F1 rivalry hots up on ice

Sat Feb 15, 2014 5:37am EST
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By Alan Baldwin

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Formula One technology has already helped Britain to skeleton gold at the Sochi Olympics and the bobsleigh competition will see McLaren, Ferrari and BMW take their track rivalry onto the ice as well.

Like compatriot Amy Williams before her, Lizzy Yarnold's gold on Friday owed something to the assistance of McLaren Applied Technologies, part of the Formula One team's group of companies.

McLaren have two employees at Sochi embedded with the skeleton and bobsleigh teams while Formula One rivals Ferrari have been leaning on their boffins and using track-honed know-how to help the Italians.

Over the last two years, BMW - who quit Formula One in 2009 - have also worked closely with coaches, athletes and engineers of the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation to completely redesign their two-man bobsled.

McLaren Applied Technologies director of performance Caroline Hargrove said her experts had worked on Yarnold's sled for several years, although exact details were as jealously guarded as anything coming out of the F1 factory.

"We got involved after the last Olympics so that sled had already been started and been very successful with Amy Williams (winner in 2010) and we got involved in doing the second set of tweaks and improvements," she told Reuters by telephone.

The main areas in which McLaren's expertise can be harnessed tend to be in aerodynamics, sled dynamics and technical setup and the gains have been incremental rather than dramatic.

Components have been rebuilt and refined for maximum performance, while data gleaned since Vancouver has been processed and applied.   Continued...

Pilot Steven Holcomb of the U.S. speeds down the track during a two-man bobsleigh training session at the Sanki Sliding Center in Rosa Khutor at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics February 15, 2014. REUTERS/Murad Sezer