“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?


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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