McLaren Applied Technologies heads to this week's Indy 500 celebrating the 10th anniversary of its partnership with the IndyCar Series.
It’s a particularly appropriate venue at which to celebrate the landmark: McLaren will return to the legendary oval to compete in a works capacity for the first time in almost 40 years.
Applied Technologies is proud to be the sole supplier of Electronic Control Units (ECUs) to not only the IndyCar Series, but also the FIA Formula 1 World Championship and NASCAR Cup Series.
In just 10 years, the company has forged an impressive reputation in the USA’s premier single-seater category. From 2007 to 2012, Honda Performance Development (HPD) was the championship’s sole engine supplier. HPD chose Applied Technologies as their preferred ECU supplier, using the TAG-400 management system.
In 2012, Chevrolet joined the series, providing an alternative engine supply. This was also the year in which IndyCar introduced a new chassis (the Dallara DW12) and specified a standard ECU, selecting McLaren to supply every team with the TAG-400i - a control unit which is used in IndyCar to this day.
The Indy-spec ECU controls the direct injection, turbo-charged engine and needs to be robust enough to withstand the stresses of a duty-cycle that requires constant high rpm around speedways and superspeedways.
By contrast, a Formula 1 ECU has a markedly different duty-cycle; it experiences constant changes in acceleration and deceleration – none more so than at a circuit like Monaco, where McLaren will coincidentally race on the same day as it makes history in Indianapolis.
IndyCar operations are handled by a dedicated McLaren Applied Technologies' North American service headquarters in North Carolina, which can handle post-sale servicing, software support, trackside assistance and other operations. Applied Technologies’ complementary real-time data telemetry system ATLAS is used throughout IndyCar. The next generation of ATLAS, which will provide competitors with a more accessible system and faster processing power, is already in development.
Although Applied provides standardised solutions across multiple motorsport series, the technology itself is anything but standard. The strain that research and development puts on any team, both in terms of resource and budget, is immense – Applied Technologies’ technical involvement helps make motorsport accessible and ensures teams start on a level playing field. It provides teams with sustainable, race-competitive solutions.
Rodi Basso, McLaren Applied Technologies Motorsport Director, explains:
"The Indy 500 is the perfect occasion to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our partnership with IndyCar. In that time, we have been the trusted supplier of electronic control units (ECUs), temperature- and pressure-sensors and other high-performance electronic components.
"Our relationship with the series continues to go from strength to strength."
Applied Technologies’ plans for the future are impressively ambitious. It aims to expand its portfolio to support more race series across the world, and is reviewing its product range to guarantee user-friendly systems across all series, allow participants to make the critical difference.
As Basso himself explains: "We don’t sell systems to run cars, we sell systems to win races."
Furthermore, Applied Technologies is also proposing to marry its pedigree in motorsports with its expertise in health and health monitoring to create the ultimate team and driver development package. Applied Technologies wants to ensure drivers are able to operate at their absolute peak in order to perform to their maximum capability. “We believe that ambition is a central part of the future of motorsport,” says Basso.
"We’re in the process of planning a state-of-the-art McLaren Human Performance Centre, which will be headed up by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr Adam Hill. It will combine cutting-edge medical technologies with data analytics, providing us with a fresh and unique insight into human performance development.
"We’ll also have access to the latest scientific research and innovations through a vast spread of cross-industry and academia collaborations, including Oxford Medical School and Imperial College London. It’s an exciting time for Applied Technologies and we’ll continue to push the boundaries both on and off the track as we continue to develop and grow."