There are 10 constructors of Formula 1 race cars, and out of those 10, a surprising 6 teams have their headquarters in the UK. Even constructors whose identities are often linked with other countries have their HQ in England. You may be wondering which 6 F1 teams are based in the UK, and why.
The 6 F1 teams based in the UK are:
- Red Bull – Milton Keynes
- Mercedes – Brackley
- McLaren – Woking
- Alpine Renault – Enstone
- Aston Martin – Silverstone
- Williams Mercedes – Grove
At the reintroduction of motorsports after World War II several things were in abundance: huge empty airfields, demobilized Air Force engineers, and a craving for the return of motorsport. Below we’ll discuss which teams are UK based and the reasons that brought them there.
Despite being an Austrian company, Oracle Red Bull Racing is headquartered in Milton Keynes, with over 500 employees at their factory. Milton Keynes and the surrounding area are well known in racing circles as “Motorsports Valley” due to the huge number of companies based there who focus on the industry.
Over 40,000 people in the Milton Keynes area are in the motorsports industry, which makes the area an ideal hunting ground for talent. In much the same way that Silicon Valley is renowned for the number of tech jobs available, Motorsports Valley draws engineers, mechanics, and companies alike to the area.
F1 stalwarts Mercedes have been in and around F1 racing for years and have also made their home in Motorsports Valley. With 8 world championships and an astonishing 115 Grand Prix wins, Mercedes are one of the most successful Formula 1 teams of all time. In 2010, Mercedes created a works squad that took on the mantle after the buyout of Brawn GP (formerly Honda).
From the start, the new Mercedes team hit the ground running, and has had unprecedented success ever since. 6 more world titles for driver Lewis Hamilton, alongside total domination in the constructors’ championships, has made Mercedes one of the most feared F1 teams around.
Another historic name in F1, McLaren has a rich and successful history in motorsport, with their first F1 entry going back as far as 1966, and have been at their Woking HQ since the 1980s. A new 50-hectare state-of-the-art factory was built in 2004, and McLaren has been steadily improving ever since.
Investing over $300 million into their world-class facilities, McLaren is looking to the future, and having been in F1 for many years, their UK base is one of the best around. A first F1 win since 2012 came in 2021, with the team achieving an excellent 1-2 finish at Monza, which shows they are heading in the right direction.
An F1 team with a long and varied history, the current Alpine Renault team has been known as several names in former incarnations, not least Benetton Formula, Lotus F1, and since 2020, Alpine Renault. Based in Enstone in the UK, Alpine has a 17-acre site in the heart of Motorsport Valley.
A big part of why Renault, despite being a French automobile company, keeps their Alpine F1 team based in Enstone is an economic one. After buying out Benetton in 2000, and with various F1 teams being run from the Enstone base, it makes financial sense to keep the base where it is.
The manufacturing side, the engineering side, and the locality of many necessary sub-industries, as well as an abundance of local talent, means that the benefits of staying put far outweigh the benefits of relocating to France.
It’s been over 5 decades since Aston Martin last entered the world of Formula 1, but since the investment in Aston Martin by Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll in 2020, a rebranding has seen the return of this iconic British manufacturer to F1. Currently based at Silverstone, where the team is building an incredible new F1 headquarters and factory, Aston Martin appears here to stay.
The new 30-acre site will be ready for use by Aston martin for the 2023 season and has 3 huge buildings directly opposite the Silverstone circuit. Investment in the team is rapidly gaining pace, as is the hope that Aston Martin can finally become a force in Formula 1. Building a legacy from the ground up in F1 isn’t easy, it takes time, money, and patience.
With 1 Grand Prix win to their name so far, the future looks bright, especially as their location allows the team to canvas for the best talent, both in respect of engineers and young drivers.
Another influential and once-great F1 team is Williams. With 114 Grand Prix wins since 1978 and with new owners investing in the team after the sad death of team founder and F1 legend Sir Frank Williams, the future looks interesting for Williams. This is the first time since the team was founded that a Williams hasn’t been at the helm, and the team will be looking for improvements quickly.
Having moved from Didcot to Grove in 1996, Williams started with just 17 staff, and now have well over 500 employees all firmly focused on taking the team to heights not seen for many years. Bought for only £5 million, the Grove headquarters has seen a great deal of investment, as the former Admiralty building has been turned into a state-of-the-art factory.
The rich history of the Williams F1 franchise has also been moved to the Grove site, which now holds a collection of Williams race cars and memorabilia spanning decades of history.
There are so many F1 teams based in the UK because after World War II ex-RAF engineers and abandoned airbases were easily available and became the building blocks for Formula 1 factories. Once a hub for motorsports was established, it made sense for teams to stay or move there.
Sometimes happenstance and coincidence collide to create the perfect environment for a venture to blossom, and it is at the end of the Second World War that we can look for the first tell-tale signs of things coming together for British motorsport. After more than 5 years of war, the public was craving a return to normality, and sports offered a great way to finally begin enjoying life again.
A lack of funds after a costly war meant having to think outside the box, Britain was heavily in debt, especially to the USA, so funding for sports, especially expensive motorsports, was at the back of the line. What was in abundance, however, were highly trained engineers and mechanics that had spent the war building vehicles for the army, people looking for an outlet for their skills.
The availability of trained personnel, coupled with a sudden availability of former RAF airbases in the south of England, meant that the stage was set for motorsport to begin again with a vengeance. With newer, lighter materials that had been developed during the war, and a need to keep costs to a minimum, several racing teams set up in the same area.
With at least the basic infrastructure already in place, such as wide open airfields and ex-RAF mechanics well versed in building lightweight and lightning-fast machines, it made economic sense to keep everything in the same area, and so Motorsport Valley came into being. As the years went by, more and more teams began operating in the same area, building a large community.
By the formation of the Formula 1 World Championships in 1950, a burgeoning industry had begun to grow. Here, racing teams could source the right staff and be able to find the manufacturing expertise needed to build race cars. The materials needed also brought suppliers to the area, and component makers flocked to Motorsport Valley as they found a need for their products and services.
Sometimes an F1 team runs out of sponsors or ideas and simply ceases to compete in Formula 1. When this happens there have been many instances where another constructor turns up and finds funding to start a new team. Rather than purchasing new factories, new headquarters, and starting over, it makes sound financial sense to simply buy out an existing setup.
A great example of this is the current Alpine Renault team, who have been based at Enstone since buying out Benetton in 2000. Prior to Renault owning the UK-based facilities, the Enstone HQ had been the base for many F1 teams over the preceding years. The original F1 team, Toleman, first began racing in F1 in 1981 before being bought out by Benetton in 1986.
A move to Enstone in 1991 to their new headquarters quickly saw Benetton win 2 F1 championships with Michael Schumacher before the team was bought out by Renault in 2000. Renault took over the Enstone HQ as everything they needed was already there. Despite the team name being changed numerous times, it has always made sense to keep the Enstone facilities as they are.
Another great reason for keeping a base in the UK is the wealth of talent available. Because so many F1 teams have been UK-based for so long, those mechanics, designers, and engineers who wish to work for F1 teams invariably gravitate to the south of England. In much the same way a programmer or entrepreneur may gravitate to Silicon Valley, the UK became the place to be.
This turns into a bit of a cycle, teams started in the UK due to the facilities available, and so the talent followed. The bigger the facilities, the bigger the teams become, needing even more qualified staff. One study found that 86% of top high-performance car engineers are based in and around Motorsport Valley, and relocating away from that source of talent would be counterproductive.
As well as F1 talent, and the mechanics and engineers that flock to the area due to its motorsports, there are a number of bleeding-edge technology and manufacturing companies that supply Formula 1. Over 4,300 companies are based around Oxfordshire and the Midlands, all offering their services to the F1 teams. Even local universities have jumped on board, offering courses based on motorsports.
Not all F1 teams are based in the UK for various reasons, including economic, cultural, and historical. From simply being easier to manage or even the benefits of sponsors in their home country, teams choose their base carefully. Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri and Haas are based outside the UK.
Ferrari being based anywhere but in Italy is a worrying thought, with the team being followed almost religiously by their fans. Moving the Ferrari team to Motorsport Valley in the UK would likely cause a backlash. The passion and history surrounding arguably the greatest F1 team ever would likely cause fans of Ferrari to storm the streets if the team decided to leave Italy.
The history and heritage surrounding Ferrari, founded by legendary figure Enzo Ferrari, means that relocation simply isn’t an option. Some teams, however, don’t have anywhere near the level of passionate support that Ferrari has, but there are other reasons not to be UK based.
US-owned F1 team Haas has its main base of operations in Kannapolis, North Carolina, alongside the team’s NASCAR operations. While both teams are separate entities, it makes sense for Haas to be able to pool their resources and use one base for their motorsports teams. Haas does have a smaller base in the UK, but this is due to the closeness of the UK to the rest of Europe.
Rather than having to ship everything back to the USA after each Grand Prix, Haas uses their base in Banbury in the UK as a staging point for their racing. Being able to quickly relocate to Banbury after races to rebuild and take stock allows Haas to avoid the lengthy and costly return to North Carolina after every race week.
Having their main base in the USA has other benefits for Haas, as there has long been a need for an American F1 team to successfully integrate within Formula 1. There are high hopes that F1 becomes much more mainstream in the USA over the coming years, as evidenced by the first Miami Grand Prix. Having a home team to cheer on will appeal not only to Haas but to F1 too.
There are 6 F1 teams based in the UK, and understanding the history of F1, especially its post-war years, helps us to understand the reasons behind this. While 4 teams operate out of the UK, there is no doubt that Motorsport Valley is an attractive location for most.