to reach the correct level in Formula 1.