The collective work of the seven UK-based Formula 1 teams in response to the government’s call for help fighting the coronavirus has already started producing results.
Operating under the ‘Project Pitlane’ banner, the teams in the UK – Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Renault, Racing Point, Haas and Williams – are all working to help find ways of addressing the huge expected deficit in available ventilators. As part of that initiative, engineers from Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) have been partnering with University College London and clinicians at University College London Hospital to reverse-engineer a breathing aid known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).
The aid is for patients who require more support than a simple oxygen mask, with CPAP used in Italy and preventing as many as 50% of those who were treated with it from requiring invasive mechanical ventilation.
In under 100 hours of work over the past two weeks, a first device was produced, and the adapted aid has now been recommended for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
“The Formula 1 community has shown an impressive response to the call for support, coming together in the ‘Project Pitlane’ collective to support the national need at this time across a number of different projects,” HPP managing director Andy Cowell said. “We have been proud to put our resources at the service of UCL to deliver the CPAP project to the highest standards and in the fastest possible timeframe.”
At the same time, McLaren announced further developments from VentilatorChallengeUK – the consortium working together including the F1 teams and the likes of the Ford Motor Company – where the government has now ordered in excess of 10,000 units.
With the consortium that F1 is part of tasked with identifying the best designs to produce a Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator System (RMVS), production of a new design will start up in the coming days.
“The consortium will now accelerate production of an agreed new design, based on existing technologies, which can be assembled from materials and parts in current production,” a McLaren Group statement read. “The device combines existing proven clinical equipment and is the clinicians’ first choice for the RMVS.
“The regulator has been involved throughout and we anticipate a straightforward and very prompt regulatory sign off after the final audit.
“The consortium is now working at full speed to take the necessary steps in order to increase production of this design. Production will begin this week.”