Team Ineos has announced a new partnership with Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team and Ineos Team UK, the America’s Cup sailing team headed by Sir Ben Ainslie.
The agreement will see each of the teams share expertise on key performance elements such as aerodynamics, component design and manufacturing.
Details on actual developments are scant at the time of writing but, according to Team Ineos boss Sir Dave Brailsford, the three teams hope to “cross-pollinate” their “collective knowledge in science, technology, human performance and racing strategy to create even stronger winning environments.”
As you may have detected, there’s a slight whiff of business speak in the press release, but considering that Team Ineos’s (formerly Team Sky) past relationships with other motorsport manufacturers have led to the development of race-winning new bikes, such as the Pinarello Bolide HR and Dogma F8 (developed in partnership with Jaguar Land Rover), we might see something similar arise from this latest alliance.
Team principal Toto Wolff, who has led the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team to six consecutive Formula 1 drivers’ and constructors’ championships, said: “The technological demands of Formula 1 mean we are well-placed to support with advanced technical challenges in specific areas of sailing and cycling, with a particular focus on aerodynamics and the manufacturing capability around key components.”
Team Ineos had already announced in February 2019 a partnership with another Formula 1 aerodynamics specialist, Swiss Side, but there’s no word on whether the new relationship with Mercedes supersedes this, or if it’s simply an addition to Team Ineos’s line-up of experts and specialists.
Past, present and future
Collaborations with motorsport manufacturers have been de rigueur for top cycling teams and bicycle manufacturers ever since Chris Boardman and British Cycling famously collaborated with Lotus to build a series of cutting-edge bikes, starting with the 108 in 1992.
The recent departure of British Cycling and Team Ineos stalwart Rod Elllingworth to Bahrain-McLaren may have also prompted Team Ineos to go in search of further expertise. McLaren has been a previous collaborator with Specialized, a brand part-owned by Merida and the current bike supplier to the Bahrain-McLaren team.
The previous relationship between Specialized and McLaren produced the original Venge in 2011, which was arguably one of the key bikes in the aerodynamic revolution that started to gain traction after Mark Cavendish’s road race win at the 2011 UCI Road World Championships.
Ellingworth, then a coach with British Cycling, was a key figure in that victory and 2020 sees him and Cavendish reunited at Bahrain-McLaren, with the motorsport giant stepping as new co-sponsor of the team.
Though Team Ineos won the Tour de France again last year, taking its tally of Grand Tour wins to ten in nine years, the British-backed outfit doesn’t look to be resting on its laurels, aware that other deep-pocketed teams are itching to usurp it.
A short promotional video accompanying the announcement of the Mercedes partnership shows Team Ineos riders performing aerodynamic testing of time trial positions both in the wind tunnel and using computational fluid dynamics. What we’re most interested in, however, are the more exciting developments that may be under way, but that we’re not yet being shown.
With the recent relaxation of the UCI’s frame design rules, might we be seeing a new Pinarello time trial bike soon? Though it’s had a number of minor updates over the years, the Bolide originally debuted almost seven years ago at the 2013 Giro d’Italia, making it fairly long in the tooth.
And with new bikes like the Hope HB.T showing what’s possible within the updated rules, could we see something similarly radical, perhaps with more 3D-printed elements, from Team Ineos in 2020 and beyond?
Let us know what you think in the comments below.