Williams to supply battery system for Formula E

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Formula E, the FIA-sanctioned, all-electric racing series that’s set to take the green flag in 2014, is set to feature battery systems that will be supplied by Williams.

The group’s Advanced Engineering division, which commercializes Formula One-based technologies, will team up with Spark Racing Technology to design and assemble the system for the Formula E machines. Williams team principal Sir Frank Williams felt that it was proper for his team to undertake this project considering the rise of electric vehicles in the industry, and hailed Formula E as a series that would highlight “the growing relevance of technologies originally developed for motorsport to the wider world.”

“Energy efficiency is an important issue for Williams and whilst our work in this field is now spanning a number of market sectors beyond racing, motorsport will always be the ultimate proving ground for our technologies,” he said in a statement. “Electric vehicles are becoming an increasingly important part of the automotive industry and Formula E is the perfect opportunity for Williams to validate the latest developments in battery technology.”

Williams’ Advanced Engineering division has developed battery and flywheel energy storage systems in both racing and non-racing environments – from a flywheel hybrid system for Audi’s R18 e-tron quattro that won last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans to a flywheel system currently used on London buses.

Formula E is slated to begin in September 2014, with a preliminary schedule currently set at 10 races. One of those races is set to take place in Los Angeles, where fans saw a demonstration of the F-E machine this past April.

Position of F1 start lights altered to compensate for safety halo

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The position of start lights will be altered on Formula One tracks this season, in a bid to ensure the drivers’ line of vision is not impeded by the controversial halo protection device.

The halo is a titanium structure introduced this year in a bid to ramp up driver safety, forming a ring around the cockpit top. It is designed to protect the drivers’ head from loose debris and offer better safety during eventual collisions.

Although drivers largely understand the need for it, very few like it. They are worried it impedes visibility, it looks ugly and also that fans will no longer be able to identify a driver properly from his race helmet. Drivers also take longer to climb in and out of their cars.

Formula One’s governing body has addressed concerns and asked every circuit “to make the lights at a standard height above the track,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.

“Pole position seems to be the worst case scenario with the halo,” Whiting added at the season-opening Australian GP. “Maybe the driver can’t quite see the lights, or see only half of them, and he might have to move his head too much.”

The new start lights were positioned lower for Friday’s first two practice sessions at Albert Park. Drivers were also allowed the rare chance to rehearse grid starts at the end of both sessions.

“We haven’t normally allowed practice starts on the grid here because it’s quite a tight timetable,” Whiting said. “What I thought would be a good idea was to give the driver sight of those lights, rather than for the first time on Sunday evening.”

A repeat set of lights has been moved from its usual position halfway up the grid to a more convenient position to the left.

“Those repeat lights were normally halfway up the grid, and they were fitted round about 2009, when the rear wings became higher on the cars,” Whiting said. “But now the wings have been lowered, there’s no need for those halfway up the grid.”