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Challenges of running high-speed rotors

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The production electric car is now a reality, with a number of the big automotive manufacturers selling them and many more having parallel electric hybrids in production. Parallel hybrids are used in Formula One and are widely used in endurance racing too, courtesy of some brave changes in the regulations. In 2014, we have also seen Formula E emerge as a global race series, pure electric racecars competing on circuits around the world, with some big names involved. Electric motorcycle...

Why don’t we see more of flywheel hybrids?

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Motorsport has had an involvement with hybrid technology for more than the past five years. The Panoz Q9 from the late 1990s, often called ‘Sparky’, hardly set the world alight, but the technology was very immature compared to the level we are at now. In the mid-2000s, the FIA proposed that Formula One should incorporate kinetic energy recovery from 2009 so, from 2006 onwards, motor racing companies were working on finding ways to harvest energy under braking, store it until at...

Power electronics for contemporary motorsport

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The new era in motorsport of energy recovery from exhaust gases, combined with regenerative braking, will hopefully make our ‘industry’ more attractive to sponsors, who worry about our less-than-exemplary environmental credentials, and to car manufacturers who in recent years have not seen the relevance of some of our engines. For purely electric drives as well as applications where electric hybrid systems are combined with an engine and exploit regenerative braking, there are...

The important role of motorsport in development

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Motorsport is a high-stakes game in terms of money and danger. Your opinion on whether it is anything other than a business, entertainment or a sport depends on your involvement – to the club-level participant it is very much a sport; to many of you reading this it represents a business opportunity or your livelihood; and some companies involved treat it as a marketing exercise. In Formula One, there are teams which are run as businesses and which have made some very astute people very...


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The development of electrical technology seems to have been exponential. Had the power failed a century ago, for example, some reasonably wealthy people would have been inconvenienced. If it happened today though, it is likely that civilisation would collapse into anarchy for a time, such is our dependence on electricity, the technology it allows and all its attendant benefits. It has been embedded in our cars and motorcycles for a long time: mechanical spark timing and fuel metering is...