Formula One facilities seem to have a habit of expanding into road-car factories and development centers. In Maranello, the Ferrari factory grew out of the Scuderia's operation. In Woking, the McLaren Production Centre sprung up alongside the existing McLaren Technology Centre that houses the F1 team. And now Williams Grand Prix Engineering has inaugurated the new Williams Advanced Engineering facility in Grove, Oxfordshire, UK.
Williams Grand Prix Engineering
As fast as tarmac and competing drivers can vanish behind you in Formula One racing, so can the unfortunate events of the past. In some cases, anyway. Flavio Briatore may still be banned from the sport due to his involvement in the Crashgate debacle, but Mike Coughlan is making short business of putting his scandal behind him, and returning to F1 racing in a big way.
Racing fans on either side of the Atlantic may be familiar with the name Mike Coughlan. The controversial engineer was at the heart of the Spygate scandal between the McLaren and Ferrari teams a few years back and was subsequently ejected from Formula One. While he was waiting for his banishment to expire, he came over to the U.S. where he was working for Michael Waltrip Racing in NASCAR. But as soon as his sentence was up, he was back in F1 with the Williams team. Trouble is, his contract with
Over the course of his nine seasons on the Formula One grid, Kimi Raikkonen only drove for a handful of teams, making his debut with Sauber before switching to McLaren in only his second season, then to Ferrari after five seasons for another three more that included his solitary World Championship. But since his departure two years ago, the Finnish driver has been linked to more teams than he ever drove for in the first place.
As far as racing disciplines go, Formula One and NASCAR are about as different as can be. They run entirely different kinds of cars, on different kinds of tracks, for different types of fans, from garages on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Recent years have seen a handful of F1 drivers trying their hand at stock car racing, but the latest clash of civilizations is set to play itself out not on the race track, but in the court room.
With all the money that goes into running an F1 team, and the limited opportunity to make any of it back, we can't see why anyone would view owning a team as a sound investment. Evidently Herr Toto Wollf feels otherwise, as the Austrian financier and gentleman racing driver has acquired a minority interest in Williams Grand Prix Engineering.