Monday, January 17, 2011

Formula 1 - Britains Greatest Export ... ?

News that Lotus are taking over the Renault F1 team has broken the hearts of French F1 fans - yup, if Renault win a GP this year (I said 'if') they'll be raising the Union Flag and playing 'God Save The Queen'. Lotus may be owned by Malaysian company Proton, but “Lotus is an English manufacturer,” Team Principal √Čric Boullier said after the launch of the team’s new livery at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham.

We will be running under a British licence now,” added the Frenchman, whose team factory is based at Enstone in central England.

Which makes me think about F1 in general: one sport, at least, where GB dominates the world. Look at the teams:
  • RBR-Renault
    Austrian owned company using Renault engines, but as they appreciate British engineering skills, they're based in Milton Keynes, Bucks. 
  • McLaren-Mercedes
    New Zealand originated but now British company, using a German Mercedes engine (it's a good unit) with two British World Champion drivers (Hamilton and Button) and based in Woking, Surrey.  
  • Ferrari
    Pure Italian. always has been, always will be otherwise there'll be riots in Milan.
  • Mercedes GP
    German team with two German drivers (as of 2010), Schumacher and Rosberg. Which makes you wonder why they're based in Brackley, Northants.
  • Renault
    Now Lotus-Renault, see above. Based Enstone, Oxfordshire.
  • Williams-Cosworth
    All-British team based in Grove, Oxfordshire.
  • Force India-Mercedes
    Indian-owned, German-engined, but based in Silverstone, Northants.
  • BMW Sauber-Ferrari
    German/Swiss/Italian team that don't matter as they'vre never won anything and probably never will. Races: 295. Wins: just 1.
  • STR-Ferrari
    Italian team that have won just 1 win from 89 Grand Prix.
  • Lotus-Cosworth
    Will now become 'Team Lotus', based at Hingham, Norfolk.
  • HRT-Cosworth
    Spanish-owned and -based team that uses British engines. Only 19 races under their belts so fairly new.
  • Virgin-Cosworth
    British engine, chassis and base, at Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Although part-owned now by Marussia, a Russian sports car company (yeah, I know.)
That's 12 teams - and 8 of them - two-thirds - based here in the UK.

Since 1958, a Swiss team (Red Bull) has won 1 Constructors Championship, French three times (Matra, Renault), Italian 16 (Ferrari, of course) but British teams have notched up 33 Championships (Williams, McClaren, Lotus, Cooper, Brabham, Vanwall, BRM, Tyrell, Benetton and Brawn).

And in the same period GB has notched up 10 different World Champions - the nearest other nations are Brazil with 3 and Germany with 2. The Brits are Jackie Stewart (3), Jim Clark (2), Graham Hill (2), Mike Hawthorn (1), John Surtees (1), James Hunt (1), Nigel Mansell (1), Damon Hill (1), Lewis Hamilton (1) and Jenson Button (1).

F1 a Global Brand? Maybe.

British engineering and British drivers leading the way?

For sure.