Mercedes F1 engine factory now producing 1,000 breathing aids a day


Breathing device developed by Mercedes engineers and UCLH clinicians now approved and in production for the NHS

Mercedes Brixworth factory

Mercedes-AMG HPP Brixworth factory


Mercedes has repurposed its entire Formula 1 engine factory to produce breathing apparatus for hospitals.

Up to 1,000 devices per day are being produced for the NHS in Brixworth, Northamptonshire, using 40 machines that would normally produce pistons and turbochargers for Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas’ engines.

The breathing aids were developed, from existing designs, in fewer than 100 hours. Engineers from Mercedes High Performance Powertrains (HPP) worked with clinicians at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) on the apparatus, known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).

Mercedes UCLH CPAP machine

CPAP machine


The device helps patients with serious lung infections to breathe more easily when oxygen alone is insufficient, and can reduce demand for the limited supply of ventilators.

The government has ordered 10,000 of the machines for the NHS, and the blueprints are being made freely available to manufacturers around the world.

“Since the project was announced, we have received an incredible number of enquiries about the CPAP device from around the world,” said Andy Cowell, Managing Director of Mercedes-AMG HPP. “Making the design and manufacturing specifications openly available will allow companies around the world to produce these devices at speed and at scale to support the global response to Covid-19.”

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The CPAP device received approval from Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency last week, following evaluations at hospitals in London.

Professor Michael Arthur, University College London (UCL) President & Provost said: “This demonstrates what extraordinary things can be achieved when universities, hospitals and industry work together for the national good.

“These devices, which can play a vital role in keeping patients out of intensive care, have been produced in just a couple of weeks as a result of the close collaboration between UCL, UCLH and HPP. The UCL community is incredibly proud of the entire team behind this breakthrough.”

The CPAP project is part of a wider Project Pitlane response by Formula 1 to develop technology to alleviate the coronavirus pandemic.

Williams has been re-engineering a ventilator and developing prototype parts as part of a consortium that also includes McLaren, as well as Rolls-Royce, Airbus and BAE Systems.