F1 teams ready to produce 1,000 breathing aids per day

2020 F1 season

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Formula 1 teams are preparing to start production of a breathing aid designed to save lives of those suffering with the coronavirus.

The Mercedes F1 team worked with University College London and University College London Hospitals to produce the first example of the device in less than 100 hours.

The design of the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device was adapted by engineers to allow teams to produce it in large numbers. It has already been recommended for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

UCLH will now receive 100 of the devices for clinical trials. It is hoped the supply of extra CPAP equipment will help reduce the need for ventilators, which are in high demand as a result of the pandemic. Britain alone expects to need 30,000 of them.

Around 1,000 of the CPAP devices can be produced per day by F1 teams in Britain. They have collaborated in ‘Project Pitlane’, an effort to develop medical technologies in response to the pandemic.

“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,” said managing director of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains Andy Cowell.

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“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.”

Oxford Optronix will manufacture the oxygen monitors which accompany the devices. Chief executive Andy Obeid said the project had been completed with remarkable speed.

“By working flat out and mobilising the support of every individual in my company as well as other small companies across the UK, we have accomplished something in five days that would normally take two years.”

The UCL’s vice provost health Professor David Lomas described the device as a “breakthrough [which] has the potential to save many lives and allow our frontline NHS staff to keep patients off ventilators.

“I would like to pay tribute to the incredible team of engineers and clinicians at UCL, HPP and UCLH, for working round-the-clock to develop this new prototype. It is, quite simply, a wonderful achievement to have gone from first meeting to regulator approval in just 10 days. It shows what can be done when universities, industry and hospitals join forces for the national good.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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33 comments on “F1 teams ready to produce 1,000 breathing aids per day”

  1. Good on them.

  2. I don’t mind admitting that the story brought tears to my eyes. Well done everyone involved!

  3. Way to go F1 :D

    I always remember the quote by Lewis Hamilton:

    “If our team choose to put a man in space, I bet they would.”

    Something like that. Now Respirators are no rocket science, but putting an entirely new product in to “orbit” is what F1 does. Rapid prototyping, constant turnaround. They should also help with data modeling.

  4. Brilliant. And no surprise that Mercedes is leading the way. Ferrari please wake up and smell the espresso.
    And what about the ingenuity of Honda and dare I say Renault?

    1. You can see that people are starting to develop withdrawal symptoms Now even caring for the sick is a competition…. :/

      1. I think my comment should have gone to SadF1fan not Islander my apologies.

    2. Please stop commenting.

      1. Eh? What’s up fading flower?

        1. Eh?

          Tough question!
          But I think you’ll grow over it when reaching puberty.

          1. Ah, so she’s not saying.
            Matey, you don’t like you don’t read, you don’t visit. Simple.

    3. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/coronavirus-news-covid-19-latest-cases-uk-lockdown-nhs/

      Intensive care need in UK could be reduced by 50%. A dramatic intervention that few could achieve like F1. Let’s hope there is more like this.

    4. Time to self-isolate on your island methinks.

      1. Islander I’ll play your silly game. Yes it is a competition it’s a race against time to design and build life saving machines.

        1. @johnrkh – good comeback.

    5. F1oSaurus (@)
      30th March 2020, 21:24

      Actually Ferrari was also reported to be helping with an Italian initiative to build ventilators:

    6. @Islander I take it you are unaware that Ferrari is helping to source ventilators? The only teams, as far as I know, that haven’t signed up to do anything yet are AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo, and neither team can get in their factory at the moment, so they’d be a bit limited in what they can do right now. (When AlphaTauri does get back in, I suspect they’re going to support Red Bull in Project Pitlane – I’m sure Italy would not mind having some extra CPAP machines either).

  5. just an evil thought: could it be that F1 teams are in part doing this to be classified as “necessary industry” and keep the doors open for regular car development business?

    still, great that they can help, however they can

    1. I think not – the people in the teams are seeing how the disease is impacting communities, locally, nationally, in Europe, and globally, and are likely just happy that they are well-placed to be able to contribute.

    2. I’m assuming car development is going on, but the people working on that are working from home.

      They are probably getting access to the powerful computers at the team’s HQ from home.

      Really happy seeing the worlds brightest minds working on helping fight this disease too :)

    3. could it be that F1 teams are in part doing this to be classified as “necessary industry” and keep the doors open

      Not necessary, @allyita.
      The F1 ‘summer’ break is extremely well defined what they can and what they cannot do. It’s not that the site is locked-up. From memory, they can still do marketing and administration and non F1 related activities. At the same time (most) F1 related activities are forbidden, even from home.

    4. No, they are doing it because they can, and extremely quickly.

    5. That’s a very dark spin to put on things. Not even my tinfoil hat is on that tight.

      Whatever the underlying motivation; be it having an excuse to keep the car development going in the background, or PR propaganda, the fact remains that every F1 team is one of the most advanced engineering companies on the entire planet. Even HAAS and Williams.

      These teams are engineering companies that can theorize incredible innovative technologies extremely reliably, and produce iterative prototypes at lightning pace. As is necessary in their ultra-competitive environment.

      To have these talents and resources remain dormant in such a time of crisis would be a tragedy. Well done F1, proving once again that F1’s unique aspect of competitive engineering is a strength.

    6. @allyita If the teams needed a selfish motive (and I don’t think they did on this occasion), the fact that the sooner COVID-19’s under control, the sooner they can get racing again, would be entirely sufficient.

      From what I saw on the Twitter discussions between teams, the primary motive is a desire to use the spare capacity in their factories to help people in greater need than themselves. Sometimes people can have noble motives.

  6. It makes me very proud that the sport I love is able to help combat this virus. Well done Mercedes F1 and Project Pitlane.

  7. makes you think what else F1-Teams with all their talented engineers could achieve to make this world a better place

    1. @hugin McLaren and Williams’ engineering spin-offs, with their broad range of non-racing innovations, give us a good clue.

  8. Brillant, well done Mercedes, Project Pitlane and F1! This is what F1 is all about, some of the best minds in the world working together to push the world forward and in this case, save lives.

  9. There is more that goes into making a medical device than most people realize.

    The first prototypes are only the beginning of getting a product ready for widespread usage. They’ll need to worry about all kinds of things like materials, toxicology, software, manufacturing validation, and how users interact with the device. Fortunately these teams are already skilled at quality control, which is critical for a device like this.

    So many projects like this get drawn out or even fail after the first prototypes. Let’s hope they continue to succeed.

    1. @slotopen as I understand the situation, what the individuals involved in this process have done is to use, where possible, existing designs and proven components.

      Because most of this is based on proven technology, it means the accreditation process is simpler as they effectively already have pre-approval for most of those components. Furthermore, a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device is a less complex device to begin with – which is intentional: using CPAP devices at an early stage minimises the number of people who need more intrusive mechanical ventilators, meaning you can focus those more limited resources onto the most critical cases.

      Because it relies heavily on proven technology, they’ve been able to get pre-approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The more important aspect is not so much the design itself, but the fact that those involved have developed ways of scaling up production much more rapidly – it’s that element that is the greater success.

  10. Anyone hear the story of the American guy who designed a breathing device that can accommodate four patients at once rather then one and was sued for it by the medical industry?

    1. No never heard It, sounds as believable as the guy who invented the water powered car that oil industry bought up and buried….

      Any evidence?

  11. I think this is great news. I hope we get more media releases like this one.

  12. Outstanding News. Well done.

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