PRIME Minister and Witney MP David Cameron had a taste of life in the fast lane in an Oxfordshire-built Formula One car yesterday. Mr Cameron was visiting the Caterham F1 headquarters in Leafield as the team prepares for the start of the grand prix season.
He met with employees, visited the hi-tech workshop and took a good look at the team’s cars.
Caterham is also developing new road cars and founder and co-chairman Tony Fernandes described them as the “piece de resistance” of the company’s work.
Mr Fernandes said: “It was fantastic for the group, fantastic for the boys and girls, that the Prime Minister made it down here and heard some of our plans for the future.
“For me when you see the vision becoming a reality it is fantastic.”
Mr Cameron said: “This is the dream investment for any constituency. Caterham F1 is bringing high-end jobs, engineering and manufacturing to West Oxfordshire. Not only will it create jobs but it will be a real boost to our local economy.
“I was delighted to be able to take a tour around the centre and see first-hand such cutting-edge technology and innovation.”
Caterham’s road cars will be available in late 2015.
In F1, Caterham is hoping to build on its tenth place in last year’s constructors’ championship. Last week it launched the new car – the CT03 – as testing for the new season got underway at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain.
Two new drivers have joined the team, with the line-up now comprising Frenchman Charles Pic and rookie Giedo van der Garde from the Netherlands. Mr Fernandes is looking forward to the new season and is cautiously optimistic about the team’s chances. He said: “It has been a hard couple of years but we have accomplished more or less what we wanted by being tenth. Last year was disappointing so let’s see where we go this year. I feel we’re going the right direction.”
On his tour of his constituency, Mr Cameron also visited the State Of The Art Gallery in Witney and the administration centre and warehouse for The Community Emergency Food Bank (CEF), based in the home of Tom and Jane Benyon in Bladon, which has provided non-perishable food for people in financial crisis in Oxford for the past five years.
The Prime Minister said: “I was very impressed with the dedicated team of volunteers who give their time and support to help those experiencing difficulties in the Oxford area.”