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.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.