F1: Williams follows McLaren down diversification road

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarWednesday, April 28th, 2010

 
 

The latest McLaren road car might be the most well-known example of a F1 race team diversifying away from pure track action – but McLaren is certainly not the only team travelling down that road.

Today Williams F1 has announced an increased level of involvement in a company it invested in two years ago in order to develop an energy recovery system that was originally based on its KERS.

The company has acquired a majority shareholding in Williams Hybrid Power (WHP), increasing its existing 40 per cent stake in the company to 78 per cent.

WHP was originally called Automotive Hybrid Power, a Norfolk-based provider of composite flywheels. It was used to develop the magnetically-loaded composite flywheel (MLC) technology that is now being raced experimentally by Porsche as well as being developed for road car use by the KinerStor consortium.

The company said of its increased investment: “With car manufacturers seeking continuous reductions in CO2 emissions, WHP’s flywheel technology provides a cost-effective, technically viable and environmentally-sound solution for the mild hybrid sector.

“Consequently, in 2009 WHP re-focused its development efforts to road vehicle applications of the technology and has recently partnered with Porsche AG to run the system in the manufacturer’s new Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid.

“WHP technology has enjoyed a successful racing debut in the Porsche hybrid, finishing first in its class and third place overall in only the second race of the season at the Nürburgring earlier this month.”

It says that, in addition to use in racing and road car programmes, WHP’s technology is also under development at Williams F1’s new research facility at Qatar’s Science and Technology Park for inclusion in infrastructure applications outside of the automotive industry.

Alex Burns, Chairman of WHP and CEO of Williams F1, said, “I am delighted that we have now taken a larger stake in Williams Hybrid Power. This agreement means that the business has the funding it needs for the development of a family of MLC flywheels to suit a range of applications in the automotive and other industries.

“I am confident that WHP will continue to deliver value to its customers and develop into a substantial, successful business.”

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