Williams F1 has acquired a majority shareholding in Williams Hybrid Power (WHP), increasing its existing 40% stake in the company to 78%.
Williams F1’s original investment dates back to March 2008 when the company bought the minority share in Automotive Hybrid Power (subsequently re-named to WHP), a Norfolk-based provider of composite flywheels, when kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS) were being introduced into Formula One. Although the WHP flywheel system has not been raced by the team, WHP’s magnetically loaded composite flywheel (MLC) technology continues to garner interest outside of the sport. (Earlier post.)
In 2009 WHP re-focused its development efforts to road vehicle applications of the technology and has recently partnered with Porsche AG to run the system in the manufacturer’s new Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid. (Earlier post.)
In the 911 GT3 Hybrid, two electric motors at the front axle developing 60 kW (82 hp) each supplement the 353 kW (480 hp) four-liter flat-six at the rear. Instead of the batteries used in hybrid road cars, an electrical flywheel power generator fitted in the cockpit beside the driver delivers energy to the electric motors.
WHP technology has enjoyed a successful racing debut in the Porsche hybrid, finishing first in its class and third place overall in only the second race of the season at the Nürburgring earlier this month.
In addition to use in racing and road car programs, WHP’s technology is also under development at Williams F1’s new research facility at Qatar’s Science and Technology Park for inclusion in larger infrastructure applications outside of the automotive industry.