Over the past couple of weeks, the seven UK-based F1 teams (Mercedes, Red Bull, Racing Point, Williams, Haas, Renault, and McLaren) combined their efforts with the ‘Project Pitlane’ initiative, with the goal of used their rapid prototyping and engineering knowhow to help provide critical medical devices in a time of need.
As part of that, Mercedes has been working with engineers and hospital staff at University College London and has come up with the As part of that, Mercedes has been working with engineers and hospital staff at University College London and has come up with the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device (CPAP).
These are already in limited use in hospitals around the country. However, the project has seen an existing CPAP device reverse-engineered and redesigned in order for it be mass-produced more easily. The entire process has taken just five days, instead of the two years it would take in normal circumstances.
The CPAP device works pushing a steady flow of air and oxygen into the mouth and nose of patients, allowing them to continue to breathe before the symptoms of coronavirus become more severe and hopefully preventing patients from going into intensive care – a far less invasive process than needing to go on to a ventilator.
Andy Cowell, managing director of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, said:
“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. 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.”
The CPAP device has already been given the go-ahead from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, and trials are currently being undertaken in UCL, as well as three other London hospitals. If all goes well, the device will enter mass production. This is another area where the Formula 1 industry is set to help out, with teams able to produce around 1000 per day.
It’s a very impressive collaborative response from F1 and the wider engineering and medical communities in a time of need which, if successful, could make a significant difference during the global Covid-19 pandemic.