Driving ambition at the top of Formula 1

  • By Nicky Godding, Editor
  • 13 Apr, 2017

Williams Martini Racing is celebrating 40 years in one of the most competitive sports in the world. It’s an adrenalin-filled ride, says Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams

The Williams Martini Racing Formula 1 team has been home to some of the world’s fastest racing drivers since 1977: Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve are among the most exciting drivers of their generations. However, it’s the Williams name itself which stands out as the mark of automotive excellence.

As Williams launched its FW40 car for the 2017 season, Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams talked about working in the business started by her father Frank. She admits it hasn’t always been an easy ride.

Did you always want to work for the family firm?

I never really grew up aiming to forge a career in Formula One because my father told us he didn’t want us working at Williams. He rightly wanted us to make our own way in the world and didn’t want to be accused of nepotism. Nevertheless, I had a passion for the sport as I was exposed to it from an early age. My first job after graduating from university (Claire studied politics) was as a press officer at the Silverstone Circuit. I loved my time there, and after two happy years, Williams’ then head of marketing, Jim Wright, approached me about joining the communications team. My father had no idea, as Jim knew he would be against it, but the role interested me. Jim lobbied Frank hard to hire me, and eventually, in 2002, he relented.

What was it like when you began working for Williams?

My first feeling was of pride. I was finally being paid to work at the team I love. I suppose I was also a little bit awestruck that I’d been given the opportunity. But most importantly I felt I had to quickly get on and prove myself. I was a girl in a man’s world and the boss’s daughter. I needed to show everyone I could do the job and that I deserved the job.”

Did you ever consider becoming a racing driver yourself?

My passion for Formula One never extended to wanting to become a racing driver. I’m extremely competitive but I didn’t have the talent to win so left it to the professionals

What are your best memories of growing up in the industry?

It’s difficult to pinpoint one memory. My happiest is probably of Nigel Mansell winning the 1992 Championship in Hungary. It was one of the first races Dad took me to by myself, rather than going to the British Grand Prix as a family.

I still picture Nigel at the end of the race with journalists and fans swarming around him. I remember the music being played in the garage at the end of the race: ‘The Final Countdown’.

It felt a privilege to be part of it.

  What were your biggest issues as Deputy Team Principal in 2013?

2013 was a challenging season to say the least, finishing ninth in the Constructors’ Championship. Turning the team around seemed an almost impossible task. So finishing third in the 2014 Championship was phenomenal. It was the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people who wanted Williams back on track. We left no stone unturned, we analysed our weaknesses and put a plan in place to rectify areas of concern. If you want to change something you have to roll your sleeves up, take a deep breath and get stuck in. It was a real exoneration for me personally, but also for the team and everything it means to our family.

What do you most enjoy about being at Williams?

Everything. But if I had to pick one thing it would be the sound of engines firing up after a long winter filled with withdrawal symptoms. I love the sounds and smells of the cars. To me, and my Dad, the cars aren’t inanimate objects; they are almost part of the family.

What are you most looking forward to in 2017?

The 2017 season marks our 40th anniversary - a phenomenal achievement. So that’s definitely something to look forward to. I’m also hoping it can be a successful year, but it’s going to be difficult. With the new regulations there’s an opportunity, but we’re a team that always pushes and always fights.

What keeps you awake at night?

The biggest focus every year is ensuring we have the budget to compete. This is a priority and something that I work really hard to oversee. I’m lucky to work with some of the best people in the business at Williams, which makes my extremely varied job a little easier.

Talk us through the innovation going on at Williams’ Grove HQ

We first dipped our toe in the commercial world by creating a business called Williams Hybrid Power to take the flywheel technology developed for our F1 car into other industries such as public transport.

Motorsport can bridge the gap between research and production, acting as an enabler for technologies that may have struggled or at best been delayed for years. Williams Advanced Engineering assists industry with this.

The focus is on transferring technology from the pinnacle of motor racing, Formula One, to applications in the automotive, motorsport, defence and life sciences sectors, including green tech, a key growth area globally.

We harness know-how and expertise learnt in Formula One, such as aerodynamics, advanced lightweight materials, electrification, simulation and training, and apply them to applications outside motorsport to support and promote UK innovation.

How is Williams celebrating its 40th anniversary?

We have a series of exciting events and special Williams 40 content planned for our fans, partners, media and our many friends in the paddock. We kicked off our Williams 40 celebrations at this year’s Autosport International show in Birmingham, with an immersive experience allowing fans to look back on our 40 years of history in Formula One, and we have a lot more exciting events coming up, which we’re looking forward to sharing with our fans.”


Established:                 1977

Head Office:               Grove, Oxon

Group Revenue:         £80 million

Employees:                 750

Williams Grand Prix Holdings Ltd comprises a Formula One racing team and an advanced engineering business. It is based at Grove, Oxfordshire on a 33-hectare site which is a hub for the Group’s research, design, manufacturing and commercial activity.

The racing team has secured nine FIA Formula One Constructors’ Championship titles and seven Drivers’ Championship titles, making it the third most successful team in the sport’s history

Williams Advanced Engineering provides world class technical innovation, engineering, testing and manufacturing services to customers across the automotive, aerospace, defence and energy sectors

4 Facts on Claire Williams


1.         Her favourite car is her Audi RS6. “It’s a monster”

2.         If she wasn’t in motorsport, she’d pick a career in politics

3.         Paws for thought: Time out from F1 is time walking her two labradors

4.         While men are in the majority in motorsport, she considers gender irrelevant in F1. “There isn’t scope to carry someone who isn’t performing simply because of their gender. The sport is a meritocracy.”


By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 21 Jun, 2017

Jaguar Land Rover and the animated band Gorillaz (created in 1997 by rock group Blur frontman Damon Albarn and cartoonist Jamie Hewlett), have joined together to find the next generation of world-class electronics and software engineering talent. They have designed a code-breaking challenge found in the virtual band’s app.

The best performers will be fast-tracked through the recruitment process, helping to meet Jaguar Land Rover’s ambition to employ thousands of bright new talents over the next year. It’s a major change in the way the business looks for candidates, aiming to tackle the engineering skills gap and inspire and attract a diverse range of talent and new thinking.

The Gorillaz App launches a new Jaguar Land Rover recruitment area in the form of a 360-environment in the garage of the band’s home, which also features all the iconic vehicles from Gorillaz past. Here, applicants can explore and take a two-part challenge. The first part, designed to educate users about the benefits of electric vehicles, involves assembling the Jaguar I-PACE Concept, Jaguar's first all-electric five-seater sports car. Users can learn about the vehicle’s performance, battery technology, space, charging and range.

The second and more demanding part of the game, developed to engage and recruit budding electronic wizards and coders, will focus on cracking code in Alternate Reality Game format (ARG). The challenge takes them on a series of code breaking puzzles, that will test their curiosity, persistence, lateral thinking and problem solving skills - all real world attributes of a new generation of software and engineering talent.

Alex Heslop, Head of Electrical Engineering, at Gaydon-based Jaguar Land Rover, said: “As the automotive industry transforms over the next decade, fuelled by software innovation, we have to attract the best talent and that requires a radical rethink of how we recruit. Here we’ve found an engaging way to recruit a diverse talent pool in software systems, cyber systems, app development and graphics performance. It will be the first of its kind.”

The Jaguar I-TYPE, Panasonic Jaguar Racing's all-electric Formula E racecar, appears in the garage. Users can click on a poster of Noodle with the I-TYPE and ‘FanBoost’ which enables them to vote for the @JaguarRacing team drivers to gain a power boost during their next race or to follow @JaguarRacing twitter channels.

The project follows on from Jaguar Land Rover’s STEM initiative with Gorillaz in 2016, where founder member and female guitarist, Noodle, became Jaguar’s Formula E Racing Ambassador. As the UK’s leading investor in research and development, Jaguar Land Rover is putting Noodle at the forefront of its campaign to  address the skills gap that manufacturing worldwide is facing.

The company has used its debut season in Formula E to promote Jaguar Land Rover’s thought-leadership position as a business that is shaping the future to solve the technology innovation and skills gap challenges.

Interested applicants can download the Gorillaz App now at the iTunes App Store ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gorillaz/id1217997478?mt=8 ) or Google Play ( https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Parlophone.Gorillaz&hl=en ).

To find out more about Jaguar Land Rover recruitment, click here www.jaguarlandrovercareers.com . For specific roles in Electrification see:   www.jaguarlandrovercareers.com/jlr-roles/product-creation/electrification/

Traditional application methods remain open and CVs will be accepted, but Jaguar Land Rover invites potential applicants to download the app and break the codes and solve the problems to fast-track their way into employment.


By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 09 Jun, 2017

It’s been a torrid night at the elections. We look at some early views and opinions from business support organisations.

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General, of the CBI said:

“This is a serious moment for the UK economy. The priority must be for politicians to get their house in order and form a functioning government, reassure the markets and protect our resilient economy.

“Politicians must act responsibly, putting the interests of the country first and showing the world that the UK remains a safe destination for business. It’s time to put the economy back to the top of the agenda.

“For the next Government, the need and opportunity to deliver an open, competitive and fair post-Brexit economy that works for everyone across all our nations and regions has never been more important.

“This can only be achieved if the next government doesn’t put the brakes on business, remains open to the world and sets out a pro-enterprise vision.

“Firms will support the UK develop our inclusive, innovative and open economy. More than ever, the new Government must work together with business to make the most of the opportunities ahead. Firms can provide the evidence, ideas and solutions from the shop, office and factory floor to secure our future prosperity.”  

The Forum of Private Business is calling more loudly than ever for the UK’s politicians to recognise that the economic strength of the UK is reliant on the country’s five million small businesses.

Chief Executive of the Forum, Ian Cass said: ‘The voice of small business has been completely ignored during the election campaign, with both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn both demonstrating that they have no real understanding of the critical role played by businesses to the importance to the UK, both in economic contribution and job creation,’

Facing a period of increased instability and uncertainty that a hung parliament will once again bring to the business community, Ian Cass is pushing for business to be put at the heart of government, with a Small Business Minister sitting at the Cabinet table and having teeth.

‘Businesses are tired of being paid lip service to. We have over five million business leaders in this country. Young and old, North and South, Remain and Leave, who have their feet firmly on the ground and need, once and for all, to be taken notice of, as the negotiations with Europe are progressed’

The Forum’s ‘Get Britain Trading’ campaign welcomes Members of Parliament into Forum member businesses so that they can truly understand what is needed to make the British high street great again.

‘With such a divisive split in the UK political scene, it is time for business to take control of the Country’s future,’ adds Ian Cass, ‘Not just big business with their sights purely on shareholder value, but small businesses who live and breath common sense survival in a changing world. In pushing for a proper, long term, Small Business Cabinet Minister, the Forum stands ready to support the government and its members in creating a strong and stable future UK. This will not come from politicians throwing verbal stones at each other and trotting out sound bites. It will come from a sensible and calm business approach,’ emphasises Ian Cass, a business owner in his own right.

‘The politicians have a choice. Listen and take note of the business voice, or continue sounding the ‘mayday’ siren,’ concludes Ian Cass.


Sophia Haywood, Policy Manager at Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce: “These results place even more uncertainty on our local business community, who have already persevered through recent years of political and economic turbulence. Businesses are already grappling with currency fluctuations, rising costs, and the potential impacts of Brexit. It is vital there is a swift formation of a functioning government to build business confidence and our wider economic prospects ahead of the EU negotiations. Just as businesses come together in difficult times, so should our politicians.”


By Ian Mean, director for Gloucestershire, Business West

With a hung Parliament today - no overall majority for the Conservatives - business will be very concerned about more and more uncertainty and delays in the Brexit process.

When you think that Theresa May had committed us to start the initial Brexit talks in just over a week’s time, the political earthquake that has now erupted puts a big question mark over the whole Brexit negotiation.

Will the opening Brexit talks actually go ahead on Theresa May’s timetable?

Will she even be prime minister by the end of today? Or even in a few days? There are already calls this morning for her to resign.

Our Business West members have told us in our recent survey  how frustrated they are with the lack of information on the ongoing Brexit process.

They will be even more annoyed that our government’s standing will be at rock bottom with the EU now that Theresa May’s credibility has been shattered by the General Election result which she totally focussed on Brexit.

Calling a snap election with just eight weeks to give herself a stronger hand in the EU talks was a big gamble which the British people rejected.

Never underestimate the electorate is an old adage used by experienced politicians and today they have confounded expectations.

For many months now, companies I have talked to in Gloucestershire have been doing their best to ignore the “noise” generated by politics in order to focus on their own operations and ensure they retain good relationships with their export customers.

So, what will happen now?

More frustration for these businesses who now face the prospect of those initial Brexit talks being further delayed, because we might now have a Tory Party leadership election on our hands.

If Teresa May does resign, that delay in the talks could be as much as three months, and on top of that she will not be in charge of the Brexit process.

How can she retain any credibility with the EU, having had her wish for a stronger mandate for Brexit well and truly torpedoed?

For many companies in Gloucestershire where the strength of the pound is a big issue to make them more competitive, the lack of urgency created by a hung parliament could well affect their profitability for quite a period.

The key word here for companies is: confidence.

From day one when David Cameron committed us to an ‘in or out’ referendum, confidence has been the key issue for business.

In my experience in Gloucestershire, few companies have had any confidence in the government’s secretive Brexit process and during the Prime Minister’s election campaign, it became no clearer at all.

And at the heart of the government’s poor showing in the election was that the British public rejected the Prime Minister’s hard-line focus on getting the best deal for Britain.

She failed with a lacklustre election campaign where she almost hid from real voters - as opposed to party activists. This was the case particularly when she made a whistle stop tour to Cheltenham this week.

Most voters did not understand her Brexit argument in my view. They were more interested in domestic matters like the so-called ‘dementia tax’ and the NHS.

By contrast, Jeremy Corbyn ran an old-fashioned people-focused election campaign meeting everyone he could possibly meet.

Despite his obvious political shortcomings and a vicious right-wing press campaign against him, his anti-austerity ticket resonated with the public - particularly young people.

Business has been largely ignored in the election campaign.

That has to change and quickly.

Whoever now leads the country has to understand that the whole Brexit process will not be successful unless companies are regarded as important passengers on the journey - they must not  be left standing on the platform

By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 02 Jun, 2017
Arc Energy Resources Ltd is proud to announce that it has now joined the small number of elite welding engineering companies certified to BS EN 15085 Class 1. This is the top level accreditation for Welding of Railway Vehicles and Components (CWRVC).

Arc Energy, based in Eastington, Gloucestershire, specialises in the supply of corrosion resistant weld overlay cladding and the manufacture of specialist fabrications, delivered by a highly qualified and experienced team. Established in 1994, Arc Energy has built its reputation in the nuclear, oil & gas, renewable, water & waste water and naval industries based on quality, gaining and retaining an array of accreditations relevant to the industries it supports. This new qualification enables them to provide their excellent service to
the rail industry.

Managing Director, Andrew Robinson, explains: “Arc Energy Resources has vast knowledge and engineering expertise. The company has dedicated Welding Engineering and Project Management teams who take an innovative approach to engineering to find the perfect solution for each project in an effective and efficient manner.”

For more information on Arc Energy go to www.arcenergy.co.uk
By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 01 Jun, 2017

XLR – part of the Stratford-based Rigby Group – is to significantly expand its operations following the acquisition of the Marshall’s 24/7 corporate aviation facilities at Birmingham Airport.

The executive aviation specialist is now poised for significant growth as it prepares to engage with a range of new markets and opportunities from one of the UK’s busiest executive flight destinations.

The deal, which will see it take possession of the custom built facility with immediate effect, places the company at the heart of a round-the-clock operation with multiple connecting customer flights linking New York, Delhi, UAE, and Qatar.

XLR - is part of Rigby Group’s aviation division, which already runs two successful executive jet centres at Coventry and Exeter, earlier this year revealed its intention to expand operations across the UK.

The announcement, which underlines the company’s determination to fuel rapid growth through a blend of acquisition and organic expansion, represents a significant milestone in that strategy.

Rigby Group Founder & Chairman Sir Peter Rigby said: “The establishment of a new XLR Jet Centre at Birmingham Airport marks a huge step forward in our plans for the company, placing its operations at the heart of one of the UK’s busiest and most accessible airports and opening up significant opportunities not only in domestic executive travel, but also in servicing the growing market across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

“Following our most recent investments in Exeter and Coventry, the Birmingham acquisition leaves us superbly positioned to execute our strategy of leveraging the group’s expertise and commitment to excellence to create a new major player in the corporate aviation market.”

XLR has experienced solid growth over the past 12 months as the market for corporate aircraft has remained firm. The Coventry centre has built a growing reputation as a major alternative to London for transiting private flights, while Exeter’s access to the South West has seen the volume of private jets arriving grow steadily, particularly during the field sports season.

While XLR already services an extensive client list of brokers and operators, individual clients and aircraft owners through its facilities, the addition of Birmingham’s 27,000 sq. ft. heat controlled hangar, multiple large parking ramps, and a 3052m runway capable of taking the giant A380 has boosted its capacity at a stroke.

Chris Beer, XLR Director of Corporate Aviation, added: “While we have already built an excellent reputation within the industry based on an extremely customer-centric focus, this latest acquisition will enable a significant step up in terms of the both the markets we are able to compete in and our operational scale.

“With a prestigious base now fully operational at Birmingham and ready to fly, XLR is ideally positioned to capitalise on Rigby Group’s accelerating expertise across the aviation sector to create a new force in executive jet travel.”

Charles Hughes, Business Development Director, Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, added: “XLR and Marshall share the same focus, in that, people are at the heart of our success and the addition of the impressive Birmingham FBO facility and the dedicated team within in make a strong fit for XLR. I wish the team and the business the very best for the future.”

By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 31 May, 2017

The long-term initiative from MEPC aims to reduce car journeys to improve the environment for all

MEPC, the manager and developer of Milton Park, is excited to announce a forward-thinking travel campaign and range of initiatives to encourage companies and their employees to undertake greener travel.

Vectos, a transport planning and active travel specialist consultancy, has been brought in to work with the Park’s community to encourage as many people out of their cars as possible. A range of initiatives are being introduced to raise awareness of the need to consider more sustainable and active modes of travel.

The campaign aims to inspire, motivate and reward people who make travel changes and forms part of MEPC’s long-term commitment to responsible property investment at the leading Science and Business Park in Oxfordshire. By reducing the number of single occupancy vehicles on the Park and surrounding roads, the measures will improve congestion and air quality for Milton Park’s occupiers and nearby residents.

A new ‘Liftshare’ platform will be central to this by actively encouraging employees at the Park to register on the platform to find someone to share their journeys to and from work and has already seen 450 people register. By signing up to ‘Liftshare’, employees can enter their details to either offer or receive a lift and therefore reduce the number of cars on the road and emissions produced. MEPC offers a ‘guaranteed lift home’ to active “Lift Sharers” registered on the platform having teamed up with local taxi firm Go Green to ensure everyone has a lift home.

One employee at Milton Park who is behind the scheme is   Kaspar Storrs, commented:   “It is amazing what a difference less cars on the road could make to the quality of life for all those working on the Park as well as those nearby. ‘Liftshare’ is a fantastic part of the green travel campaign. I travel from Oxford and knowing there is someone who I can give a lift to makes me feel like I’m doing my bit for the community. I look forward to seeing what else MEPC does to make Milton Park a ‘greener’ place to work.”

The action follows results of a travel survey conducted at Milton Park at the end of last year, which showed significant potential and appetite for change. The survey identified 1,300 people across the park who said they would be happy to consider alternatives to driving on their own.

An active Milton Park Travel Forum has been set up to communicate more effectively with occupiers and to support them to encourage sustainable travel to and from the Park. Made up of representatives from over 250 companies on the Park, the forum looks at tailored solutions so that everyone can ‘enjoy their commute’. A personalised travel planning service is also available to support individuals in exploring other options for their journey and to help them sign up to ‘Liftshare’ and bike to work schemes that offer tax breaks as well as a rewards and incentives scheme.

Other planned changes include improved cycleways and facilities for cyclists, who can take advantage of Milton Park’s on site Bike Doctor as well as free breakfasts. A new bike loan scheme for Milton Park occupiers has also launched. With over 100 members so far, it is proving very popular with occupiers to get around the Park and to and from the station.

The campaign supplements existing measures such as Milton Park’s electric hybrid Shuttle Buses which already save up to 888 car journeys each day. The service costs £20 a year to use and is bespoke to Milton Park. Members of the surrounding villages can also use the buses at public rates.

MEPC has designed the campaign initiatives around the needs of its resident businesses and their employees, recognising the clear appetite on the Park for a greener environment and improved parking.

James Dipple, CEO, MEPC said:   “A responsible approach to property investment is the cornerstone of MEPC’s business. We are therefore committed to working with our occupiers to improve the environment for those on the Park and living nearby. Encouraging greener travel is a way of not only improving traffic flows but also people’s health and wellbeing – it is about long-term changes as opposed to a one-off campaign.”

Veronica Reynolds at Vectos, added:   “MEPC’s commitment to improving the environment at Milton Park through this travel campaign is clear to see and it has the potential to significantly reduce traffic congestion in the area.

“Our approach is to focus on encouraging as many people as possible to make small changes, where they are able to, in the way they travel. Our experience tells us that collectively these small changes will have a big impact. We are delighted with the interest we have already seen from those on the Park and would welcome any other individuals or businesses to come forward to discuss how they can make small changes for a big difference.”

To find out more and to be a part of it please visit   www.miltonpark.liftshare.com

By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 31 May, 2017

NIC Enterprises Limited  has acquired a majority ownership of Worcestershire based, Orchard Valley Foods Limited. Mike Forrester and Cherry Blumberg remain as shareholders, and also become board directors of NIC, with Cherry remaining as Managing Director of OVF in a “business as usual” arrangement.

NIC currently owns three other companies in the UK all involved in the supply of decorations, inclusions, wafers, cones and other consumables mostly to the ice cream industry via food service and retail.  There are a number of other NIC companies based in Europe including Candeco in Sweden which is a long-term business partner for Orchard Valley Foods.

NIC is part of Orkla Food Ingredients within the Orkla group, head quartered in Oslo, Norway.

Orchard Valley Foods said shareholders welcome the fact that synergies between the group companies in both the UK and internationally are likely to bring new opportunities to OVF at Tenbury and Leominster.  Some of these have already been identified and work is underway to transfer business to OVF.  Leominster is likely to become the distribution point for the group into the Midlands, North England and Wales.  OVF makes up half of the sales of the combined NIC UK businesses and bring experience to the group of working with food manufacturers.


By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 31 May, 2017
Simon Bassett, partner Royds Withy King
By Business & Innovation Magazine Reporter 31 May, 2017

The Corsham (Institute) Augmented and Virtual Environment brings together research, innovation and reality in an area designed to optimise thinking.

This technology is currently used in a variety of sectors; at MTC it is used by architects and constructors to formulate building plans; at BP it is used to train for oil platform usage. At Welsh Water it is used for touring sites using Google Earth, and at the University of Brighton, VR is used for sports training – timing starts and analysing performance.

In our CaVE there’s a work zone with a conventional set up, where a group of people can plan and deliberate. The adjacent tech zone provides a space that has projections on three walls, so that visitors are surrounded by a different reality. Although the space is for one person, others can see in, interact and make suggestions from the outside.

There is also an HTC Vive Virtual Reality headset.

The Corsham Institute says it is creating a real eye-opening experience to encourage out of the box thinking and dynamic discussion and is hoping to work with developers on projects that will deliver Corsham Institute’s vision of a fair, inclusive, prosperous and creative society.

Corsham is a southern Cotswold market town in Wiltshire. In 2010, the Ministry of Defence consolidated its core communications and ICT activities onto a single site in Corsham to form the Global Operations and Security Control Centre and in 2016 the Government announced that a further £40 million would be spent on a new Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) centred on Corsham.

This activity has been mirrored by investment and development by the private sector with secure data centres located in Corsham and clusters of SME digital activity, making Corsham of strategic importance to the UK’s digital economy.

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