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Pole Position: The world behind F1 teams

The world of Formula One is not as straightforward as the 600 millions might think. Barry Hope looks at the complex organisations behind the teams.

The world of Formula One may be of interest to 600 million viewers, but how many know where the teams are based and how they originated?

Ferrari won its first Grand Prix 50 years ago and manufactured its cars and engines in Italy. However, it was its design and development office in Surrey, England, that was the catalyst for the success with Schumacher in the late Nineties.

You would be forgiven for thinking that Mercedes has a completely German heritage. But no, the current Mercedes GP team is based in Brackley, England, having taken over Brawn GP, which used to be Honda F1, which used to be BAR, which used to be Tyrrell. Its chassis is designed and built in the UK and uses a Mercedes engine that is built in Northamptonshire. The team is jointly owned by Daimler and Abu Dhabi's Aabar and has a Malaysian title sponsor.

The Red Bull team is Austrian, isn't it? Well, not exactly. It started life in the Nineties when Sir Jackie Stewart started Stewart Grand Prix, in Milton Keynes. Since then the team has seen various owners, including Jaguar, Ford and now Red Bull. But at least this Anglo-Austrian team has an Austrian engine? Actually, no. It's a Renault engine built in France.

So, is the Renault F1 team French? The team principal, Eric Boullier, is a Frenchman, but the F1 chassis is designed and built in Oxfordshire. And, in fact, the Renault F1 team has no direct connection with the manufacturer of that name and is rather confusingly sponsored by Lotus Cars in Norfolk, which is run by a guy who just left Ferrari.

What about the others then? Force India; surely it is Indian? Well, it's based in Silverstone because it started life as the Jordan F1 team, after which, for a brief period, it became Midland F1 and then was owned by the Dutch, UAE-financed group, Spyker. Is the engine from Tata? Nope. It's a Mercedes engine, from Brixworth in England.

Surely it will be straightforward with the new teams? The Russian-financed Virgin F1, which started life as Manor Motorsport, based in Sheffield and Bicester, as well as the Spanish HRT team, which was Campos Meta, both use Cosworth engines made in Northampton, just down the road from where Mercedes make its own engines.

How about Team Lotus? While this relative newcomer is based in Norfolk, quite close to Lotus, which funds the Renault that is built in Oxford that has nothing to do with Renault in France. Team Lotus is owned and funded by a Malaysian, Tony Fernandes.

There are just four teams left to discuss. Let's start with the all-British, Woking-based McLaren F1 team that has Bahraini shareholders and Mercedes engines. The other Austrian-owned team, Toro Rosso, is based in Italy and uses Ferrari engines, as does the Swiss-based Sauber Team that once belonged to the German car manufacturer BMW. It is based in Oxfordshire and use a British-built Cosworth engine from Northampton. But recently it floated shares on the Frankfurt stock exchange and the biggest shareholder is now Dutch.

As Michael Caine once said, not a lot of people know that.

Barry Hope is a director of GulfSport Racing, which is hoping to produce the first Arab F1 driver through the FG1000 race series. Join the UAE racing community online at www.singleseaterblog.com

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