VCARB revs up for growth with strategic move to Milton Keynes


VCARB team principal Laurent Mekies has confirmed the team’s plans to relocate a portion of its operations near Red Bull Racing’s campus in Milton Keynes, a move that will raise more strategic and competitive considerations within the Formula 1 landscape.

VCARB’s headquarters have historically always been located in Faenza, Italy. But over the years, the team has also operated a small facility in Bicester, a town nestled within the UK's "motorsport valley."

This facility primarily houses the team's wind tunnel operations, but the site has gradually become inadequate for a modern F1 outfit, both in size and infrastructure, hence its relocation to a dedicated facility that is currently being built in Milton Keynes.

“It is super simple. We have a very good facility in Faenza, where Franz [Tost – former VCARB team boss] has done a very good job to modernise the headquarters,” Mekies explained, quoted by Speedcafe.

“I think it was built in 2015 or 2016. We think that that is a good base to build upon.

“But we are not happy with what we have in Bicester today in terms of infrastructure. We don't think [it] puts our guys in the best possible position.

“It is simply because of the history of it. It was a very small facility that we've outgrown. We are there because we are using our wind tunnel, but that is not the case anymore,” he added.

“We have decided that the site is going to close.

“It is effectively the aero department, the concept department and a few other bits and pieces there, and it is going to be discontinued.

“Instead, we are building a brand-new headquarters in Milton Keynes, outside of the Red Bull campus, that is going to be a state-of-the-art facility, in the same way that we have high-level facilities in Faenza.”

The relocation to Milton Keynes is likely to raise eyebrows among rival teams already wary of the close ties between VCARB and Red Bull Racing.

McLaren in particular, through the voice of its CEO Zak Brown, has been highly critical of Red Bull’s dual ownership in F1 and of the subsequent alliance that governs the cooperation between its two teams.

Concerns have been raised that the close collaboration undermines the spirit of fair competition.
VCARB, however, maintains that the move is driven by a broader ambition.

According to Mekies, the new location not only fosters closer collaboration with Red Bull but also addresses VCARB's need for increased operational capacity. The team’s Faenza facility presents geographical challenges in attracting top-tier personnel, especially when compared to established motorsport hubs like Milton Keynes.

By establishing a presence in Milton Keynes, VCARB aims to overcome these limitations. The expanded floor space will facilitate the recruitment of UK-based talent, bolstering the team's overall competitiveness and furthering its aspirations.

“The plan is that people will move from Bicester to Milton Keynes, and in the new headquarters, we will have more capacity, meaning that we [can] take the opportunity to go in the market and get somebody who wants to stay in the UK, regardless of what the background is,” Mekies explained.

“It could be race engineers, simulation engineers or an aero and design guy. We want to think that it is now possible to get a single department split across two locations.

“Historically, it's been a huge downside in F1 to do that and there are not too many successful examples of it. We are conscious of that.

“We are not disregarding the history of it, we are just thinking that as the world has changed massively, it is not only technology, it is also people's mindsets.

“We are trying to make that work and think we could turn it into an advantage.

“We've got people in because they wanted to be in Italy and we've got people in because they wanted to be in the UK – we want to play it as a strength instead of a weakness.”

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