The cabins of Aston Martin World Endurance Championship GT cars are about to get a lot cooler … thanks to the power of the sun.
Along with all the new efficiency regulations for LMP1 cars, the FIA has also dictated that the GT car class must also meet new standards. One that’s leaving racing teams struggling is the new mandate that the GT cars run air conditioning during races, keeping the cabin at 32 degrees centigrade or 12 degrees cooler than the outside temperature.
Ostensibly, this is to keep the drivers cool when they’re racing in Austin and Bahrain. But, really, it’s about pushing the technological forefront of in-car energy management.
So why does this new mandate have race teams reeling? Simply, running A/C sucks power from the engine needed for acceleration and lap times. Keen not to lose even a modicum of precious power, Aston Martin has teamed with Beijing-based Hanergy Global Solar to develop solar panel films for the back windows of its GT cars.
Worried Aston is going soft (or green)? Think again.
“We aren’t looking at solar power technology for our race cars because it is a green option,” explains Aston Martin Racing’s Team Principal John Gaw. “We are looking at how we can use the power of the sun to improve the comfort of our race cars for our drivers and therefore increase our performance on track. However, we are looking at how we can improve our green credentials as a business now that we are moving to new premises.”
Ideally adding enough power to run in-car accessories, the film would neither add much weight nor obstruct the rearview of the driver, which is essential to winning at a place like Le Mans, where every ounce counts.
Why does this matter? If the technology proves efficient and effective, the solar films could be applied to future production cars. That means your Aston can use all its horses pushing you down the road, rather than keeping you cool. You know, if you weren’t cool enough behind the wheel of an Aston.