British PM hails Formula 1 success story
18 November, 2011
Nov.18 (Reuters) Prime Minister David Cameron held up Formula One as “an incredible British success story” on Thursday after formally opening McLaren’s new sportscar factory next to the grand prix team’s headquarters.
Accompanied by McLaren Group executive chairman Ron Dennis, Cameron toured a facility currently producing 10 to 12 of the exotic MP4-12C cars a week but which will eventually rise to 1,000 a year.
Cameron hailed the Woking company as “a powerful rebuke” to the view that Britain’s engineering and manufacturing power was in decline with its future more in buying from others than selling to them.
Formula One, with the emphasis on cutting-edge and ground-breaking technology, had shown how successful it could be.
“There is something that doesn’t get said often enough which is that Formula One is an incredible British success story,” declared Cameron.
“It’s not just every time Jenson (Button) or Lewis (Hamilton) crosses the winning line,” he said in a speech delivered to an audience including both the team’s world champion drivers.
“It’s actually that every time (Michael) Schumacher or (Rubens) Barrichello roars off the starting grid, they are doing so in cars built right here in Britain.
“Perhaps this is a point I’ll make to Chancellor Merkel when I see her tomorrow, something to break the ice,” joked Cameron, who will meet his German counterpart in Berlin on Friday to discuss the Euro zone debt crisis.
A majority of the 12 F1 teams are based in Britain, including Germany’s seven-times world champion Schumacher’s Mercedes GP and compatriot and current champion Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull.
McLaren are the second most successful team in Formula One, with 20 drivers and constructors’ titles and 175 race wins after Ferrari.
The sportscar factory, with its gleaming white tiles and pristine surfaces, puts McLaren on a level with Ferrari whose sportscar assembly line shares the same premises at Maranello as their Formula One team.
However, McLaren have also extended their brand into different areas, with McLaren Applied Technologies working on projects as diverse as pharmaceuticals, airport services, telemetry for Olympic teams and the cycle that took Mark Cavendish to the green jersey in the Tour de France.
McLaren Electronic Systems will next year provide engine control units to the three biggest series in motor racing – Formula One, Indy Car racing and NASCAR.
“The brand of McLaren has been forged in Formula One over decades,” said McLaren Racing managing director Jonathan Neale. “Clearly we are here today recognising that there has been another significant step in the brand.
“Brand extension and growth of the organisation is essential. What we are not about is brand diversification. Each one of our businesses competes on a global stage with the best in the world.
“What we are not about to do is get involved in something where we don’t think we can be world class at it…make no bones about it, McLaren is in it to win it.”