Anyone involved in the British motorsport industry knows that it is one of this country's major success stories, but a new survey has shown just how impressive it really is.
The Motorsport Industry Association has just completed a review of the UK's Motorsport Valley Business Cluster. If that sounds like it makes for dry reading, it actually offers some fascinating insights. Consider the headline figure: in 2012, the UK motorsport engineering and services industry had a turnover of £9 billion. That's billion. Which is a lot of money generated by cars driving round in circles.
Particularly impressive is the increase since the MIA last completed a similar survey in 2000. That year, the turnover was £4.6 billion. In other words, the motorsport industry has nearly doubled its turnover in little more than a decade, despite a deep, long recession. Some other figures of note: the 4300 companies that are part of the motorsport industry employ 41,000 people, 87 per cent of firms export worldwide. There is a particular focus on R&D, with some firms spending more than 25 per cent of their annual turnover on development.
They are impressive statistics, and they are proof that the motorsport industry isn't just about producing machines that can win races and rallies. In fact Chris Aylett, the CEO of the MIA, points out that the recession might have had a positive impact on the motorsport industry. Motorsport firms had to look beyond winning races as a driver for income, and looked for other areas, including non-motorsport industries, that they could put their expertise and skills to use in.
The British motorsport industry is boosted by the fact that eight of the 11 Formula One teams are based in the UK. F1-related businesses accounted for more than £2 billion of turnover in 2012. There are historical reasons why so many F1 teams are based in Britain, but the key thing is that they have all stayed. That's a testament to the expertise and knowledge base of motorsport engineers in this country.
So what does all this prove? Well, it shows that motorsport in the UK isn't 'just' a sport. It's a huge, thriving business that Britain should be proud of. There aren't many business sectors in which the UK doesn't just lead the world, but dominates it. Motorsport is one. So the next time someone who doesn't like motorsport suggests it's just cars going round in circles, why not let them know just how valuable those cars driving round in circles really are.