The site of Leafield Technical Centre is located on the western side of the Oxfordshire village, Leafield. It was first developed as a radio transmitting station in 1912 by the General Post Office. British Telecom decommissioned the station in 1986 and then redeveloped the site into a training college. It closed in 1993.
After closure the site was sold to a property development company and then leased by Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR), as a motorsport development centre, to the now defunct Arrows Formula One team. The Arrows went out of business in 2002. Between 2006 and 2008, Leafield was headquarters for the also now defunct Super Agri F1 team.
From 2003, Menard Competition Technologies Ltd also used offices and workshops at the site. Menard’s were responsible for the designing and building of projects that included the V12 engine for Superleague Formula and engines for Norton Motorcycles. MCT traded until the end of the decade.
Caterham F1 Team
In January 2012 it was announced that the Caterham F1 Team (formally Lotus Racing) based in Hingham, Norfolk, would be moving to the vacant premises at Leafield. They had fully moved in 8 months later. Caterham Sports Limited built cars for Caterham F1 team. They covered the whole project from design to build and included race testing facilities and a simulator as part of their arsenal.
Caterham didn’t enjoy much success in Formula One, having not scored a single point in their five years of existence. Their best finish was 11th place at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.
Bankruptcy was declared in 2015 with Caterham owing £20m to suppliers. A few weeks before going into administration, bailiffs seized items including a 2013 F1 test car. 230 employees were made redundant.