Australia's richest man is buying the battery and technology arm of the Williams Formula One racing team for £164 m.

The mining giant, Fortescue Metals, is set to buy the Grove-based Williams Advanced Engineering from private equity firm EMK Capital and Williams Grand Prix Engineering.

Fortescue Metals aims to use the deal to achieve its carbon neutral targets of its mining operations by 2030.

One of the first major projects to be developed will be a battery train.

Fortescue's founder and chairman, Andrew Forrest, said in a statement: "This announcement is the key to unlocking the formula for removing fossil-fuel powered machinery and replacing it with zero carbon emission technology."

This move comes after Sir Frank Williams, founder and former team principal of Williams Racing died at the age of 79 in November.

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The team, based at Grove near Wantage, won the Formula One drivers’ title seven times and the constructors’ championship on nine occasions under Williams’ stewardship.

Oxford Mail: Sir Frank Williams

Sir Frank took his motor racing team from an empty carpet warehouse in Didcot to the summit of Formula One, overseeing 114 victories, a combined 16 drivers’ and constructors’ world championships, while becoming the longest-serving team boss in the sport’s history.

Dr Forrest said: “For decades, Sir Frank Williams’ F1 racing business was at the forefront of innovation in engineering and I thank him for his pioneering vision in founding WAE (Williams Advanced Engineering) over a decade ago. I was sorry to hear of his passing last year and I pay tribute to him. I have huge respect for him, his family and the Williams’ business.”

Dr Forrest is known for investing in sustainable energy projects.

Under the new deal, WAE will be integrated into the Fortescue's clean energy unit.

The Perth-based miner said it plans to use WAE's battery technology to power its freight trains, heavy industrial equipment and haulage trucks.

The company has been developing a prototype battery for heavy industrial use since early last year.

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Dr Forrest aims to transform the world's fourth-biggest iron ore producer into one of the world's leading clean energy producers in the next decade.

WAE, which calls itself "a world-leading technology and engineering business", was set up in 2010 by the Williams grand prix team to develop low carbon technology for vehicles.

The transaction is expected to conclude by the end of March 2022.

The move comes after the outgoing president of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) Formula One motor racing Jean Tod told the BBC that it will not be possible for the sport to go electric for decades

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