Come on people – we need money

Just noticed that Bloodhound Programme Ltd, the company behind Project Bloodhound, the initiative to break the land speed world record, has entered into administration with the appointment of Andrew Sheridan and Geoff Rowley, partners at specialist business advisory firm FRP Advisory LLP, as joint administrators.

Project Bloodhound was founded in 2007 and aims to hit speeds of 1,000 mph at a specially built, 18km long, 1500m wide race track at Hakskeen Pan in the deserts of the Northern Cape of South Africa.

In addition to seeking to break the land speed world record, the project is a major R&D catalyst and the focal point for a STEM education campaign which has reached over 2 million children since its launch, including 120,000 UK schoolchildren per year.

To date the project has operated on a partnership and sponsorship model, with support from a variety of partners including Rolls Royce and Rolex as well as the Ministry of Defence which has lent prototype jet engines for the car, and the Northern Cape Provincial Government in South Africa, which has supported the creation of the track. Individual donations from members of the public have also supported the development of the car and the global education programme.

The project has already successfully built a viable racing car which has been tested to 200mph, whilst developing or testing propulsion, aerodynamic and telecommunications technologies with the potential for far reaching applications outside of the project. The team is now seeking around £25m in investment to provide guaranteed funding and see the project to completion.

So, hands in pockets UK investors. Interested parties should contact the FRP Advisory LLP Bristol office on 0117 203 3700

Unilever and Williams launch Engineering Academy

 

Nine students have been selected to join the UWEA for 2018. The collaboration with Williams will see the Engineering Academy continue to mentor students from around the world as they aim to secure a career within engineering.

The Unilever Williams Engineering Academy (UWEA), designed to identify talented young engineers, launched this week at the F1 in Schools Finals in Singapore. F1 in Schools is a not-for-profit organisation encouraging the development of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills by allowing schools to take on the role of a Formula One team.

The high-profile programme will give students from around the world a head start in a competitive job market by providing advice, mentoring and guidance. Academies designed to identify and train future racing drivers have existed in Formula One for a number of years, but this particular scheme is dedicated to recognising and supporting a new generation of engineering stars.

The finalists underwent a series of practical and written challenges set by Williams engineers before a joint Williams and Unilever assessment panel selected students to join the UWEA.

The class of 2018 are:

  1. Elin Pierce, UK
  2. Jimin Oh, Korea
  3. Marisi Gutiérrez Ruiz, Mexico
  4. Samuel Chapman, UK
  5. Michael Jin, US
  6. Rosie Dolan, UK
  7. Omar Salem, Ireland
  8. Poojan Mehta, US
  9. Owain Roberts, UK

In Year One of the UWEA, students will complete a series of e-learning modules that have been developed by the Academy. Each student will be assigned to an experienced mentor, complemented by a number of practical experiences. Unilever will support the students with work experience opportunities in their respective home countries.

The students still attend school and university. The programme supports and goes a step beyond their traditional education. Students involved in F1 in Schools can apply to the UWEA to be in with a chance of taking part.

The next generation

Having written about the business and technology in and around the fast developing world of F1 for quite a while, I realise how important it is to make sure you’re on top of the talent you must have in your ranks just to stand still. This is why I’ve been a keen supporter of the ‘trades’ as well as the current and emerging generations of engineers working their way (perhaps unwittingly) into the sport – these days to F1 and Formula E.

This has been particularly noticeable not just from my time writing for a wide range of specialist and national publications, including the odd book, but also editing AV Magazine (mainly F1) and Electronics Weekly especially with Formula E, as its BrightSparks programme (with the support of RS Components) encourages interest in electronics/engineering from schools and universities.

The diversity of some of the brightest people I’ve had the pleasure to be associated with has filled me with huge optimism for the future occurring, as it does, alongside (but not dominated by) the doom and gloom surrounding all the chat about Brexit from a very Westminster-centric angle.

Don’t be fooled. The future for F1, from an engineering perspective at least, looks very promising indeed.

F1 tech for fast jets

 

Following on from Williams’ last technology transfer initiative, the Baby Pod, comes another interesting project which caught my attention a few days ago – a twin-seat, cockpit simulator.

Working in collaboration with BAE Systems, Williams Advanced Engineering says it will be used to develop the next generation of cockpit designs for future fast jets.

The state-of-the-art simulator  is revealed in a timelapse video of the build which took place at the Williams facility in Oxfordshire ahead of delivery to BAE Systems’ training and simulation facility at Warton, Lancashire. The simulator has modular features and interactive screens which can be reconfigured as required along with the sleek and ergonomic lines of a Formula 1 car.

Says Craig Wilson, Williams Advanced Engineering’s MD: “We are applying our capabilities across training and simulation, aerodynamics, electrification, manufacturing and lightweight and composite materials to ever more sectors, and defence is a natural fit for our team to apply their expertise.”

BAE’s also been working on Reaction Engines on a hypersonic rocket engine and developing a solar powered air vehicle with aerospace SME Prismatic Ltd.

The new environment can simulate a range of aircraft including the Hawk, Typhoon and other future aircraft concepts and forms part of a suite of simulation devices at BAE Systems’ Air site in Lancashire.

A timelapse video of the construction of the simulator by Williams Advanced Engineering is available to view and download at https://vimeo.com/288002352/9de9433790 

Slight aside, but it’s important

Williams Advanced Engineering has received the Consultancy of the Year award at the 2016 British Engineering Excellence Awards.

Sponsored by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Consultancy of the Year is awarded to an organisation demonstrating innovative and timely solutions to engineering problems posed to them by their customers.

WAE has delivered on a number of high profile projects over the past 12 months, including supplying the batteries to the Formula E racing series, creating the Jaguar C-X75 hypercar for the Bond film SPECTRE, and developing the fully electric Aston Martin RapidE and Nissan BladeGlider concept cars. What’s more, the company has seen its Formula One-inspired technologies and know-how introduced into a growing range of sectors such as automotive, motorsport, energy, defence, and healthcare.

It’s healthy, and only right we acknowledge engineering excellence. Many congratulations to the whole team.

F1 pitstop techniques to help in resuscitation of newborn babies

On your marks...

On your marks…

 

Now, here’s an interesting one…

Williams has been assisting the neonatal unit at the University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff by bringing Formula One pitstop know-how to help in the resuscitation of newborn babies.

Recognising the similarities between neonatal resuscitations and Formula One pitstops, the resuscitation team at UHW invited members of the Williams team to the hospital last year for an exploratory meeting to discuss how Formula One techniques and processes could be incorporated into their work. Wednesday 4 May saw members of the neonatal team from UHW visit the Williams factory in Oxfordshire to observe the team practice pitstops to see first-hand how they operate.

Both scenarios require a team of people to work seamlessly in a time critical and space-limited environment. In Formula One, a pit crew can change all four tyres on a car in around two seconds, with a team of nearly 20 people working in unison to successfully service a car. Williams has a dedicated human performance specialist who works with its pitcrew to fine tune the technique, processes, team work and health and fitness of team members.

Their experience previously treating new-borns in clinical practice has facilitated the transition of knowledge between the two industries and they have been the primary advisor to the hospital. Williams’s pitstops have been a real success story for the team in 2016, recording the fastest stops of any team at each of the first four races of the 2016 Formula One season.

Following these site visits, the neonatal team has identified and started implementing a number of changes to improve its resuscitation processes that are based on those used in Formula One racing. The resuscitation equipment trolley has now been audited and streamlined to ensure that equipment can be located as quickly as possible.

The neonatal team has mapped out a standardised floor space in delivery theatres to clearly show the area for the neonatal resuscitation team to work in; copying the customised floor map the Williams team takes to races to map out the specific pit box requirements at each track.

The pitstop resuscitation team at UHW are also in the early stages of implementing Formula One communications and analysis techniques, including the use of a “radio-check” prior to a resuscitation, greater use of hand signals rather than verbal communication, and video analysis to analyse performance following a resuscitation with debrief meetings as standard.

Speaking about the project Dr Rachel Hayward, specialist registrar in Neonates at the University Hospital of Wales said: “Resuscitation of a compromised neonate at delivery is time critical, requiring the provision of efficient and effective resuscitation to ensure an optimal outcome.”

Lovely the language medics use…

“Delays in providing effective resuscitative care can have marked consequences on survival or the development of long term complications. There is a growing amount of evidence to support a systematic approach to resuscitative care which is time-critical and dependent upon optimal team dynamics and clear communication.

“Analogous with the requirements of an effective pitstop we have worked with the Williams team to implement Formula One techniques and processes to augment neonatal resuscitative care”.

Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal of Williams, added: “When we were approached by the Neonatal team at the University Hospital of Wales last year to offer some advice we were delighted to assist. Their work is vitally important and the pressure they work under is difficult to comprehend; it’s a matter of life and death every day of the week.

“If some of the advice we have passed on helps to save a young life then this would have been an extremely worthy endeavour. We are increasingly finding that Formula One know-how and technology can have benefit to other industries and this is a great example.”

I think this is great. We should have many more cross-industry knowledge transfers like this.

New F1 talent

pasted image 0 pasted image 0-1

 

Sedna Lighting, a British based LED lighting manufacturer and global distributor is highlighting young engineering talent in partnership with Cardiff University.

It’s supporting the local Cardiff Formula Racing Team and creating new opportunities for the young engineers of the future. The partnership highlights the University’s school of engineering and Formula racing team.

In a collaborative test of racing light in the dark, Sedna Lighting raced the CR12 series car around the home test track at Llandow.
The car, fitted with 1,500 individual LEDs from Sedna’s flexible LED strip range, was the joint effort of designers from two universities (Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University), film makers and engineers who translated the brief idea into a realistic design and created an inspirational video featuring the project.

This time Formula 1 style driving was given an unexpected twist with driving taking place in the night and cars generating exterior lighting on their own.

You can see what they got up to here.

Award for Williams

Formula-E-Battery,-WAE

 

Williams Advanced Engineering has been awarded the 2015 Simms Medal by the Royal Automobile Club in recognition of home-grown British automotive engineering talent.

The Simms Medal is only awarded in years when the RAC’s Technical Committee deems there have been contenders of sufficient merit. Williams Advanced Engineering has been awarded the prize for its work in creating the batteries that are currently powering the cars racing in the Formula E electric racing series.

The Formula E battery had to be designed from scratch within 12 months and to a strictly pre-determined safety cell, cool sufficiently, be 100% consistent from one team to the next (40 race cars plus spares), and last an entire season with no loss of power or performance. The batteries showed remarkable reliability in the inaugural Formula E season, with only one failure in 440 race starts.

Williams Advanced Engineering is only the eighth recipient of the Simms Medal, with previous winners including Richard Parry-Jones CBE in 2007 for his contribution to the automotive industry; Ben Bowlby in 2012 for his ground-breaking DeltaWing racing car and Lord Paul Drayson in 2013 for world record breaking achievements with the Drayson B12/69 LMP-type EV racing car.

Caterham F1 racing in Abu Dhabi…

But everyone’s been laid off. Not much more to say really. Let’s hope some form of deal can be struck with a prospective buyer at the weekend.

At least tonight at 22.51, came confirmation that Kamui Kobayashi will race for the team in the season finale. The second driver to race alongside Kamui will be announced in due course.

Kamui Kobayashi:

“It hasn’t been an easy last few weeks, so it will be nice to be back in the car and work together with the Caterham F1 team members.

“I would like to thank the fans for supporting the team like they have. This team is working hard and never gives up. We deserve to be racing in Abu Dhabi and I am very glad we can race again. Now it is our turn to show what we can do – we will all try our best during the weekend ahead and hopefully we can end the season with a positive result for the future of this team.”

Caterham F1 update

Nicholas Hoult with the Caterham team at the Marina Bay Circuit, Singapore.

Nicholas Hoult with the Caterham team at the Marina Bay Circuit, Singapore.

 

I’ve just learned today that, since Friday, Caterham F1 has raised over £1 million of the £2.35 million it needs to race in Abu Dhabi.

Some result. More than I thought it would raise anyway. Still a long way to go with a deadline of 14 November but let’s be positive. Pop over to the Crowdcube website and pledge an amount, even if it’s just a fiver. Supporters may receive something novel from support badges and T-shirts to a one-off opportunity to get their name on the Caterham F1 car.

Finbarr O’Connell, Caterham Sports Limited’s administrator told me:

“I’m not packing my toothbrush as yet and there is still a lot of fundraising to be done. We’ve been approached by a number of people from Simon Ward, the artist, offering to produce an original artwork, and 500 prints of it, to trading partners who are offering their support. They want to see the Caterham F1 team back on the grid.

“Most importantly, a new financially sound interested party has entered the arena and is considering acquiring the team. This new interest is wholly due to this campaign.”

The latter sounds promising although it’s all too little, too late. After team meetings in Brazil today it sounds as though Bernie et al are washing their hands of it all. Some of the comments they’ve been making are quite outrageous.

I can’t see it but apparently there has also been a bit of confusion about the purpose of the #RefuelCaterhamF1 crowd funding project, claims O’Connell. The plan is not to run an F1 team by using crowdfunding but rather this funding is providing a supposed lifeline for the team. One would have thought this was obvious. I therefore don’t think the comment from Red Bull’s Christian Horner about the merits or otherwise of funding an F1 team via crowdfunding is either timely or relevant.

It’s a desperate move which has a very slim chance of succeeding. But if you were in Caterham’s position you’d try anything. Clearly the administrator has run out of options. If teams don’t race they won’t attract a purchaser. Well, that’s the theory anyway.

Don’t also forget the human element to all this. The 200 people in Leafield, in the Prime Minister’s constituency incidentally, have been working without pay for the last six weeks. Without them there would be no team and they deserve all our support. Chew on that Bernie.

Mark Gallagher’s new F1 book

A1GP 2008/09, Rd 5, Gauteng

 

Spent a very enjoyable time in the company of some lovely people the other night at Mark Gallagher’s book launch event at the Marriott County Hall (the former London GLC building to you and me) in Waterloo.

Mark’s an old friend and colleague who has just released The Business of Winning – strategic success from the Formula One track to the boardroom (Kogan Page – ISBN: 978-0-7494-7272-6) and I recommend you buy it – now. If you’re in the US, click here.

Apart from it being a rattling good read, full of stories from his time in the F1 industry, many people draw parallels between the worlds of business and F1 and Mark has set out a series of his ‘insights’ into branding and image, team building, change management, innovation and global communications strategy.

Former F1 driver David Coulthard has written the foreword but interestingly, later in the tome – chapter 12 – he talks about winning culture, team building, etc from the sharp end. The driver’s angle doesn’t get talked about much so this is a good addition.

About time

As Mark reminded me on the night, he’d talked to me about writing a book at lunch in Covent Garden over 10 years ago (nice Italian if I recall correctly) but he’s been somewhat busy so one can forgive him.

“It’s been a very interesting 32 years working in motor racing. Lots of different experiences. I keep thinking of better stories I forgot to tell. To work with someone like Michael Schumacher even just for a weekend gives you an opportunity to see what excellence really looks like.

“And then to work with someone like Eddie Jordan (Jordan GP founder and team principal). Every time I mention him people laugh. Worked for him as marketing and communications director – as his interpreter. I tried to make sense of what he was saying,” says Mark jovially.

“But I chose Eddie intentionally. He has this slightly mad persona. But the reality is for 15 years he ran a highly profitable, race-winning F1 team. To work with a guy like this who is totally driven and a leader who understands what it takes to be number one is a very inspirational experience. Those 10 years I worked with Eddie taught me so much.

“It was also then quite incredible to meet Red Bull’s Dietrich Mateschitz and work with him. He said he’d been inspired by EJ: ‘If EJ can create a race winning team as an independent guy with private funding then maybe I can also do the same.’ Of course he went on to win four world championships.”

Mark goes on to say

“Over 32 years I’ve met a lot of interesting people and I share these insights in the book. It has been fun not just to talk about leadership but also teamwork. There’s an innovation culture in F1, it’s not just a sport. We live in a country where there are 6,000 full time jobs in F1, 14,000 people working in the supply chain. This is a real industry in the UK of which we should be very proud.

Williams' Patrick Head (l)  and Mark Gallagher

Williams’ Patrick Head (l) and Mark Gallagher

“It’s an R&D-centric industry which is heavily involved in managing risk. We produce these amazing high performance machines and risk management and safety becomes a very important part of what we do, combining the ultimate in performance with the ultimate in safety.

“In my book one of the most difficult chapters to write is the one on safety because when you’ve worked in this sport which kills people and then see that come to an end in 1994, the last time an F1 driver was killed in a race, I can tell you that the world of industry is utterly fascinated in how F1 stopped killing drivers.

“The statistic is we had 43 drivers killed before then, so there’s a big lesson. If F1 knows how to stop people being killed in a 200 mph accident what can this teach other industries about risk management?

“Of course in recent weeks this has become very topical. We have a driver who has been very seriously injured in an incident at the Japanese GP so risk is again centre stage to what we do.

“We’ve also had two F1 teams go into administration which puts commercial risk management at the centre of what we do,” and so the parallels continue.

Next steps

“I find the whole environment utterly fascinating in terms of what business can learn from F1. It’s a really vibrant area to have worked in.

“And it’s been good to have the book published when my own racing team Status GP – having just bought Tony Fernandes’ GP2 team – is now at the level of racing immediately below F1.

“I had a letter last week from Bernie Ecclestone saying: ‘Dear Mark, You know what the final step is…’ I haven’t replied to it yet,” Mark says with a smile.

“But we’re on the cusp with a very exciting 2015 ahead. Having the book out as my team takes another step forward – it’s a very exciting time.”

It certainly is Mark. And long may it continue. Good luck matey, you damned well deserve it!

The points thing

Thanks to the BBC’s Andrew Benson for identifying the elephant in the room (which we all recognise):

“Mercedes have been so dominant this season – Hamilton has 10 wins while Rosberg has four – that one of their drivers will almost certainly win both remaining races.

“If Hamilton wins in Brazil with Rosberg second, his lead would increase to 31 points going into the final race. A second place would be all Rosberg needed in Abu Dhabi in that scenario to beat Hamilton to the championship if the Englishman failed to score.”

Crazy. If Rosberg beats Hamilton into second place in Brazil on Sunday he would cut his deficit to 17 points and Rosberg would need only a fifth place in Abu Dhabi to be champion in the event Hamilton did not score a point.

Hamilton said: “You can’t think about it. It’s a fact that it’s a possibility but it’s not something I’m willing to accept.”

Of course not. I love Bernie. I admire him on so many levels. Really I do. But this would be his death knell…

F1 driver moves

So then, at long last, Fernando Alonso is parting from Ferrari which has a lot to thank him for, making it look like a half decent team despite the politics and engineering disaster that has been this season. One might argue Alonso is not the best at providing feedback to the team, but what the hell.

Main thing is what will Vettel be able to do. After a dismal season this year at Red Bull I do wonder what he can contribute to the team without a thorough overhaul of the operation which one assumes is quietly underway…

Unknown

One also assumes, reading between the lines of comments made recently by Ron Dennis and the talented Eric Boullier, that Alonso will be heading over to McLaren to work with next year’s Honda engines and poor old Jenson Alexander Lyons Button is out, sadly in my view.

Prepare yourselves for a game of musical chairs over the next few weeks..

Personally, I think Alonso could end up at Red Bull. Even though Red Bull has not been too happy with its engine supplier of late, Alonso won two championships with Renault, so could add value to the relationship. One might also argue that the Honda technology for next season’s McLaren may not be good enough to win races and Alonso is not getting any younger.

It’s difficult. If I was Alonso, I’d take the Red Bull option…

The exit of Mr Ferrari

There are two compelling questions raised by the exit of Ferrari’s long-time chairman, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo. The first is: Did Montezemolo fail with Ferrari, and if so, why?

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It is hard to speak of failure when, in the last 23 years, Montezemolo helped Ferrari win 13 world championships and made the Prancing Horse the “most powerful brand in the world” (Source: BrandFinance). In doing so, he increased its car sales, royalties and technological excellence exponentially.

Montezemolo himself has responded to past criticisms of poor racing results by reminding critics that Ferrari is – commercially speaking – an extremely successful company. So why let him go?

Sales are not, and never were, a real issue for Ferrari. Even in previously turbulent times, such as the 90s (where racing results were also lacking), Ferrari sold everything that it produced.

Indeed, management research shows that company status is more resilient than most people believe, and it might take decades before negative results in races end up corroding the shiny appeal of Ferrari’s road cars and related merchandise. In other words, while racing results might influence sales, their impact is lagged in time with a considerable delay of several years.

So why would a top manager be unable to repeat his former success? Management researchers often quote the ancient Greek word of hubris, an individual feeling of extreme pride or self-confidence which creates a systematic bias in underestimating the challenges ahead, or overestimating his/her own possibilities of hitting targets.

Cass Business School's Dr Paolo Aversa

Cass Business School’s Dr Paolo Aversa

Says Dr Paolo Aversa, Assistant Professor of Strategy at Oxford’s Cass Business School: “If we look at Montezemolo’s public life through this lens, we notice how he practically left Ferrari years ago when he turned his active leadership into a representative one. In his early days at Ferrari, Montezemolo started his career at the pitwall, where he applied his extraordinary management qualities to trigger an amazing strategic turnaround for Ferrari as both a car manufacturer and racing team.

“Montezemolo excelled as a manager when applying a very hands-on and active leadership. However, in recent years, he changed his leadership style from active to representative and spread himself too thin through a series of business, political, and social ventures. Rather than applying his skills to the task, he used his successful personal brand to endorse various and mildly-related initiatives. This is a typical sign of hubris and even exceptional performers cannot compensate for the lack of time when they are actively in charge of such an exorbitant number of high-profile activities.

“As a result, some of Montezemolo’s outside interests are clearly struggling and underperforming compared to their initial expectations – see among others the civic and political think tank Italia Futura and the high-speed train Italo. Similarly, a few months ago, Montezemolo took the decision to quickly turn around the negative performance of Scuderia Ferrari by replacing Stefano Domenicali with Marco Mattiacci. Installing a leader who lacks a racing background – and who might need years to acquire the right skills to trigger a turnaround – clearly demonstrates Montezemolo’s complete detachment from the reality of the F1 competitions he once knew how to navigate well.”

The second critical question to ask is: Will Montezemolo’s exit help Ferrari get back to winning days?

Montezemolo’s departure creates the right opportunity for a new leader to step-in at Maranello, and leaves space for a leader who can devote more time and commitment to the non-trivial task of putting Ferrari back on pole. Sergio Marchionne’s leadership is a necessary, transitory phase, motivated by another non-racing goal: the upcoming flotation on the Wall Street stock market of FCA Group.

Adds Aversa: “But in the long-run Ferrari will need to integrate a full-time, committed leader, possibly someone with long-term technical experience in the racing world if F1 victories are the real goal (Ross Brawn could be a good contender). Winning Formula 1 is far too complicated to be achieved with representative leadership, motivational speeches and random show-ups at races. But unfortunately for Montezemolo he might have realised this a little too late.”

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