Everyone at Bloodhound – including the remarkably positive-sounding administrator, Andrew Sheridan – insists that this new court-sanctioned phase in its eventful history is not the end.
Bloodhound has run out of money, and is currently being operated by a skeleton crew of six people rather than the usual 16. But its technical director, Mark Chapman, describes the project as “ready to go” to its purpose-built South African track in preparation for its first serious shakedown next year. And administrator Sheridan, whose firm recently found a new owner for the Force India F1 team, makes it clear he wouldn’t have taken this assignment had he not been confident of a good outcome.
So what went wrong? The problem boils down to financial uncertainties connected with the state of the world economy, and with Brexit. Promising leads have repeatedly evaporated. Global majors, usually public companies capable of financing this project to its three-to-four year, £25 million, 1000mph climax, are proving reluctant to make medium-term commitments.
Another unwelcome thread is that, for all Bloodhound’s undoubted success at attracting the UK’s younger generation, especially school kids, to Stem subjects, a CO2-heavy land speed record car appeals less today to an electric-aware younger generation than it did even three years ago, and certainly when the project was mooted 11 years back.
Those of us who want success for Bloodhound must depend on the value of the massive global awareness the project has built for itself, and its appeal to the kind of commercial giant that invests in World Cup football or F1. As Sheridan eloquently puts it, the £25m needed to achieve 1000mph is far less than it takes to run the slowest F1 team on the grid. Described that way, Bloodhound is a bargain.