Red Bull are a very successful team, we all know that. With both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ World Championship titles under their belt from 2010, the team can rightly pat themselves on the back.
So, when Badger was offered the opportunity to have a poke around the Red Bull factory in Milton Keynes, we jumped at the chance. Jumped, bounded, soared and bounced in fact. So now, with only a couple of sleeps to Christmas, Badger’s Advent Calendar brings you an exclusive look at behind the scenes…
After an early start and a trip on a coach, we found ourselves on an industrial estate in snowy Milton Keynes. Not necessarily where you expect to find a team of such global renown, but we went with it. They must know what they’re doing.
The buildings themselves, while decked out in Red Bull livery, look a lot like standard industrial estate fare. However, instead of containing a company making plastic mouldings for Japanese washing machines, these buildings contained something far more interesting.
The reception area features a large array of trophies from this year and last and, rather strangely, the BBC East Team of the Year 2010 award. Not one of their more prestigious trophies, a small glass number, it just looks very out of place.
However, the real star of the show is the F1 car hanging from the wall, nose down. Perhaps an homage to Mark Webber’s enormous crash in Valencia?
After having got inside the building and partaken of some light refreshment (unfortunately no special sugar a la Ferrari), we were given a presentation about the history of Red Bull, their progress from the Jaguar team and their highlights of the season just gone. It also contained the first reference of the day to Adrian Newey as “The Genius”, although whether this is a contractual obligation or just plain adoration is unclear.
Unsurprisingly, the presentation was a very slick affair, which contained the information that, with the team struggling to get all their equipment into Monaco’s tiny streets this year, they built their Energy Station (fancy transportable building) in Italy and then floated it round into the Harbour. Show offs.
After we’d had the presentation, it was on to lunch. We won’t dwell on this, apart from to say that it was delicious and that we had two helpings. We probably could have had more too, but there’s appreciation and then there’s gluttony.
Next was the main task of the day – the tour. We were told beforehand that, although the team used to be more relaxed about it, since they’ve “started winning” they’ve become a lot more sensitive about photographs. All quite understandable, but annoying nevertheless.
We started off walking through their design area, which contained about 180 people in a big open plan office. Fancy prototypes on computer screens – that sort of thing. We also got to walk past Adrian Newey’s office and see his drawing board. According to the team representative who was with us, he always draws by hand first and then it gets transferred to computer later. Legend.
From then on, we delved into the depths of the factory, which is larger than you could possibly imagine. It’s very easy to think of Formula One teams merely in terms of the slick operations they run but, like an iceberg, there’s a lot more underneath.
The factory area smelt like the technology lab at Secondary School, but that’s very much where the similarities ended. There were people wandering round in white coats, space age machinery humming away, lasers shaping resin for prototype parts, “clean” rooms with no dust and a lot more besides. However much it costs, it must be a lot. Thank goodness for very popular energy drinks.
We were also shown the race control centre in the factory, which did in fact look a lot like a mini NASA control room (well, those we’ve seen in films, anyway). It contained four rows of desks facing three very large plasma television screens and is the place where, during the race, crucial decisions get made. An extension of the pit wall, Badger can only imagine how utterly superb it would be to get into see it in action. Hint hint. Nudge nudge.
On a more general note and quite apart from all the James Bond stuff, the one thing that really struck home was the unfailing courtesy of the staff and the nice atmosphere that pervaded the place. Whatever Red Bull are doing, they’re doing something right. (Yes, we know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s true).
We wouldn’t bet against them next season, would you?
- With thanks to Pepe Jeans for the fantastic organisation and execution of the trip.
- Thanks also to Red Bull for their hospitality and lovely food.
- Lastly, thanks to Ant Hot Wheels for the wide variety of mad (and not so mad) photos he took. (That man’s moustache is a work of art.)
A couple more photos from our trip to Red Bull Racing: