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GP Week : Issue 26
>>GPWEEKOPINION champion es Eyes Wide Open Will Buxton GPWeek Editor WALKING down the seemingly never- ending white corridor, the walls start to close in on you. It’s quite unnerving, for at times it’s almost impossible to tell where the walls end and the ceiling begins. It’s just so white… so clean… Anally clean. Every 50 metres or so there are the grey letters on the walls determining into which sector of the building you are walking. You almost expect to hear Strauss’The Blue Danube coming from some deftly hidden speakers, as HAL 9000 wishes you “good morning.” It’s so Kubrick, so totally 2001 A Space Odyssey, it’s actually quite eerie. You enter the lift and leave the Kubrick corridor, emerging two floors up into what immediately strikes you as being Darth Vader’s home from home. Reception desks sit within circular pods, connected by walkways, all raised above the working hub of the building one floor beneath you. One almost expects to see one of those little black boxes on wheels scuttle past your feet, followed by a troop of stormtroopers. This isn’t a dream created after a sci- fi movie-fest and too much cheese. This place is very real. And it’s very, very cool. Last week, I was permitted a glimpse inside McLaren’s Technology Centre in Woking, England. It’s an awfully impressive facility, nestled away in the Surrey countryside. I’d only ever seen photographs of the building before, and each time marvelled at its design, its flowing lines and sheer style. The huge number of windows, or translucent solar optimisation panels as I like to think they might be termed in 'Ronspeak', must take an age to clean … along with the trophies. Oh, and what trophies! In a corridor perhaps even longer than the Kubrick entrance, the physical representation of McLaren’s success is displayed with pride. Not that I think they mind, but they’re running out of space. Danny, our eloquent, enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide, showed us around almost every area of the facility. We bumped into people we knew, but were given a glimpse of many, many more we’d never met… the chaps Lewis always thanks after a victory. It was a tremendously kind gesture of the McLaren Marketing Department to allow us an insight into their world, and to allow us to step inside their home. The MTC is a truly awe-inspiring building. But perhaps of even greater inspiration were the hundreds of faces who may never visit a Grand Prix, but without whom Lewis Hamilton, Heikki Kovalainen and McLaren could not go racing. These many men and women, true geniuses and artists of their craft, are the beating heart of the team … the people who spend their days and nights in this magnificent facility, working on those vital developments required to keep McLaren at the front. In watching each of them working with precision and pride on every tiny element, the magnitude of this sport truly hits you. For without their skills, we wouldn’t have such incredible machines to watch go racing every other Sunday. 23 opinion