Not down or out

With reference to ‘Hitting the skids’ (Comment, 18 May). About 85 per cent of my business is motorsport with about 75 per cent of that being within Formula One (F1).


With reference to Hitting the skids (Comment, 18 May).

About 85 per cent of my business is motorsport with about 75 per cent of that being within Formula One (F1).

There is undoubtedly a reduction in budgets within F1 to the extent where they are almost self-regulating.

The fragility of global markets creates a whole world of insecurities for team sponsors, whether they are banks, airlines or any of the diverse corporates involved in this business, as we all know these are tough times.

In preparation for the 2009 F1 season, we have seen a significant reduction in volumes of both components and a reduction in the extravagance of materials used.

While the initial downturn is of some concern, I would maintain that the future is still bright.

We have found that engineers within F1 teams want to use our specialist knowledge more — they want to maximise the materials’ performance by developing processes and techniques.

Engineers, especially UK ones, are outstandingly resourceful and the fact that their R&D budgets have reduced, that their exotic materials are not so readily available without full justification, and that their track time has been restricted does not mean that they cease to be good engineers.

What it means is that they will be more creative. What it also means is that the good engineers will become better engineers — they will push themselves and their suppliers to obtain the results they need in order to restore performance, and, as suppliers, we need to respond to these demands.

During these difficult times, we are developing new equipment with new technologies as a leap of faith. It’s no use hoping the orders will come in — we have to drive the need and take it to the market.

As we diversify to fill the short-term gap, I find many companies I am in discussion with using this slowdown as an opportunity to develop their products and services. Undoubtedly, there is a huge downturn in the automotive market at the retail end, but I am sure at the development end they are still pressing on, as they all know the market will come back to them and they have to be prepared and more competitive than ever when it does.

I also see a strong level of engineering entrepreneurship. It seems every week I am approached by engineers with novel ideas — often individuals or groups of individuals that have been made redundant, who are using the time to work on ideas and create their own opportunities — for simple engineering projects to multi-discipline, high-level technologies. This growth may not be measurable yet, and it may not be evident financially, but the seeds are being sown.

The UK motor-racing industry is not down but merely taking a breather while it regroups and returns with a vengeance. I sincerely hope the rest of the UK engineering sector is doing the same.

Colin McGrory, Towcester