Here's a brain-teaser for you. What connects Prodrive technical director David Lapworth, chief engineer at Williams Advanced Engineering Doug Campling and IndyCar's Dr Terry Trammell? On the face of it, you'd think not a whole lot beyond their shared membership of the cadre of career-long motorsport professionals.
Prodrive has shown no indication that it plans to follow McLaren into IndyCar and, while its proven EV credentials with Formula E would make WAE a credible partner to any engine manufacturer preparing for the arrival of hybrid power to IndyCar in 2022, it's still very early days. In fact, the connection is much less obvious.
Each is a member of the FIA's Research Working Group (RWG), a little-known but highly influential body of engineers drawn from across the spectrum of motorsport - as well as medical experts and ex-Formula 1 driver Timo Glock - that collaborates on matters of safety, including cockpit safety devices, industry standards and crash investigations.
It began in its current form in 2015, when the Global Institute for Motor Sport Safety took over the mantle for research from the FIA Institute, and is taking on a growing importance now that the FIA has consolidated all elements of safety research in-house.
Its chairman is Prof Gerard Saillant, the president of the FIA Medical Commission, but the agenda is set by the FIA's head of research, British engineer Tim Malyon (below).
"We have the funding and the drive from the president [Jean Todt] to grow the group, so that we can achieve more in the field of safety but also take on more and varied engineering disciplines as well," explains Malyon.
Formerly Sebastian Vettel's performance engineer at Red Bull, Malyon was hired from BMW last year and together with fellow RWG members - invited either by FIA safety director Adam Baker, secretary general for sport Peter Bayer, or Todt himself - has oversight into every step of ongoing research projects.
In all, 31 were reviewed in 2018, of which 23 were deemed to be on target.
Actioned projects pass three times through the RWG before being pushed up the chain to the Safety Commission, chaired by Patrick Head, which conducts final due diligence checks before a formal vote at the World Motor Sport Council
"It isn't a sign-off body, it's meant to be a working group," Malyon says.
"That's why it's important to have the diverse membership with experience in a variety of disciplines, as well as the driver input."
Among these is Sam Michael, who held senior leadership positions at Williams and McLaren during a 21-year stint in F1 until 2014 and retains involvement in the industry as a member of the board for the Australian Institute for Motorsport Safety (AIMSS).
"With AIMSS and the FIA Research Working Group, it was just about giving something back to the sport - and not just F1, because it covers all motorsport," says Michael, whose primary focus is running a company specialising in machine learning and automation.
"What's really powerful is it's a joint effort with safety experts from across the world, studying the feasibility and technical aspects of any safety research project.
"I enjoy it and it's somewhere I can still easily make a contribution without taking away too much of my time from either my business and non-motor-racing work."
Once an idea for a new project is put forward and approved by the FIA's Research Strategy Group, it's allocated to a research engineer to engage with competitors, officials, research agencies and industrial partners before completing a preliminary feasibility study.
Typically, actioned projects will pass three times through the RWG before being pushed up the chain to the Safety Commission, chaired by Sir Patrick Head, which conducts final due diligence checks before a formal vote at the World Motor Sport Council.
First, projects are subjected to a peer review to discuss the proposed direction of research. Then, following a loop of research to generate results, they are subjected to another peer review before a final vote once the desired outcome is reached.
"A lot of the proposals that come through are very sensible in terms of what they want to achieve," says Michael, Head's successor as Williams technical director in 2004.
"Sometimes they will just go straight through because you'll do a pre-read, discuss it during the meeting and agree that they should just get on with it. They're put together by good, solid engineers that have spent a lot of time looking through data."
Its benefits are twofold. For one, it yields innovations that make motorsport safer - such as a harness system adopted by Formula E in 2016, which triggered a light on the car's nose to notify the race director when the driver had correctly fastened their belts following the mid-race car swap - and gives industry stakeholders access to the latest safety research, such as ongoing work to minimise risk of spinal fractures, which can be factored into their own working practices.
"I see it not only as my job to make sure that we're presenting good conclusions and results from projects, but also in some way to help the members of the group keep abreast of critical topics in motorsport that we're observing as the FIA," says Malyon.
Having spent the duration of his career to date as part of a competitive team set-up, Malyon welcomes the RWG's "open and collaborative" environment.
While its members can all lay claim to illustrious careers in the sport, Malyon says there is refreshing absence of ego involved as all participants are giving up their time - and in some cases, making themselves available for discussion on specific topics between the official meetings in Paris - in pursuit of a shared goal.
"It's an altruistic target," he says.
"I have monthly calls with John Patalak [NASCAR] and Glen Gray [NHRA], so the Research Working Group is the formal tip of the iceberg. Those guys are available when we need them, which is really helpful."
"We're there to give an independent, expert, solely safety-focused view of 'Is this good, or does this need more work?'" Sam Michael
The philosophy of collaboration the RWG espouses is nothing new. In response to the tragedies at Imola in 1994, the FIA formed the Expert Advisory Safety Committee, later absorbed into the FIA Institute upon its creation in 2004, to improve safety in F1.
Chaired by the forward-thinking Prof Sid Watkins and including input from race director Charlie Whiting, driver representative Gerhard Berger and Tyrrell technical director Harvey Postlethwaite, it culminated in higher crash-testing standards, improvements in cockpit protection and the introduction of the frontal head restraint in 2002.
But while Michael says "nine times out of 10 you would get a good consensus" on matters of safety in F1 technical groups, there were still occasions when good intentions were scuppered by self-interest, particularly when the subject touched on nose designs.
"That was an area where you could sometimes struggle to get a compromise that might be the best thing for safety," recalls Michael. "Once you had invested in a certain aero design, then you struggled to get away from it.
"The time that the technical directors and sporting directors allocate towards safety is good and respectful, but they have a very different set of priorities."
Michael therefore agrees that the RWG benefits from the absence of ulterior motives.
"One of the advantages where you're not on a team is you're purely thinking about what will be the best thing for safety, not, 'How can you exploit this?'" he continues.
"We're there to give an independent, expert, solely safety-focused view of, 'Is this good, or does this need more work?'"
Malyon sees the RWG as primarily an "open forum for discussion", so it should come as little surprise that meetings typically last between four and five hours - "It's quite a long one," he concedes - and have three core elements.
Each starts with projects for peer review that have some physical results from testing, a proposed design evolution or market analysis to discuss.
Once members have presented their feedback, they are asked to vote on projects that have previously been peer-reviewed and reached the conclusion of research, before members are presented with the latest accident investigations to keep them abreast of the developments in parallel working groups.
The RWG reviews all investigations conducted into fatal or serious accidents - such as the Formula 2 crash at Spa in which Anthoine Hubert lost his life last August - not only by the FIA, but also by other motorsport bodies that contribute to the Research Working Group, including IndyCar, NASCAR and the NHRA.
Cases of particular interest are also presented to the FIA Drivers' Commission, where its members are given the chance to comment and contribute to the definition of actions following the accident.
In future, Malyon expects the development of active safety systems incorporating electronics and control systems - such as the cockpit warning lights introduced to Supercars for last year's Bathurst 1000 - to take up much more of the RWG's time.
But in the meantime, he wants to see progress in the trickle-down of technology across a much broader base of motorsport, as the highly sophisticated safety systems developed for top categories are not economically feasible for club racers.
"If people on the competitive side of motorsport spent as much time thinking about safety as they do about something as small as tyre pressures, the topic would go forward at an amazing rate" Tim Malyon
"Probably something like 75% of the safety research conducted in the past is deployed in the top 15% of motorsport because there is the time, the drive, the financial commitment from the large motor manufacturers and teams to do that," Malyon says.
"But our job as the FIA is very much to keep motorsport safe for all competitors, which means pushing these devices down to the bottom 85% of the pyramid.
"We need to harness that technology to produce something as good or incredibly close to it, but is practically applicable in club motorsport."
It's not only a matter of driving down costs, but also considering practical questions involved with designing regulations suitable for mass-market deployment.
The scale of the challenge is huge, and Malyon accepts that there is an unwitting ignorance of the work that goes into generating standards and improving safety systems from engineers on the competition side.
"I didn't appreciate the work that was going on at the FIA until I got involved and didn't understand the complexity of how all these systems work together," he says.
"If people on the competitive side of motorsport spent as much time thinking about safety as they do about something as small as tyre pressures, the topic would go forward at an amazing rate."
There will always be scope for improvement, with freak incidents such as Alex Peroni's airborne crash in FIA Formula 3 at Monza posing previously unconsidered questions for regulators.
But with the brain-power the RWG has access to, don't rule out seeing more major steps forward in years to come.
Driver's view: Timo Glock
Given the number of ex-BMW personnel within the FIA safety department, including safety director Adam Baker, head of research Tim Malyon and head of circuit and rally safety Stuart Robertson, perhaps it should come as little surprise that BMW DTM racer Timo Glock is the driver representative in the FIA Research Working Group.
Yet Baker's invitation to Glock owed much more to the 37-year-old's diverse range of experience than to any BMW allegiance.
A veteran of 91 Formula 1 starts between 2004 and 2012, including three podium finishes, Glock was Champ Car rookie of the year in 2005, a GP2 champion in 2007 and is about to embark on an eighth seasons with BMW in the DTM, providing the RWG with an entirely different perspective.
"They want to have a view from every side - the doctors' side, the technical side and the drivers' side," says Glock.
Glock's ability to assess the ergonomics and practicality of safety devices to ensure the balance between safety concerns and competition remains in harmony is an invaluable asset
"Adam Baker asked me and I agreed straight away. There would have been any other driver who could do that, but I'm happy they called me.
"It's important that there is a driver because the engineers just see their world. It's a good experience for me as well to see what's going on in the background and the work that the FIA puts into safety improvements."
Malyon says Glock's knack for understanding topics and bringing them back to reality is an invaluable asset, not least when assessing the ergonomics and practicality of safety devices to ensure the balance between safety concerns and competition remains in harmony.
"Drivers have an incredible power of observation," he says.
"Particularly someone like Timo, who has a broad racing career, is very good at picking up on the practicality of ideas and the sporting and competitive aspect as well. The drivers really have an incredibly rounded view."