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Four Formula One teams, including world champions Mercedes, are mobilising to help with the production of 20,000 ventilators that will be vital over coming weeks by patients with severe coronavirus symptoms.
Mercedes, McLaren, Red Bull and Williams all have applied-technologies divisions that can accelerate the manufacture of ventilators, which remain in acutely short supply as the Covid-19 outbreak escalates across the UK.
An F1 spokesperson gave the strongest signal yet that the teams would respond to the government’s call for assistance, saying there was likely to be a “tangible outcome within days”.
Also involved are Innovate UK, which provides funding for research, and High Value Manufacturing Catapult, an organisation that links the academic world to technology businesses.
In a statement F1 said: “A collective of UK-based Formula 1 teams, engine manufacturers and their respective technology arms is evaluating support for the manufacture of respiratory devices in response to the UK Government’s call for assistance.
“Working with Innovate UK, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult team and UCL and University College London Hospitals, the teams are evaluating a number of routes in conjunction with existing manufacturers and organisations from the aerospace and automotive sectors.
“It is hoped this work, which is being rapidly progressed, will produce a tangible outcome in the next few days.”
Industrial giants like Rolls Royce, Jaguar Land Rover and Airbus have also been contacted.
Government figures say that the NHS currently has 5000 adult ventilators, and 900 examples for children.
The Agnelli family, which owns Fiat Chyrsler, Ferrari’s F1 and road operations, and Italian football giants Juventus, has already donated €10m (£9.3m) for the Italian government to deal with the coronavirus emergency.
The family has also purchased 150 ventilators and rolled out a fleet of vehicles to distribute food and medicine to a few cities in the north of the country.