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Formula One Factories: Honda & Super Aguri

Formula One Factories: Honda & Super Aguri

Honda Brackley FactoryContinuing our series of Formula One factories, this week sees us visit two closely related buildings as they are owned by the same company, Honda. The factory team for which Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello drive for came from the transformation of BAR in 2005, which in turn came from Ken Tyrrell’s former squad. Tyrrell based his efforts at Ockham in Surrey, but the BAR buy out saw the team move to Brackley in Oxfordshire, just ten minutes up the road from Silverstone and not too far from their second team’s factory.

The front offices at the Brackley factory are probably some of the more pleasant buildings to house a Formula One team, surrounded by landscaped gardens the place has an air of calm about it. Or at least, it does in the official photographs and upon first sight. However, moving around the grounds and away from the front presentation area, the buildings take on a more utilitarian shape. As shown in the images on Shaun’s Bicester Blog, the back buildings resemble an old worn out college (specifically my old haunt, Brooklands) and look as though they haven’t been cared for in quite a while. However, inside the factory everything is pristinely clean and reasonably spacious. British American Tobacco’s investment in the facility in the early 2000s has paid off and Brackley is a very well equipped building to construct Formula One cars.

Click to view the Honda’s Brackley factory in Google Maps.

Leafield Technical Centre - Copyright: SA MathiesonSuper Aguri, a satellite team of Honda, are based at the Leafield factory, formerly owned by Arrows racing and not too far from Brackley. It is thought the squad got the facilities on the cheap when the team were hastily being put together for the 2006 season and have a signed lease up until the end of 2008. At this point rumours have suggested moving in with Honda to building an entirely new facility to house both squads. It is likely though that Aguri will remain at Leafield for the time being. Originally the team were even going to use a 2002 Arrows chassis as the basis for their own car, but have since developed their own car and then in 2007 they chose to use the old Honda RA106 chassis instead.

The Leafield Technical Centre, situated in Oxfordshire, isn’t quite as advanced as Brackley, but it serves its purpose well, especially given that the efforts of both teams are often combined, utilising both factories and staff. In fact, the building looks more like a large house on first impressions, with a peaked roof and hedgerows lining the outer wall. The building only houses 160 or so staff, and is by no means considered large, but it is a good addition to the Honda family and the team use what they have very effectively. Super Aguri claimed four points in 2007 (to Honda’s six), and for most of the year looked more competitive then the factory team. Thus, leading to the conclusion that it isn’t necessarily the size of the factory that counts.

And from looking at the photograph above, the factory is clearly dwarfed by the surrounding trees and telecommunication masts. Although, much like Brackley’s front offices, it does indeed look like a very nice place to work.

Click to view Super Aguri’s Leafield Technical Centre in Google Maps.

Photo Copyright © Honda F1 Team (top) and SA Mathieson (bottom).

Oliver White

7 comments

  • Thanks for the link (this has been reciprocated) to my site featuring the out-buildings at the Honda factory Oliver.

    They were taken last year by my Dad – he remembers watching Stirling Moss, you know – but since these pictures were taken the ugly outage buildings have been pulled down to make way for a visitors centre or something.

    Keep up the good work on the site and i will certainly be checking it out on a regular basis.Not long now till they blast off in March, oh yeah!.

  • Oliver, if you pop seven miles down the road, you’ll find the Force India factory (follow the signs for Silverstone, but turn right instead of left at the main entrance).

    I remember seeing the Honda (then BAR) factory as the bus I was on went past on the way to Reading in 2003. I thought “very swish!” as I saw the shiny outer surfaces, but if I’d known the other side of it looked like the local council scrapyard, maybe I wouldn’t have got so excited…

  • Thanks Ali. Yeah, Silverstone is along the F1 corridor so It’ll probably be included, although I’ll always consider it the Jordan factory until another team spends more then ten minutes there!

    And I hate travelling to Silverstone because of that nasty speed camera that crops up on the A43.

    If readers click Brackley’s Google Maps link in the post above and zoom out a bit (to about 50%), Silverstone is located North East of the Honda factory.

  • Good point, Oliver! I don’t know about the speed camera on the A43 because I’ve not been to Silverstone since 2002 (when that part of the A43 was still a building site). Hope you enjoy your little tour of the factories 🙂

  • I dare say you know where all the factories are Oliver; but just in case…

    The Williams factory is just outside Wantage; if you leave the Town on the Grove road.I pass it a couple of times a week if i’m out there on business.See if you can get the attention of Sir Frank by taking the mini roundabout opposite the entrance with plenty of speed, ha ha.

    The Renault factory is also local to me.It is based in the – well, middle of no-where.Just take the Woodstock road to a place called Enstone, and as you pass by the airfield – which is on your right [travelling from Bicester] – about two miles further on on your left you will see the blue Renault factory hidden in the picturesque countryside of the Cotsworlds.I often cycle pass it and have to shake my head in amazement at the thought of such fame and fortune produced from such a building which is kind-of…off the beaton track, so to speak.

    Anyway, good luck with the tour and i hope i’ve been some sort of help mate.

  • Thanks Shaun. I too have found it strange that Formula One, the pinnacle of international motor sport, is run out of some very strange and isolated buildings. BMW’s Hinwil factory is opposite an abattoir, Super Aguri’s are built in a bungalow and those crazy kids at Red Bull are located in Milton Keynes of all places.

    It’s not exactly glamorous, is it!?

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