The coolest Team in Formula One

Even in hot races, the engi­neers from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport Team don’t work up a sweat with their garage cooling system from ebm-papst.

Formula One can be a hot busi­ness, for the drivers in the racing cars, for the audi­ence in the sun-bleached stands, and also for the engi­neers who work in the team garage to prepare the cars for qual­i­fying and racing. Paddy Lowe, Exec­u­tive Director (Tech­nical) at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport, knows all about that: “At circuits in hot climates such as Malaysia, temper­a­tures in the garage can reach 40 degrees Celsius – and that’s compounded with almost unbear­ably high humidity.

In this envi­ron­ment it’s a real chal­lenge for the team and drivers to main­tain concen­tra­tion and main­tain peak perfor­mance over the four-day race weekend.” So it’s a good thing that Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport has ebm papst, the cooling experts, as a Team Partner. “When we were discussing how to shape our coop­er­a­tion, garage cooling quickly became a priority issue,” says Gareth Jones, Managing Director of ebm-papst Auto­mo­tive & Drives (UK) Ltd. So ebm-papst, together with a long-time partner, took a close look at the problem and devel­oped a system for cooling the team garage at circuits which have high ambient temper­a­tures and no air condi­tioning system.

Flex­ible system


The textile ducting can be indvid­u­ally adapted to the layout of the garage at different circuits.

There was a wide range of require­ments which needed to be consid­ered. The solu­tion needed to be portable, resis­tant to water and dust, easy to install and remove and most impor­tantly, provide a notice­able cooling effect to the team. “To reduce the weight, we decided in favor of a water-cooled air condi­tioner, which is consid­er­ably lighter and smaller than an air-cooled unit,” explains Gareth Jones. While an air-cooled system would have weighed several thou­sand kilo­grams, the water-cooled unit only weighs in at 350 kilo­grams – and it’s very compact: 1.30 meters wide, 2.10 meters high and 90 centime­ters deep.

An addi­tional chal­lenge arose from the different layouts of the garages at the different Formula One circuits around the world. The team from Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport divides the space into various areas such as body­work, gearbox, wings, engi­neering, IT and tires as well as the working area for the two race cars. Two of the system’s air outlets cool the working area imme­di­ately adja­cent to the cars at the front of the garage while an addi­tional outlet ensures cool temper­a­tures in the guest viewing area to the rear of the cars. However, the cooling unit itself needs to be located in the rear part of the garage to avoid taking up too much space.


Textile ducts trans­port the cool air from the cooling unit over up to 25 meters into the area where the engi­neers work at the cars and into the guest viewing area.

There­fore, ebm-papst selected textile ducts for air transfer throughout the garage. The ducting is very light but durable, compact for easy trans­port, and can be easily adapted to the size and layout of the garage. Depending on the garage, the air may be trans­ported over as far as 25 meters from the rear part of the garage to the desired area. To ensure strong air flow at the end of such long chan­nels, there is an effi­cient, high-perfor­mance RadiPac EC centrifugal fan installed in the cooling unit.

Endurance test in Malaysia


Before using it during an offi­cial race, ebm-papst tested the garage cooling under demanding climat­ical condi­tions.

The garage cooling system passed its first live test at the Italian Grand Prix in early September 2014. “Every­thing worked as we’d hoped and the system achieved the desired cooling effect without diffi­culty,” says Jones. For the next step, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport used a pit lane garage at the Sepang Inter­na­tional Circuit in Malaysia for three days in February. However, the system failed to achieve the desired results. “The ambient temper­a­ture in Malaysia was consid­er­ably higher than in Italy, so at first we weren’t able to generate a percep­tibly cool air current in the desired areas.

That wasn’t because of the cooling system’s perfor­mance; the air transfer was the problem,” explains Jones. He had parts of the textile air duct system trans­ported to Britain and tailored them to deliver consid­er­ably stronger air flow at the crit­ical areas of the garage. ebm-papst also changed the orien­ta­tion of the air outlets. “Instead of trying to cool the air throughout the entire front area, we designed diffusers to direct the cool air where the engi­neers work,” says Jones.

Using the modi­fied compo­nents, his asso­ciates at ebm-papst in Malaysia performed the next test in a factory building with an improved and satis­fac­tory result: the cooling system reduced the temper­a­ture at the crit­ical areas by almost 12 degrees Celsius — from hot and sweaty to comfort­able.

“The comfort­able temper­a­tures in the garage were a huge help and enabled the team to perform to the best of our ability.”

Paddy Lowe, Exec­u­tive Director (Tech­nical) at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport

The system survived its baptism of fire in prac­tical use at the Malaysian Grand Prix in late March. “We were really looking forward to having the ebm-papst cooling system oper­a­tional in our garage in Malaysia. During the race weekend, the pace of work is extremely hectic, and it can be a really tough chal­lenge for the drivers, engi­neers and mechanics in the partic­u­larly high heat and humidity loca­tions. It was a huge help to us that the temper­a­ture in the garage was comfort­able, enabling the team to perform to the best of our ability.” empha­sises Paddy Lowe. During the race weekend, the system brought the temper­a­tures in the crit­ical areas down by up to nine degrees Celsius.


Because it’s working with water the cooling unit does not take up much space and can be easily trans­ported.

Now the Formula One team will use the garage cooling system at all race circuits in Asia where temper­a­tures are high and where no air condi­tioning exists in the pit lane garages. Using its global network of subsidiaries, ebm-papst manages the storage and logis­tics between the races — an addi­tional facet of the part­ner­ship with the team. Gareth Jones is pleased that he and his colleagues were able to improve working condi­tions consid­er­ably for the engi­neers at the race­track. “I always promised the team at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motor­sport: ‘We’re going to offi­cially make you the coolest team in Formula One,’” he says with a laugh.

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  • This is very compli­cated, good work from the engi­neers. Thank for sharing to us this article.

  • Tony Farrell on said:

    It is just like all the rest with Mercedes AMG Petronas : AWESOME