It’s not all about Formula 1 – Red Bull Advanced Technologies has widened its agenda
Exciting things are set to come out of Red Bull’s Milton Keynes facility
Red Bull doesn’t talk about its Formula 1 ‘factory’; instead, the Milton Keynes site is described as a ‘technology campus’. But that’s no pretentious exaggeration.
The expansion continues from what was originally a relatively humble base for Stewart Grand Prix in the late 1990s, with the new powertrain department the latest addition to the collection of Red Bull-branded buildings in the Tilbrook industrial estate.
It’s not finished yet, but it soon will be, creating an even greater premium for parking spaces as an extra 350-400 staff move into a site that’s already bursting at the seams.
It’s not all about F1 here, they tell us. Red Bull Advanced Technologies has widened the agenda, most famously with the Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar project.
But tour the campus and it’s obvious that F1 is precisely what this place is all about. Just check out the cool conference room and its almost complete circle of Red Bull racers from the past 17 seasons. This is what drives this facility, the collection representing the reason why all these people turn up here every day: to help two racing drivers complete the next grand prix as quickly as they can.
That’s what makes the company’s latest diverting tributary all the more intriguing.
We won’t see the Red Bull RB17 hypercar until 2024 at the earliest, but it’s already percolating in the mind of the team’s design visionary, Adrian Newey, who will pull out as many tricks as he can from his F1 cars to create a track-day weapon he promises will offer “significantly more performance” than the already astounding Valkyrie.
There’s room for improvement, apparently. All those compromises and inhibiting road-car regulations ultimately frustrated a man who has spent his professional life trying to work around an ever-tightening F1 rulebook. Now, as Red Bull team principal Christian Horner puts it, he will be “unleashed”.
Should we care? In our grim reality and on face value, it’s hard to get too worked up by a car that can only be used on a track and will cost 50 people a vulgar £5 million each.
Then again, were you at the Goodwood Festival of Speed at the weekend? Who found themselves transfixed by the hypercars being flung up the hill or the McMurty Automotive Spéirling threatening the laws of physics on its way to a new record? For so many of us, it was all such a tonic. Forget the world for an afternoon: this was just what we needed.
Which is why, when the RB17 appears, we won’t be able to tear our eyes off it. At that price, it’s not for us – except that’s exactly who it is for. Newey remains obsessed with his day job, but he feels a need to push the boundaries with this massive indulgence, simply to see what’s possible. And we will all be craning our necks to catch a glimpse of what he comes up with.
Should he be turning his genius to something that could make a real difference to our world? Well… yes, probably. But as uncomfortable and shallow as it sounds, I’m kind of glad that he isn’t. Aren’t you too?