Formula One: Behind the Wheels

Manu Fernandez / AP

MUSCLING IN: Brawn GP, successor to the Honda team after the troubled Japanese carmaker quit Formula One, has impressed during testing

British engineering firm Xtrac has come a long way in its 25 years. From two tiny offices, the company, which designs and manufactures hi-tech gearboxes for racing cars, now occupies a sleek, 88,000 sq. ft. (8,200 sq m), purpose-built site in Berkshire, a one-hour drive west of London. Xtrac sells its lightweight, high-strength components to the majority of teams competing in Formula One, motor racing's blue-ribbon championship. But the road ahead suddenly seems a lot bumpier. With Formula One teams racing to cut costs amid the economic downturn, Xtrac is selling fewer gearbox parts this year. Cushioned by its interests outside...

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