Race against time

Formula 1 – or perhaps we should just say top-flight motorsport – is one of engineering’s global flagships, so its future has bigger implications than the world of sport.


The British Grand Prix may be over (sadly without a British winner) but the off-track jostling for position has only just begun. Formula 1 – or perhaps we should just say top-flight motorsport ­– is one of engineering’s global flagships, so its future has bigger implications than the world of sport. The big teams are planning a breakaway championship that would leave Formula 1 looking distinctly second best by comparison. By the end of this week we should have a better idea whether this is another example of brinkmanship that will end in compromise or the start of a new era in which the teams – and by extension their engineers – assume the decisive role in shaping the sport. What do you think will happen? Tell us via the Comment button.


The thorny issue of defence procurement is likely to rear its head tomorrow when the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee publishes its report on the Type 45 Destroyer. The warship is widely hailed as a technological marvel that will strike terror into the Royal Navy’s enemies for years to come. Unfortunately the project also became associated with cost overruns and delay (£1.5bn and two years, according to spending watchdog the National Audit Office) so expect some stern words from the MPs on the lessons to be learned.



Many attempts to turn a particular week into a national event are lame affairs driven by narrow self interest, but that’s not the case with National Design & Technology Week which begins today. Organised by the Design & Technology Association, the aim is to promote D&T to pupils and the wider community through a series of events. Given the current clamour to reinvigorate the UK as a place where things are designed and made, the attention given to D&T is lamentably low. Hopefully this can redress the balance and it deserves our best wishes.


And finally, back to sport for an example of engineering in action. If the heavens open over Wimbledon’s

Centre Court
this week, all will not be lost thanks to the retractable roof that makes its debut for the 2009 tournament. We have no insight into the tennis but confidently predict the following: if it rains, the praise will ring out for the foresight of the tennis authorities with never a mention of the engineers who made it possible.



Andrew Lee, editor