The McLaren Group has been involved in the development of personal respirators for NHS staff that are leading the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
UK-based Formula 1 operations have collaborated to form Project Pitlane, understanding where their relevant expertise and equipment can assist in the manufacture or production of vital equipment.
On Monday it emerged that Mercedes’ High Performance Powertrains division had assisted with reverse-engineering a breathing aid, the production of which has already been approved by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
It is hoped that production of up to 1,000 units per day can commence in the coming days.
The McLaren Group – the parent company of the McLaren Formula 1 team – has worked with partners at the University of Southampton and Kemp Sails in its response to the pandemic.
The collaboration has resulted in the production of a prototype of a personal respirator, intended for use by frontline healthcare staff that are treating COVID-19 patients.
Existing protective equipment currently worn by doctors and nurses, particularly disposable surgical and FFP3 facemasks, are in high demand or unavailable in some areas.
The current prototype, developed in Southampton, consists of a fabric hood, integrated with a protective plastic visor, while a small portable unit delivers clean air through a filter.
A belt-mounted fan pack, powered by a battery, ensures the device remains operational.
Project Pitlane is part of the VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium that also includes the likes of Airbus, BAE System, Ford, Rolls-Royce and Unilever.
The Formula 1 season is on hiatus until at least mid-June, while teams and engine partners must observe a three-week shutdown this month, which could be extended depending on government advice in the relevant jurisdiction.