“We want to reach pole position“

ebm-papst is team partner to the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula 1 racing team. But what does that mean? Rainer Hundsdörfer, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the ebm-papst Group, answered these questions in our interview.


Mr. Hundsdörfer, ebm-papst’s business stands for green technology and sustainability. Isn’t this rather incompatible with Formula 1?

Absolutely not, I should say, on the contrary. In fact, we can see a radical change taking place in Formula 1. Speed at all costs has become a thing of the past and energy efficiency is playing a key role now. As of the start of the current season, the classic internal combustion engine has become just a part of the drive package that the engineers refine to be as ecologically viable as possible. The racing teams no longer speak of the engine, they rather use the term “power unit”. This way of seeing things is completely in line with our business philosophy which is not being and becoming even better, but also more sustainable.

Isn’t this turnaround in Formula 1 just window dressing?

The people responsible are really taking it seriously, I am convinced of that. If Formula 1 wants to still exist in ten years’ time, this step is an important one and the right one. Production car manufacturers like Daimler and Honda have given their explicit support to the decision and see this development as an opportunity, as Formula 1 has long been an important testing ground for series development. In recent years, racing car technology has had increasingly little to do with everyday cars, so that is changing now. New approaches to hybrid technology or energy recovery can be applied quite well to and into production cars.

What does the term “team partnership” mean exactly? Isn’t it just another name for sponsoring?

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Chairman of the Board of Directors of the ebm-papst Group.

No, we are more than just a sponsor. You won’t see our logo plastered over Nico Rosberg’s car. We can’t afford to do that and wouldn’t want to either. What we do want to benefit from is the innovative strength of the development team at MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS. We have high hopes in the filed of aerodynamics, for example. Aerodynamic efficiency is an elementary concept in development work, whether you are developing fans or racing cars. So in this team partnership, we share our knowledge with each other and encourage regular exchange. Moreover, one thing we are really keen on learning from the Formula 1 developers is, of course, development speed. The shift to sustainability has proven how quickly our colleagues can implement new technologies. In just a few months, they have given life to a whole new drive system with their power units.

Where does MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS use ebm-papst products?

In a lot of areas in and around the race track. So not in the car itself, but that is our long-term aim. If you look closely though, you will find our fans already being used in the pit lane. It is especially worth keeping an eye out during qualifying, as ebm-papst fans are used to cool the vehicle electronics and the drivers themselves in between rounds. Apart from these special applications, the racing team want to significantly redesign their factories. As part of the partnership, we advise our colleagues on how they can use our products to modify their buildings and machinery to be more energy efficient.

In what ways may we profit from this partnership?

We see our involvement in Formula 1 as an investment that will pay off in the future. As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot we can learn from our new colleagues. Furthermore, we generally want to better position ourselves more on the automotive market. Previously we have been a niche provider in this sector, but now we want to reach pole position. If we go about this in the right way, we can use the partnership to generate a lot of interest among the right people.

What happens if the partnership does not live up to your expectations?

We will of course always cast a critical eye over the results and decide whether they meet our expectations. Should there be developments in the Formula 1 rules that move away from energy efficiency and sustainability, we could end involvement prematurely. But we do not really expect this to happen – we rather think we shall be involved for the period of three years agreed on now. This should give us enough time to get to know each other and establish a stimulating exchange of knowledge. The partnership is a massive opportunity for us to boost our public image as a green high-tech company. Naturally, we want to seize that opportunity.

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