Everything EV

Williams’ technical director: “Motorsport heritage driving electric innovation”

In the latest episode of Everything EV, Williams Advanced Engineering’s (WAE) technical director, Paul McNamara, said the company’s motorsport heritage is allowing it to lead the charge in the development of electric transport.

As technical director, McNamara is responsible for overseeing the overall technical management and delivery of the company’s expanding range of projects, particularly in regard to electrification.

Speaking on the podcast, he said that electrification is very much at the forefront of WAE’s work.

“It is at the heart of what we’re doing, with the one qualification of lightweight electrification,” said McNamara. “Certainly, we see that electrification is the direction that the transport business as a whole is going in. Some aspects of it will have to be hybrid, probably hydrogen fuel cell hybrid, but nevertheless, those systems are electrified systems; they have electrified motors and they have a battery and there is maybe a hybridization on top of it.

“We see our core knowhow, which has come out of high-performance and motorsport, has been widely applicable in that industry and something we can help the industry with from our experience.”

On the subject of motorsport, McNamara believes it is WAE’s motorsport heritage which is allowing the company to lead the way in terms of electric transport and technology.

Asked why electrification is so important to WAE, he said: “I think it’s the roots we have in motorsport. For motorsport, we need to find a new solution the whole time and the benefits of motorsport, in terms of an engineering environment, is that it’s relatively controlled; you know the environment you’re going to be working in and it’s also very data rich, so you know what you’ve done and you tend to record what you’ve done.

“For an engineer, it’s almost the perfect testbed situation, combined with that, this pressure to do better. We can take the learning from that. One of the best examples from that was the first four seasons of Formula E batteries. We did a lot of work to create a prognosis of issues with batteries; they would have to have occasional maintenance, so we wanted to define when that will be needed. Is it going to be the next race or the race after? That’s so we didn’t have to react at a racetrack. It was the data across the four seasons which allowed us to create an algorithm to do that. When you’ve got an algorithm that says the way this battery is behaving means we have to take an intervention in a thousand miles time for example, that has a very wide applicability across the industry.

“If you’re a critical equipment manufacturer, like mining trucks for example because you really don’t want to have an issue because it’s a productivity thing; if one’s down for three hours it’s a problem. Similarly, if you’re looking at aircraft there’s a safety case to try and meet about the batteries state of charge and state of health which is very critical. All those things, coming from motorsport, can drive into other industries. Why is it we’re so nimble? I think it’s our motorsport background, where we can do things, or where we’re forced to do things more quickly and we have this richness of data to work on.”

Williams Advanced Engineering will be the focus of the next episode of Everything EV, where our host, Charlie Atkinson, is joined by the head of motorsport for WAE, Doug Campling, to discuss the current state of electric motorsport.

The full episode of Everything EV with Paul McNamara is available on all streaming services. Be sure to like and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from to catch every episode as soon as it’s released.

Want the latest Electric vehicle news in your inbox? Sign up to the free EV Powered email newsletter...