It’s safe to say that Formula One will never figure as an Olympic sport, but engineers at McLaren are aiming to use the technology that helped bring Lewis Hamilton the 2008 World Driver's Championship to help Team GB’s cyclists achieve further gold medal success at London 2012.
Cycling is one of the key Olympic sports set to benefit from a new partnership announced by the Formula One team, based in Woking, Surrey, and UK Sport that will see McLaren’s cutting-edge technology used for in-car telemetry during Grand Prix races adapted to assess athletes’ performance in real time during training.
The development, which will also benefit Olympic hopefuls in sports such as rowing, canoeing and sailing, is entirely in keeping with British Cycling’s focus on using technology and performance monitoring to obtain a competitive advantage, which has helped the likes of Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton achieve success at World Championship and Olympic level.
Such technology is closely guarded within the motor racing world – McLaren itself was fined $100 million in 2007 by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile after its designer was found to have obtained plans belonging to Ferrari – but Dr Caroline Hargrove, programme director for McLaren Applied Technologies, told the Daily Telegraph, “we want McLaren to apply some of its technology to the outside world."
Live telemetry deployed during Formula One races allows teams to make decisions about tactics almost instantaneously, based on a vast flow of real-time information from the car such as tyre and engine performance and the driver’s physiology.
That technology will now be adapted to enable Olympic coaches to benefit from real-time data using sensors placed on athletes and their equipment regarding performance, enabling them to make instant changes if desired.
Cycling will be the first Olympic sport to benefit from McLaren making its know-how available, with the technology set to be used by British Cycling from March onwards.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.