Williams F1 offshoot business set to expand with planned new base

Williams founder Sir Frank Williams

Williams' Grove headquarters

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

A TEAM which adapts the technology of racing cars for commercial use is planning to move into a new base in Grove.

Williams Grand Prix Engineering wants to build a new research and development unit for its advanced engineering department, WAE.

But the firm is keeping its cards close to its chest for now.

Williams, which employs more than 500 people at its headquarters in Station Road, Grove, has two divisions.

The Formula 1 racing team builds and designs the cars which have helped it win 16 FIA Formula One World Championships.

WAE takes that cutting edge technology and adapts it to a world of commercial uses.

The F1 team developed Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems to harness energy lost when F1 cars are braking.

WAE then used that technology to help create a mechanical flywheel which captures braking energy on trains.

The flywheel can increase performance, reduce energy consumption and cut carbon emissions.

WAE was also behind the £700,000 Jaguar C-X75 which can accelerate to 100mph in less than six seconds.

Williams has drawn up plans for a new workshop, stores and a “canopy building” to house the closely-guardgenius division.

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In its plans, Williams calls the construction “Phase 1 of the Project Liberty Development”.

But last night it declined to comment about the scheme.

Grove county councillor Zoe Patrick said: “It is excellent news for the community, and it fits in with the ethos of the Science Vale UK partnership.

“We have some brilliant scientists in this area.”

Williams recently won the Business of the Year 2012 title at the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) Business Excellence Awards.

Last year, the firm saw pre-tax profits rise to £6.3m in the six months to June 30 compared to £1.7m for the same period in 2011. Last year also saw Williams driver Pastor Maldonado win the Spanish Grand Prix, the team’s first victory in eight years.

Sir Frank Williams founded William’s Grand Prix Engineering in 1977 and built his first car the following year.

The Vale of White Horse District Council is due to make a decision on the scheme on April 5.

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