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Williams signs Formula E partnership

NEWS STORY
11/06/2013

The Formula E electric racing championship will get under-way next year and news about the series has been coming thick and fast in recent weeks. After announcing that McLaren will make the 300bhp electric motors, it came to light that Michelin will supply tyres, Renault will be a technical partner and TAG Heuer will handle the timing.

Pitpass’ business editor Christian Sylt revealed that ex-F1 drivers and the Monaco Grand Prix are also heading to Formula E and, according to his latest report, Williams will be next to join them.

Writing in American motor magazine AutoWeek Sylt reveals that Williams F1 has signed a partnership to test, source and supply the cutting-edge lithium-ion batteries which power Formula E’s 150mph electric cars. It is no mean feat.

Every race will require 40 batteries as although there will only be 10 teams, and each will have two drivers, they will have to change cars half way through due to power capacity limitations.

The Formula E season is due to begin in London in September 2014 with a race in either Battersea or Westminster. Races in nine other cities will follow including Bangkok, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Miami, Rio de Janeiro, Rome and Putrajaya in Malaysia. It is expected that the finale to the season will take place in Monaco in May 2015.

The Formula E deal is well-timed for Williams as it allows it to put to use technology it developed in a technical partnership with Jaguar which collapsed last year. Jaguar and Williams were developing a radical hybrid supercar which was powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine as well as two electric motors. It was due to have a top speed of 205mph and a price tag of up to £1m but the weak economic climate led Jaguar to announce in December last year that it will not put the car into production. Williams’ efforts were not wasted.

A senior motorsport source confirms that Williams signed the Formula E partnership on Tuesday last week and adds “they have been working on really good batteries for the Jaguar supercar programme. They are really competitive and are over 200 kilos per battery. It is a really sophisticated battery. They have this technology that they developed for Jaguar and this is what will be used in Formula E. It is a good deal for Williams and could be worth as much as £10m. It is an important contract.”

The partnership further diversifies Williams’ business. Although its main source of income is the F1 team, it also manufactures energy recovery systems which are used in buses.

The team finished eighth in 2012 but currently lies one place lower down the standings and has yet to score a point after seven races.

It last won the F1 championship in 1997 and, in a bid to boost its fortunes, last month Williams signed a deal to switch its F1 engine supplier from Renault to Mercedes in 2014. Time will tell whether it has more luck in Formula E than it has at the moment in F1.

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