The Williams F1 team is to open its own technical centre at the Qatar Science and Technology Park [QSTP], becoming a headline tenant at a facility already populated by the likes of Shell, Microsoft and GE.
QSTP is designed to be 'a world class incubator for the research, development and commercialisation of new technologies' and forms part of the Qatar Foundation and Education City, which hosts overseas campuses for six US universities. The Williams Technology Centre will be the first F1-related facility outside the sport's traditional European heartland, and will initially be tasked with the progression of two F1-inspired R&D projects with clear commercial goals - the development of an industrial application large Magnetically Loaded Composite (MLC) flywheel and the advancement of Williams F1's simulator know-how for competition and road car application.
“It is perhaps outside of conventional practice for an F1 team to move such activities out of Europe, but we have been very impressed with the fertile environment QSTP presents for research and development and the vision Her Highness Sheikha Mozah has for Qatar leading in the development of beneficial technologies," team owner Sir Frank Williams commented.
"After detailed consideration, we have decided that this is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss, and we look forward to supporting the future of Williams F1 in part
from the development and application of F1-inspired technologies to the wider world.”
The centre will be housed in the 45,000 square metre complex that forms part of the Qatar Foundation's strategic ambition to invest in a knowledge-based, post-carbon economy, and both QSTP and Williams F1 will fund the R&D programmes. As partners, both will then benefit from the commercialisation of the technologies that have their origins in F1.
The MLC flywheel project, which has its origins in Williams' aborted KERS programme, will address the potential of flywheels to store and release energy very quickly, which makes the technology suitable for a variety of applications. Initial target markets are mass transit systems - both for recycling the kinetic energy of trains and
trams and to allow discontinuous electricification to reduce infrastructure costs - and electric power stabilisation for renewable energy applications.
Based on the extensive experience of proprietary driver-in-the-loop [DIL] simulator development for F1, the second aspect to the WTC programme will be the development of new driver simulation technology for road car training, safety and entertainment, as well as competition simulators for other motorsport series.
The WTC is expected to employ 20 staff with a double digit million dollar R&D budget and a carefully projected revenue stream that will reward both Williams F1 and QSTP for their investment and support future project ambitions.