EXCLUSIVE: Key figure humbled by F1 effort against COVID-19
The seven UK based Formula 1 teams have joined forces to create 'Project Pitlane', an initiative that will see the teams assist in the rapid development and manufacturing of vital ventilators in the battle against COVID-19. Innovate UK Chief Technology Officer, Mark Gillan, talked to GPFans about the project.
Formula 1 teams are expected to be taking their mandatory three-week summer shutdown during the current period, and Gillan says that he has been humbled to see team personnel set aside their time off to assist in the fight.
“We’re pushing hard," said Gillan. "To be honest, it’s pretty humbling seeing what the teams are doing in terms of the effort that they are putting in, in what should effectively be their shutdown period. They’ve really stepped up to the plate.”
Gillan is no stranger to Formula 1 having held positions at McLaren, Jaguar, Red Bull, Toyota, and most recently, Williams.
With several teams having already announced that they would be assisting with ventilator production, it was Gillan and Formula One Management [FOM] who pulled these efforts together into one concerted effort.
"I phoned up my old contacts on a Sunday night, the 15th of March," continued Gillan. "Some of the teams were already involved in various aspects.
“I met FOM [Formula One Management] on the Tuesday directly after that, on the 17th, and then, speaking to FOM, they had exactly the same idea too. On the Wednesday we had, in the virtual world, every single UK based F1 team and their technology arms and engine manufacturers around the table, agreeing that we needed a coordinated effort to basically work together to help the national effort.
“From the 18th of March, it’s only been 11 days, we’ve really got quite a slick operational process across the teams, and I think this is where, again maybe something that the teams, the benefit they have is that they know each other so well. The staff know each other well, the teams know each other well because they know their processes.
“It’s not like bringing seven or multiple disparate companies together, it’s almost like working in a single company with different business units and being able to coordinate across those just to maximise the impact and the resource.
“It’s working very well. There’s still a lot to do, but we’re working well together.”
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