Pennie Varvarides discovers how a lighting upgrade is giving an up-and-coming Formula 1 team a head start

Formula 1 racing dates back to the 1940s and many of the top teams have been racing for decades. Marussia F1, however, is the new kid on the block.

The team started life in 2010 as Virgin Racing before Marussia, the Russian sports car maker, bought it from its original owner Manor Motorsport. Having finished last in the 2011 constructor’s championship Marussia is hoping for a better performance in the current season with the help of drivers Timo Glock and Charles Pic.

Last year Marussia F1 moved to a new UK headquarters in Banbury, Oxfordshire, which it swiftly redeveloped to create a modern workspace – including an upgrade of its lighting.

Technicians need good lighting to help in their detailed assembly work

Detailed work

Making and maintaining F1 cars isn’t easy, and technicians at the factory do detailed assembly work, so it’s vital that they work in the best possible conditions. Marussia specifically wanted LED lighting, believing the technology had several advantages over fluorescent systems, and started a search for the best equipment. The team hoped LED would also help it keep maintenance costs down.

The brief was to supply good quality light for the assembly of cars in the workshop. Kevin Lee, operations manager for the Marussia F1 team, says they wanted to ‘fit and forget’ the lighting.

‘We chose the JCC Skytile to ensure a reduction in our energy and maintenance costs,’ says Lee, ‘and to create a lighting scheme that would support us for many years.’

The even light distribution on walls and ceilings means the installation is in line with guidance in the Society of Light and Lighting’s LG3 and LG7 workplace illumination guides.

The 4700K cool white recessed LED flat panels are rated IP44, so the fittings are protected against water spray and the ingress of small objects.

The JCC Skytile illuminates the Oxfordshire factory, where 140 technicians are responsible for building sophisticated Formula 1 cars, while the manufacturer’s LED downlighters are used in the reception area. Lee says the fittings give the right standard of light for the team’s ‘critical assembly work’.

The 34W LED fittings are expected to reduce energy costs across the site – cutting consumption by 60 per cent compared with T8 fluorescent tubes. Of course, the new fittings don’t just save energy, they also cut maintenance costs because the LEDs have expected lives of 40,000 hours and a five-year warranty. Also, the panels are easy to wipe clean.

Carbon curtailed

JCC supplied Marussia F1 with 113 Skytile fittings, which consume a total of 3.84kW compared with 11.75kW with T8s. The fall in energy use has led to a cut in CO2 emissions of 18.78t.

The building is in use for about 12 hours a day all year round, and the LEDs are expected to last for nine years before they have to be replaced. In contrast, the fluorescents had a life expectancy of about two-and-a-half years and the total maintenance cost for the T8s came to nearly £2,000 a year.

Total annual savings from the new lighting are over £6,000 – including energy, maintenance and general operational costs, meaning the scheme should pay for itself in less than two years.

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