New exhibition puts Science Museum in pole position for 2009

On March 11, a few days before 2009’s Formula 1 season kicks off in Australia, the Science Museum will be opening a new exhibition showing how Formula 1 technology can be transferred outside the racetrack and applied to other fields of research and innovation.

‘Fast Forward: 20 ways F1 is changing our world’, is a new free exhibition at the Science Museum showing how manufacturers and researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplines are embracing the Formula 1 spirit and finding new exciting ways to bring race track innovation and technology into our everyday lives.

20 innovative by-products of Formula 1 will be displayed in an elegantly designed gallery overlooked by the chassis of the McLaren MP4-21 suspended from the ceiling. Find out how sophisticated composite materials, telemetry systems and rigorous pit-stop strategies devised by British teams are currently applied to improve safety and efficiency in our hospitals, homes, working places as well as most dangerous battlefronts.

The exhibition will feature some rare and unique items like:

The McLaren MP4-21- a technical and engineering masterpiece designed down to microscopic detail. Built by McLaren Racing for the 2006 season, it is made up of over 11,000 components and took sixteen months of hard work and dedicated research to put together. This is also the car that Lewis Hamilton tested in late 2006 and opened the doors to his Formula 1 career with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Team.
K2 All Terrain Wheelchair – at the heart of every modern racing car is an incredibly strong carbon fibre shell known as the ‘monocoque’. A British engineering company has used their experience of manufacturing parts for Formula 1 cars to create the world’s first production ‘monocoque’ wheelchair. This will change the way we think about wheelchair design forever.

Ovei Wellbeing Capsule – an immersive diagnostics tool, designed to capture healthcare data and send it to doctors, therapists, psychologists stationed across the world. Like a Formula 1 car, Ovei’s body shell was engineered as a ‘monocoque’ structure using strong but lightweight carbon-fibre composites, eliminating the need for internal supports.

Baby Pod II – a new Formula 1 inspired solution to the problems encountered when transporting seriously ill babies to and from hospital because of the weight of traditional metal incubators. Baby Pod II is a self-contained structure similar in design to the driver’s cockpit made from materials light enough to allow the carrier to be placed in a wide variety of vehicles from cars to helicopters.

Surface Table – In 1981 McLaren unveiled the first chassis made entirely from carbon fibre composite material. The new frame was both lightweight and super-strong. Designer Terence Woodgate, in collaboration with John Barnard, has used this material to create a carbon composite dining table that stretches 4m in length yet measures just 2mm thick.

Other objects on display include Servo 300 Ventilator, BVG-Airflo Ridge Line Fly Fishing Line and Rod, Zircotec ceramic composite coated F1 wishbones, Guardian Wellington Boot, Gen3 Leg Brace, Magnom Formula 1 Filter, Fernox/Cookson Electronics Boiler Buddy, BERU Formula 1 Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, Flybrid Systems KERS Flywheel, Solar B Solar Probe, Composite Stairs.

Professor Chris Rapley CBE, director at the Science Museum, commented: “British engineers, designers and strategists are at the forefront of Formula 1. They are world experts at pushing the boundaries of materials, technology and teamwork. The outcome is not only a formidable presence on the Grand Prix track, but a stream of products and innovations that spin out into the world around us, improving our quality of life and the UK’s commercial competitiveness. This new exhibition gives a fascinating insight into the lesser-known benefits of the McLaren Group and Formula 1.”

Ron Dennis, CEO and chairman of McLaren Group, added: “F1 complies with unbelievably high standards delivered under extreme pressures, when the difference between success and failure is measured in few tenths of a second. Today this incredible engineering asset is available to other fields of research and innovation to the benefit many people in their everyday lives. The spirit of innovation and continuous research that British teams, mechanics and engineers have fostered over the decades in the world of motorsport and even outside is phenomenal: as chairman and CEO of the McLaren Group I believe that this expertise can become an example for many of the UK’s hi-tech industries as we aim to ‘power through’ these difficult times in the ascent out of recession.”

Lewis Hamilton’s crowning as 2008 Formula 1 World Champion continues a long and proud heritage of British racing triumph, but motorsport’s more than the Grand Prix winners – there is a wealth of winning technology too. British teams, engineers and mechanics have shown themselves to be at the forefront of Formula 1, a world where human skill, innovation and cutting edge technology are pushed to the extreme.