Reinventing Formula 1 TECHNICAL


The reason why these races are so exciting is because every driver has the same car. So there are no excuses the driver can make. Formula 1 cannot have have standardized equipment because innovation in technology and design is a major aspect of the sport, apart from the wheel to wheel racing. However, with rising costs, and with bigger teams pulling away from the smaller teams on the track, there has to be some level of standardization. DTM, Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters now has standardised rear wings. Not only does this level the playing field, but it also forces designers to work on the other parts of the car, hence forcing them to become more creative. You can't standardised any aero parts on a Formula 1 car, as the aerodynamic package is what differentiates a McLaren from a Sauber. But if parts such as wheels, brakes, or even the nose cone were to be standardised, it would bring the teams closer together, and more importantly, force the engineers and designers to become more creative.

X-Ray of a Toyota Formula 1 car.

Formula 1 is not only meant to determine the best driver, but also to determine engineering brilliance. The original Lotus F1 team, with cars designed by Colin Chapman changed the face of Formula 1 as they were the first team to introduce the concept of "ground effect". The Lotus 79 was so fast that Lotus ran the same car for 3 years straight. Adrian Newey and James Allison, leading designers of the modern Formula 1 era were both given a slap on the wrist for coming up with brilliant ideas. Adrian Newey's cars have won 3 consecutive world championships. James Allison's Lotus was competitive enough to finish ahead of much bigger teams and was always in the equation in every race in 2012. They achieved this despite the FIA banning the ideas they came up with. Formula 1 is also a battle between engineers and the rule makers, and the drivers battle pales in comparison.

When a driver wins the drivers title, he picks up the trophy and goes home. No one benefits apart from the driver himself and his fans. When a Formula 1 car designer wins the battle against the rule makers, the benefits trickle down to the cars we drive and there is a positive and practical impact on our daily lives. Formula 1 should encourage creative thinking and try to lure manufacturers back into the sport. By doing so, we, the fans benefit, and we also get to see better racing. Porsche opted for Le Mans rather than re-enter Formula 1 as Le Mans sport cars have a greater relevance to road cars than F1 does.

DTM-The way forward for racing?

There aren't many parts that can be standardised on a Formula 1 car without negatively impacting the technical innovations by the teams. Perhaps by standardising parts that indirectly affect the aerodynamics, such as the nose cone, or size of the wing endplates, or by placing strict restrictions on the dimensions of certain elements of the front wing, some level of parity can be established, and yet still force the designers to think creatively. The FIA also has to stop punishing the engineers who find loopholes in the rules. Mercedes AMG's F-Duct in 2012 was banned for 2013, but Lotus and Sauber are working on a passive DRS system that stalls the rear wing and reduces drag and downforce dramatically. This is how it works.[link to earlier post]. This bit of technology is very exciting to many people, especially engineers and those with a technical bent of mind.

Formula 1 has to find a way to encourage and reward teams who can find real world applications of their innovations that help their Formula 1 cars go faster. Ferrari for instance has upgraded their customer 599XX cars with KERS and a DRS wing. But with changing times, Formula 1 also has to change. Instead of concentrating their efforts on road safety issues, there should be an emphasis on technology that helps road cars become more efficient. This will not only help Formula 1's image, but perhaps, also attract grants from various organisations to help develop specific materials and processes that will eventually help road cars become more efficient. After all, a Formula 1 car is a pushing the limits of physics every time it goes racing, and is the best place to try out new ideas. It's a fast moving laboratory, testing components to their limits.

Japanese Super GT

This year, both Lotus and Mercedes have developed a passive hydraulic ride control system that allows the suspension to pitch forward, backward or side to side, to allow the aerodynamics to works more efficiently. Lotus, Williams, and Sauber are teams who give a lot of focus to the mechanical aspect of the car rather than aerodynamical. In the era of Pirelli tyres, the benefits are clear. These cars are kinder to their tyres. Red Bull Racing, who tend to concentrate on the aerodynamic aspect, have a lot of downforce. But the excessive downforce destroys their tyres. It's no secret that they are very successful on tracks where harder compounds are used. They have also been quite vocal about their need for harder compound tyres. Now aerodynamics will not help your car, stuck in traffic. However advancements in mechanical aspects will. Observers have often said that the Lotus glides on the track surface, and this is down to their trick suspension. I would love to have an adapted version of this suspension fitted to my car. Standardising parts isn't practical for F1. However, changing the rules so that teams who focus on the mechanical aspect of the car are rewarded is a good step to ensure that some of the technology will finally be put in good use. The Japanese Super GT series adds extra weight to race winners to ensure that the playing field remains level. This isn't practical for F1, so why not increase the minimum weight for cars with higher downforce? Higher points of downforce the car generates, increase the minimum weight they have to adhere to. Taking the car with the least downforce as a baseline.

There are many other ways of levelling the field, but what the correct method should ensure is that technical innovation is continued, and the driver is forced to push hard every lap.

You Might Also Like


what do you think?