ATL Featured in Racecar Engineering June 2023 Issue

Date Added: 14/06/2023

There are very few companies that supply every Formula 1 team and, of those there are, the majority do so as part of a controlled component deal with F1 itself. ATL, however, is different. UK-based Aero Tec Laboratories, to give the company its full name, not only provides every car on the grid with its fuel cells, but each one is a bespoke design, handmade for the purpose. This isn’t a deal it has with the series, Formula 1 teams are free to go elsewhere if they can find a better option, or even make the cells themselves. The fact they don’t speaks volumes for ATL’s products.

ATL has been in this position for 40 years or so, while it has been in existence for over 50, having started as a design and testing facility for flexible composite materials. It went on to use its knowledge with that technology to start manufacturing deformable, bladder-type fuel cells, where it found its niche within motorsport.

Since 2013, ATL has operated from a 105,000sq.ft factory in Milton Keynes, UK, from where it also manufactures composite or fabricated containment vessels, complete fuel systems, oil tanks, drinks bladders, bowsers, pressure compensators and battery cooling apparatus, to name just some of its products.

But it is the company’s bladder fuel cells for which it’s best known, these being pretty much ubiquitous in high-level motorsport.

‘We supply every F1 team, every car on the grid at Le Mans, every WRC car, every GT3 and all the BTCC field, as well as F2, and many others,’ says ex-racer, Giles Dawson, who has been at the company for 17 years, recently taking over the role of group CEO.

The group in question is made up of the UK arm and a facility in Ramsey, New Jersey in the US, yet the bulk of the design input has often come from the British side.

‘We’re trying to fundamentally change the business,’ says Dawson. ‘We’re now a group, rather than being two individual companies. I’ve become group CEO to bring it all together and change the way we’re approaching things. We have been doing the R & D elements of US motorsport projects from here [the UK]. I’m now trying to re-align things so they attract that business there [the US], rather than us attracting it here and then shipping stuff across the water.’

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