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Formerly a successful businessman and politician, Lord Drayson has turned his attention to running his Drayson Racing team in recent years, and has been particularly active in promoting racing with alternative power sources.

where it’s long enough to have a good run and a race, but not so long that you’re carrying around half a tonne of batteries.

Q. Where exactly are we with electric cars in motorsport? We are still in the very early stages. There have been a very small number of races, but really, up to now, there just haven’t been any proper electric championships. I think that’s really a pity and anomalous, because if you think about how motorsport has been at the heart of a lot of innovation in the car industry, going back to when cars were first on the road, then the fact that there is no opportunity to race electric cars – when electric cars and the challenges of electric drive technology are one of the biggest priorities for the industry – means this is a massive opportunity the motorsport industry is missing. I think there’s an urgent need for motorsport to provide a means for electric cars to go racing.

Q. Is Drayson Racing looking at competing in Formula E? If and when Formula E happens, then Drayson Racing will be

there, we’re committed to it. We’re working on it [see news story on p85].

Q. How is the development of the B12/69 EV electric racecar progressing, and what is its purpose? Great. We will be doing the final testing of the car prior to its running in the next few weeks. It’s a technology demonstrator really. It is for us to learn about the technology, although it’s a proper racecar in that it has 850bhp in just over 1000kg. Its purpose is for testing all the systems, the software, the drivetrain and offering us the experience to prove the technology.

Q. What will its range be? 15-20 minutes at full power. With electric cars it very much depends on the level of power and the size of the batteries. The bigger the batteries, the more weight, so there’s a sort of sweet spot around 15-20 minutes,

Q. What have been the main difficulties in developing the B12/69 EV? There’s a lot of knowledge being developed around the electric drivetrain for road cars, but very little work has been done for very high performance cars. So when you reach the level of power that we’re operating at, you get a lot of heat management issues. For example, you have to deal with a lot of waste heat generated from the motors. And you’re dealing with much higher voltages in the car, so there’s a lot of safety systems and so forth. And of course there’s no differential and no gearbox, so therefore the differential is software, and that’s all very safety critical. A lot of development work goes into making sure it all works.

Q. What is the biggest technological advance that needs to happen for electric racing to become successful? The adoption of dynamic wireless charging – being able to have the cars being charged as they race so they can run for an infinite amount of time. This would make the biggest difference. We’re working on a development of wireless charging, and that’s where they

F1 teams rally round Williams’ pit fire

31 members of the Formula 1 community were taken to the Barcelona circuit medical centre following a blaze in the Williams pit garage after the Spanish Grand Prix. Team members from the Williams team, plus some from the neighbouring Caterham and Force India teams, valiantly put out the fire, which is believed to have started when a fuel rig caught alight, though the ultimate cause is the subject of an ongoing investigation by Spanish authorities and the FIA.

have coils embedded in the track, which the car goes over and is charged by induction.

Q. How will this be environmentally friendly if the electricity is taken from a national grid? The national grid has got to be de-carbonised itself. The UK has committed to legally binding targets to dramatically reduce CO2

emissions from electrical

generation. Also, say for example we held a Formula E race in the Olympic park after the Olympics. We’ve built in the Olympic Park these biomass power stations that produce electricity from biomass in a renewable form, so that’s clean, and that can be used for electric racing.

Q. What do you find the most frustrating aspect of modern motorsport? Sometimes I think there’s too much emphasis on looking backwards, on the history, and not enough emphasis on looking forward and the future. I love historic motor racing, and racing an historic Lotus on the streets of Monaco [at the GP Historique] was an absolutely sublime experience. There is a place for racing these old cars, but what motorsport has got to do is continually reinvent itself to be part of the future. People want to go and watch racing because it’s exciting and entertaining, but also because you see things

Most of those caught up in the incident were relatively lightly injured, but one Williams team member was badly burnt and is now receiving treatment in the UK after spending two days in hospital in Barcelona. At the time of writing, he was said to be in a stable condition. Most of the other people affected by the fire were treated for smoke inhalation. The fire came at the end of a

memorable day for the Grove- based team, which had just taken its first win since 2004.

Wheelchair-bound team boss, Though the blaze was swiftly brought under control, there were casualties 90 • July 2012

Frank Williams, was actually in the garage when the fire

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