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A modern Formula One car has almost as much in common with a jet fighter as it does with an ordinary road car. Aerodynamics have become key to success in the sport and teams spend tens of millions of dollars on research and development in the field each year. The aerodynamic designer has two primary concerns: the creation of downforce, to help push the car's tyres onto the track and improve cornering forces; and minimising the drag that gets caused by turbulence and acts to slow the car down. Several teams started to experiment with the now familiar wings in the late 1960s. Race car wings operate on exactly the same principle as aircraft wings, only in reverse. Air flows at
different speeds over the two sides of the wing (by having to travel different distances over its contours) and this creates a difference in pressure, a physical rule known as Bernoulli's Principle. As this pressure tries to balance, the wing tries to move in the direction of the low pressure. Planes use their wings to create lift, race cars use theirs to create downforce. A modern Formula One car is capable of developing 3.5 g lateral cornering force (three and a half times its own weight) thanks to aerodynamic downforce. That means that, theoretically, at high speeds they could drive upside down. Early experiments with movable wings and high mountings led to some spectacular accidents, and for the 1970 season regulations were introduced to limit the size and location of wings. Evolved over time, those rules still hold largely true today. By the mid 1970s 'ground effect' downforce had been discovered. Lotus engineers found out that the entire car could be made to act like a wing by the creation of a giant wing on its underside which would help to suck it to the road. The ultimate example of this thinking was the Brabham BT46B, designed by Gordon Murray, which actually used a cooling fan to extract air from the skirted area under the car, creating enormous downforce. After technical challenges from other teams it was withdrawn after a single race. And rule changes followed to limit the benefits of 'ground effects' - firstly a ban on the skirts used to contain the low pressure area, later a requirement for a 'stepped floor'. Despite the full-sized wind tunnels and vast computing power used by the aerodynamic departments of most teams, the fundamental principles of Formula One aerodynamics still apply: to create the maximum amount of downforce for the minimal amount of drag. The primary wings mounted front and rear are fitted with different profiles depending on the downforce requirements of a particular track. Tight, slow circuits like Monaco require very aggressive wing profiles - you will see that cars run two separate 'blades' of 'elements' on the rear wings (two is the maximum permitted). In contrast, high-speed circuits like Monza see the cars stripped of as much wing as possible, to reduce drag and increase speed on the long straights. Every single surface of a modern Formula One car, from the shape of the suspension links to that of the driver's helmet - has its aerodynamic effects considered. Disrupted air, where the flow 'separates' from the body, creates turbulence which creates drag - which slows the car down. Look at a recent car and you will see that almost as much effort has been spent reducing drag as increasing downforce - from the vertical end-plates fitted to wings to prevent vortices forming to the diffuser plates mounted low at the back, which help to reequalise pressure of the faster-flowing air that has passed under the car and would otherwise create a low-pressure 'balloon' dragging at the back. Despite this, designers can't make their cars too 'slippery', as a good supply of airflow has to be ensured to help dissipate the vast amounts of heat produced by a modern Formula One engine. In recent years most Formula One teams have tried to emulate Ferrari's 'narrow waist' design, where the rear of the car is made as narrow and low as possible. This reduces drag and maximises the amount of air available to the rear wing. The 'barge boards' fitted to the sides of cars also helped to shape the flow of the air and minimise the amount of turbulence. Revised regulations introduced in 2005 forced the aerodynamicists to be even more ingenious. In a bid to cut speeds, the FIA robbed the cars of a chunk of downforce by raising the front wing, bringing the rear wing forward and modifying the rear diffuser profile. The
Brakes When it comes to the business of slowing down. The new rules take the cars into another new era. The principle of braking is simple: slowing an object by removing kinetic energy from it. too much braking will cause it to lock as the brakes overpower the available levels of grip from the tyre. Braking therefore remains one of the sternest tests of a Formula One driver's skill. but as ever Formula One‟s best brains will be working flat out to make up the performance shortfall as quickly as possible. This turns a car's momentum into large amounts of heat and light . however.designers quickly clawed back much of the loss. In the same way that too much power applied through a wheel will cause it to spin. The changes are designed to promote overtaking by making it easier for a car to closely follow another. All this will make the cars slower initially. most modern road cars can lay claim to having considerably cleverer retardation. Formula One cars have disc brakes (like most road-cars) with rotating discs (attached to the wheels) being squeezed between two brake pads by the action of a hydraulic calliper. with the driver now able to make limited adjustments to the front wing from the cockpit during a race. Formula One previously allowed anti-skid braking systems (which would reduce the brake pressure to allow the wheel to turn again and then continue to slow it at the maximum possible rate) but these were banned in the 1990s. Formula One cars are surprisingly closely related to their road-going cousins. Most of those innovations have been effectively outlawed under the even more stringent aerodynamic regulations imposed by the FIA for 2009. taller and narrower rear wings. Indeed as ABS anti-skid systems have been banned from Formula One racing. Perhaps the most interesting change. and generally much „cleaner‟ bodywork. with a variety of intricate and novel solutions such as the „horn‟ winglets first seen on the McLaren MP4-20. is the introduction of „moveable aerodynamics‟. with lower and wider front wings. .note the way Formula One brake discs glow yellow hot.
So good are the brakes that the regulations deliberately discourage development through restrictions on materials or design. (Think of what would happen if you tried to slow down a skateboard with a tennis ball on it). Previously different sized discs would be used for qualifying and racing.The technical regulations also require that each car has a twin-circuit hydraulic braking system with two separate reservoirs for the front and rear wheels. From 2009 teams have the option of harnessing the waste energy generated by the car‟s braking process and reusing it via a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) to provide additional engine power. but the 2003 changes to the rules means that all cars enter parc ferme after qualifying . braking should still be available through the second circuit. These are gripped by special compound brake pads and are capable of running at vast temperatures . Under normal operation about 60 percent of braking power goes to the front wheels which. All the cars on the grid now use carbon fibre composite brake discs which save weight and are able to operate at higher temperatures than steel discs. take the brunt of the retardation duties. allowing a driver to stabilise handling or take account of falling fuel load. even in the event of one complete circuit failure. It takes a Formula One car considerably less distance to stop from 160 km/h than a road car uses to stop from 100 km/h. Formula One brakes are remarkably efficient.5 kg (versus 3.0 kg for the similar sized steel discs used in the American CART series). because of load transfer under deceleration.and so therefore set their one-lap time on their race brakes. A typical Formula One brake disc weighs about 1. In one area Formula One brakes are empirically more advanced than road-car systems: materials. This ensures that. Cornering . which can be made available to a driver in short bursts to help facilitate overtaking. In combination with the modern advanced tyre compounds they have dramatically reduced braking distances. The amount of braking power going to the front and rear circuits can be 'biased' by a control in the cockpit. to prevent even shorter braking distances rendering overtaking all but impossible.anything up to 750 degrees Celsius.
the lateral grip of cornering or . The very best are those who can extract the maximum amount from the tyres for as long as possible.' The tyres of a racing car have only a finite amount of grip to deliver. In an understeer situation the front end breaks free first. But it also slows down a car.once the car reduces speed sufficiently grip will be restored. Oversteer is. which is why almost all road cars are set up to understeer at the limit of adhesion. . The fundamental principle of efficient cornering is the 'traction circle.a combination of the two.Cornering is vital to the business of racing cars. releasing the brakes and feeding in the throttle to just the right degree not to overwhelm the available grip. Racing drivers overlap the different phases of braking. Oversteer is where the back end of the car loses adhesion and tries to overtake the front . It's the area where an ace pilot can extract the tiny advantage that makes the difference between winning and losing. On straights the battle tends to be determined by the power of engine and brakes.most likely in bends . They refer simply to the question of which end of the car runs out of grip first. Oversteer and understeer are vital to understanding the way a car corners. which is making the best use of the 'traction circle'. Understeer is inherently stable . It's the skilful exploitation of this overlap. the car running wide as centrifugal force takes over. This can be the longitudinal grip of braking and acceleration.think in terms of a road car's 'handbrake skid'. turning and applying power to try and make the tyre work as hard as possible for as long as possible. but come the corners and the driver's skill becomes more immediately apparent. and Formula One is no exception. which is why Formula One chassis engineers try to avoid it.
highly unstable. (A late apex can allow power to be applied earlier and can help to 'straighten out' the corner).turn-in. whether early or late (before or after the mid-point of the corner). the place where the transition between entry and exit is made. Weight transfer under braking. Different corners may have different natural apexes.and go there as often as possible. it enables a skilled driver to carry far more speed through a corner than understeer. A racing car takes a corner in three stages . The most successful drivers are consistently those who are best at judging the limits they can take their cars to under cornering . Unless a driver acts to correct it quickly with skilful use of steering and throttle it can result in a spin. Driver fitness . moving the effective mass of the car from the back axle to the front. The traction circle is also affected by grip levels (dramatically reduced on a wet or dirty bit of track). apex and exit. encourages oversteer during this phase. like it sounds. Which is why. all Formula One cars are set up with an oversteer characteristic. And the exit phase is where the driver will blend the throttle back in as the steering is progressively wound off: ideally keeping the car right on the edge of the traction circle through an acute sense of balance. Turn-in is. and even the subtle changes in the camber of the road (its side-on gradient). and individual drivers may also use different apexes according to their personal technique. But an 'oversteery' chassis helps the driver to turn into a corner and.by contrast. the broad term given to pointing the car into the corner. which the driver will use to help make the turn. The apex or 'clipping' point is the corner's neutral point. to a greater or lesser extent. at the limit of adhesion.
anything up to a sustained 3. also puts vast strain on the body: drivers can sweat off anything up to 3kg of their body weight during the course of a race. as they must support the weight of both the driver's head and his helmet under these intense loadings. although some drivers prefer cycling or even roller-blading! But the unusual loadings experienced by neck and chest muscles cannot be easily replicated by conventional gym equipment. In terms of nutrition. so many drivers use specially designed 'rigs' that enable them to specifically develop the muscles they will need to withstand cornering forces. means drivers have to be enormously strong to be able to last for full race distances. most Formula One drivers control their diets in much the same way as .5 g of cornering force. The vast loadings that Formula One cars are capable of creating. especially at the hotter rounds of the championship. their bodies specifically adapted to the very exacting requirements of top-flight single-seater motor racing. All drivers who enter Formula One need to undergo a period of conditioning to the physical demands of the sport: no other race series on earth requires so much of its drivers in terms of stamina and endurance. Physical endurance is created through intensive cardio-vascular training: usually running or swimming. Strong neck muscles are especially important. for example.Formula One drivers are some of the most highly conditioned athletes on earth. Powerful arm muscles are also required to enable the car to be controlled during longer races. The extreme heat found in a Formula One cockpit.
once the sport returned to normal aspiration in 1989 that figure fell back. the development of racing engines has always held to the dictum of the great automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche that the perfect race car crosses the finish line in first place and then falls to pieces. some of which were producing anything up to 750 bhp / litre.designing modern Formula One engines remains a balancing act between the power that can be extracted and the need for just enough durability. Revving at such massive speeds equates to an accelerative force on the pistons of nearly 9000 times gravity.000 RPM. a modern Formula One engine will consume a phenomenal 650 litres of air every second. In the 1950s Formula One cars were managing specific power outputs of around 100 bhp / litre (about what a modern 'performance' road car can manage now).regulations now require engines to last more than one race weekend . Unsurprisingly. engine-related failures remain one of the most common causes of retirements in races. the final year of 3 litre V10 engines. and the competition to have the most power on the grid is still intense. That figure rose steadily until the arrival of the 'turbo age' of 1.not surprising given that the physical endurance required to drive a Formula One race is not dissimilar to that required to run a marathon. Engine power outputs in Formula One racing are also a fascinating insight into how far the sport has moved on.4 litre V8 engines. pistons . Engine / gearbox The engine and transmission of a modern Formula One car are some of the most highly stressed pieces of machinery on the planet. Failure to do so could bring on dehydration through sweating . the regulations have required the use of 2. with race fuel consumption typically around the 75 l/100 km (4 mpg) mark.5 litre turbo engines. The 'power battle' of the last few years saw outputs creep back towards the 1000 bhp barrier. It is also vitally important that drivers take in large amounts of water before the race. Revving to a limited 18. with power outputs falling around 20 percent. Then. carefully regulating the amount of carbohydrate and protein that they absorb. Although this is no longer strictly true . before steadily rising again. During the race weekends proper most drivers will be seen eating pasta or other carbohydrate-rich foods to provide energy and to give the all-important stamina for the race itself. even if they do not feel thirsty. Traditionally. some teams producing more than 300 bhp / litre in 2005.track and field athletes. Since 2006. Modern Formula One engines owe little except their fundamental design of cylinders.
to help lower the car's centre of gravity and to enable the height of rear bodywork to be minimised. with drivers limited to eight engines per season. On top of these measures. each having to last four race weekends. a freeze on engine development imposed at the end of the 2006 season means teams are unable to alter the fundamentals of their engines‟ design until at least 2010. The gearboxes of modern Formula One cars are now highly automated with drivers selecting gears via paddles fitted behind the steering wheel. Mindful of the massive cost of these ultra high-tech powertrains. the FIA introduced new regulations in 2005 limiting each car to one engine per two Grand Prix weekends. The engine is a stressed component within the car. Transmissions . From 2008. compact and with its mass in as low a position as possible. bolting to the carbon fibre 'tub' and having the transmission and rear suspension bolted to it in turn. A conflicting demand is that it should be light. fully automatic transmission systems.a measure designed to keep costs down and place more emphasis on driver skill. Flags . with 10place grid penalties for those breaking the rule. and gearbox-related wizardry such as launch control.and valves to road-car engines. allowing gear changes to be made far faster than with the traditional „H‟ gate selector. The 'sequential' gearboxes used are very similar in principle to those of motorbikes. Despite such high levels of technology. a similar policy was applied to gearboxes. Therefore it has to be enormously strong. are illegal . 2009 saw the introduction of even more stringent engine rules.most teams run seven-speed units .bolt directly to the back of the engine. with the gearbox selectors operated electrically.
Yellow flag Indicates danger. A single waved yellow flag warns drivers to slow down. all used to communicate vital messages to the drivers as they race around the track. During practice and qualifying sessions it is waved at the allotted time. half white flag Accompanied by a car number. Overtaking is prohibited. it warns a driver that he has a mechanical problem and must return to his pit. Green flag All clear. Blue flag Warns a driver that he is about to be lapped and to let the faster car overtake. Black with orange circle flag Accompanied by a car number. usually due to oil or water. Pass three blue flags without complying and the driver risks being penalised. Yellow and red striped flag Warns drivers of a slippery track surface.known as a GPS marshalling system . Half black. Blue lights are also displayed at the end of the pit lane when the pit exit is open and a car on track is approaching.Marshals at various points around the circuit are issued with a number of standard flags. Red flag The session has been stopped. White flag Warns of a slow moving vehicle on track. while two waved yellow flags at the same post means that drivers must slow down and be prepared to stop if necessary. . it warns of unsporting behaviour. during the race it is shown first to the winner and then to every car that crosses the line behind him. Chequered flag Indicates to drivers that the session has ended. Traveling at such high speeds. it may be hard for a driver to spot a marshal‟s flag and this system helps them identify messages from race control more effectively. ahead. Black flag Accompanied by a car number.also lights up with the relevant flag colour. usually due to an accident or poor track conditions. such as a stranded car. as the driver passes the affected section of track. it directs a driver to return to his pit and is most often used to signal to the driver that he has been excluded from the race. May be followed by a black flag if the driver does not heed the warning. The driver has passed the potential danger point and prohibitions imposed by yellow flags have been lifted. A special display in each driver‟s cockpit .
which will be compared to the actual fuel being used at the event by the FIA's mobile testing laboratory.Fuel Surprising but true. Pit-stop refuelling is once again a vital part of Formula One. requiring air and vapour to be extracted as fuel is added. tuned for the demands of different circuits . During a typical season a Formula One team will use over 200. It was not always so. All of Formula One's fuel suppliers engage in extensive testing programmes to optimise the fuel's performance. Leakages are extremely rare. The fuel rigs are designed to operate as quickly and safely as possible. A 'fingerprint' of the approved fuel is then taken. a move driven in part by the oil companies' desire to have demonstrable links between race and road fuel. despite the vast amounts of technical effort spent developing a Formula One car. Early Grand Prix cars ran on a fierce mixture of powerful chemicals and additives. effectively banning the most volatile power-boosting additives. Another mechanic will stand by a fuel cut-off switch next to the pump itself. twostage location and double sealing ensuring the best possible fit. The hose itself operates as a 'sealed system'. The modern fuel is only allowed tiny quantities of 'non hydrocarbon' compounds. commercially available petrol. for prior approval of its composition and physical properties. the fuel it runs on is surprisingly close to the composition of ordinary. and an integral part of modern race strategy. This will likely involve computer modelling. Indeed some early fuels were so potent that the car's engine had to be disassembled and washed in ordinary petrol at the end of the race to prevent the mixture from corroding it! Over the years more and more regulations have been introduced regarding the composition of fuel. static engine running and moving tests. the FIA. in the same way any other component in the car will be tuned to give maximum benefit. alcohol and aviation fuel. and these can be of anything up to 50 slightly different blends. It is very heavy and requires one mechanic to hold its weight while another engages and disengages the nozzle. The rigs pass fuel at the rate of about 12 litres a second. Each fuel blend must be submitted to the sport‟s governing body.000 litres of fuel for testing and racing. although accidents .or even different weather conditions. often featuring large quantities of benzene. More potent fuels will give noticeably more power but may result in increased consumption or engine wear.
the mechanical energy doesn‟t change state and is therefore more efficient. There is one other option available. The device recovers the kinetic energy that is present in the waste heat created by the car‟s braking process.have happened. In contrast to the electrical KERS. . It stores that energy and converts it into power that can be called upon to boost acceleration. being closely analysed after each race or test for traces of metals to help monitor the engine's wear rate. When extra power is required. Once the energy has been harnessed. The electrical system looks like being the most popular. The mechanical system captures braking energy and uses it to turn a small flywheel which can spin at up to 80.battery (electrical) and flywheel (mechanical).hydraulic KERS. It uses a motor-generator incorporated in the car‟s transmission which converts mechanical energy into electrical energy and vice versa. Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) What is KERS? The acronym KERS stands for Kinetic Energy Recovery System. it is stored in a battery and released when required.000 rpm. The car's engine oil is also worth a mention. the flywheel is connected to the car‟s rear wheels. It helps to perform a vital diagnostic role. for example to Michael Schumacher at the 2003 Austrian Grand Prix. How does it work? There are principally two types of system . though it looks unlikely to be adopted .
Any teams using KERS and a relatively heavy driver will have even less freedom. Given that the ultimate costs and benefits of the system remain somewhat unclear.1s and 0. Will a car running KERS be heavier than one which is not running the system? No.will come into play. The predicted lap time benefit is expected to be around 0.when and where to use the KERS energy . Do the regulations place limitations on the use of KERS? Currently the regulations permit the systems to convey a maximum of 60kw (approximately 80bhp).where braking energy is used to accumulate hydraulic pressure which is then sent to the wheels when required. Logistics . or at different points around the circuit. Do teams have to use it? The use of KERS is not compulsory for 2009. there are limits on the device‟s use and therefore tactics . so lighter drivers could be at an advantage in 2009. A chasing driver can use his boost button to help him pass the car in front. The KERS systems are expected to weigh around 35 kilograms. How will the stored energy be released by the driver? The regulations stipulate that the release must be completely under the driver‟s control.3s. while the leading driver can use his boost button to escape. This means that the 80bhp is available for anything up to 6. Formula One cars must weigh at least 605kg (including the driver). Why has KERS been introduced? The aims are twofold. In line with the regulations. There will be a boost button on the steering wheel which can be pressed by the driver. which could be released either all in one go. This means that teams with KERS will have less ballast to move around the car and hence have less freedom to vary their car‟s weight distribution. but traditionally teams build the car to be considerably lighter and then use up 70 kg of ballast to bring it up to weight.67s per laps. do not be surprised if some team‟s 2009 machine‟s do not initially feature KERS. Firstly to promote the development of environmentally friendly and road car-relevant technologies in Formula One racing. while the storage capacity is limited to 400 kilojoules. and secondly to aid overtaking.
enabling telemetry and other data to be sent directly back (which in turn allows engineers to study any potential problems. Almost equally important. designed to fill all available space in the planes' holds. Rather than use conventional aircraft containers. so the logistical effort required to transport the teams and their equipment will expand alongside it. fuel and certain other equipment are brought separately by technical partners and local contractors. even while the race is running. As the number of races outside Europe continues to expand. For the non-European 'flyaway' races the logistical effort is considerably more complicated (all Formula One teams being resident in Europe at the moment) as equipment has to be flown out on transport planes. hire cars must be sourced and the team's facilities at the circuit . In the case of successive flyaway races (such as with the Chinese and Japanese Grands Prix in 2006) there is insufficient time between them to allow the teams' equipment to be brought 'home'. only half-jokingly. Nor is the logistical effort as simple as merely getting people and equipment in place. in the liveried articulated lorries which are such a familiar sight in race paddocks across the continent. All of the race equipment required for the weekend will be loaded in these: cars. an enormous task. meaning direct transit between the two races. This means that considerably more components have to be packed. are the secure data links that connect the team to its base.from the pit garage equipment to the drivers' motorhomes and the paddock corporate hospitality units must all be in place. At present most of the teams use cargo planes chartered by Formula One Management (FOM) which fly from London and Munich to wherever the race is being held. Most teams will 'pack' three cars. Already the amount of transport required for a season of Formula One has been described.000 kilometres (100. as being similar to that needed for a medium-sized military campaign.For Formula One racing teams one of the biggest battles of a race weekend or testing session will be over before a car even turns a wheel: the vast logistical effort required to get all of the team's equipment to the circuit. For the European rounds of the championship most of a team's equipment will travel by road.) All-in-all. Indeed each team competing in the FIA Formula One World Championship now travels something like 160. in this digital age. one spare chassis and several spare engines plus a full kit of other spares. teams have created their own specially designed cargo crates.000 miles) a year between races and test sessions with some of the larger constructors (running one or more test teams) doing considerably more than that. Hotel accommodation must also be found and booked (a team can require anything up to 100 rooms). Tyres. . spare parts and tools.
The problem comes with the second aerodynamic effect.often heading 'around the outside'. overtaking is of vital importance to the business of racing. This has two effects. The higher the speed difference. if a driver has more grip to call on (or more confidence. overtaking must be carried out with a very small difference in speed . and the entire grid wants to finish on the top step of the podium.meaning that the car behind will typically be forced to drop back. As a car gets progressively closer to the rear of an opponent's car it moves into the 'bubble' of turbulent air being created. Overtaking is not just about power. Simplified to its most basic form overtaking is nothing more than gaining track position to get past an opponent. One of the most important factors in Formula One overtaking is that of aerodynamic efficiency. during the dash towards the first corner or during the race itself. where the reduced airflow acting on the wings of the second car will dramatically decrease aerodynamic downforce. during the race. the easier the overtake. or simply because the car and driver behind have more braking power to call on. commitment and courage. This sort of overtaking is brought about by a speed difference: the car behind going sufficiently faster than the car in front to make a pass. slightly reducing the air resistance of the car behind and (all else being even) allowing it a slight performance advantage . and hence grip . found in corners.hence the reason cars are often seen very close together just before an overtaking attempt. On straights this bubble gives what is known as a 'tow'. This can be done at the very start of the grand prix. or to pick a different cornering line in 'clean air'.Overtaking As only one driver can ever sit on pole position for a race. certainly those likely to be in direct competition with each other. In overtaking battles the driver in front's best defence is his ability to pick braking points and cornering lines. Often successful passing moves are made under braking . Most people regard overtaking as meaning cars passing each other on the track. Typically this means reducing the angle available for the car behind to use going into .either at the culmination of a 'tow' into a corner. though. in low-grip situations) then he may be able to overtake mid-corner by taking a radically different line to the car in front . Although you will often hear talk of cars „overtaking in the pitlane‟ (meaning a car gaining track position through a better pit stop compared to a rival) this is a matter of race strategy. Similarly. As Formula One cars are typically very closely matched on performance. one positive and one negative.requiring skill. A skilful driver can hold off an opponent by adopting a 'defensive' driving style.
even if it has successfully made the pass . and any dangerous driving. How easy overtaking should be. and moveable front wings. Narrowing the car behind's angle through corners can also force it to take a later apex and even run wide. whether attacking or defensive. and the entire grid wants to finish on the top step of the podium. Although you will often hear talk of cars „overtaking in the pitlane‟ .hence moves by the FIA in 2009 to introduce KERS-powered „boost buttons. overtaking is of vital importance to the business of racing. Recent consensus is that it is too difficult and that there should be more . is a topic of endless debate in Formula One circles.and this can result in the slower car getting back in front again! A side-effect of this defensive driving is that it tends to slow both drivers down. Providing that the driver ahead only changes his line once going into a corner (not deliberately attempting to block the car behind) this is a perfectly justifiable form of racing. This can be done at the very start of the grand prix. but event officials are always monitoring overtaking attempts. A great overtaking move represents Formula One at its very best .‟ giving drivers additional bursts of power for short periods. will see the driver called before the stewards and penalised. Simplified to its most basic form overtaking is nothing more than gaining track position to get past an opponent. which is why you often see these close battles dropping away from cars ahead. It is a tribute to the incredible skill of modern drivers that they are normally able to race extremely closely and fairly without making contact. and how much of it is required to make for competitive and exciting racing.corners where there is a substantial risk of being passed.a poor one can bring the sport into disrepute. allowing them to follow the car in front more closely without significant downforce loss. and with it a driver in an inferior car can successfully hold off a faster rival. Overtaking As only one driver can ever sit on pole position for a race. during the dash towards the first corner or during the race itself.
A skilful driver can hold off an opponent by adopting a 'defensive' driving style. or simply because the car and driver behind have more braking power to call on. In overtaking battles the driver in front's best defence is his ability to pick braking points and cornering lines. As a car gets progressively closer to the rear of an opponent's car it moves into the 'bubble' of turbulent air being created. A great overtaking move represents Formula One at its very best . and hence grip .hence moves by the FIA in 2009 to introduce KERS-powered „boost buttons. Narrowing the car behind's angle through corners can also force it to take a later apex and even run wide. is a topic of endless debate in Formula One circles. the easier the overtake. in low-grip situations) then he may be able to overtake mid-corner by taking a radically different line to the car in front . though. Typically this means reducing the angle available for the car behind to use going into corners where there is a substantial risk of being passed. even if it has successfully made the pass . certainly those likely to be in direct competition with each other. but event officials .(meaning a car gaining track position through a better pit stop compared to a rival) this is a matter of race strategy. The problem comes with the second aerodynamic effect. commitment and courage. which is why you often see these close battles dropping away from cars ahead. As Formula One cars are typically very closely matched on performance. found in corners. where the reduced airflow acting on the wings of the second car will dramatically decrease aerodynamic downforce.a poor one can bring the sport into disrepute. Overtaking is not just about power. Recent consensus is that it is too difficult and that there should be more . overtaking must be carried out with a very small difference in speed . and with it a driver in an inferior car can successfully hold off a faster rival. Often successful passing moves are made under braking . and moveable front wings. On straights this bubble gives what is known as a 'tow'.meaning that the car behind will typically be forced to drop back. allowing them to follow the car in front more closely without significant downforce loss. One of the most important factors in Formula One overtaking is that of aerodynamic efficiency. and how much of it is required to make for competitive and exciting racing.either at the culmination of a 'tow' into a corner. Providing that the driver ahead only changes his line once going into a corner (not deliberately attempting to block the car behind) this is a perfectly justifiable form of racing. if a driver has more grip to call on (or more confidence. one positive and one negative. or to pick a different cornering line in 'clean air'.often heading 'around the outside'. The higher the speed difference.requiring skill.hence the reason cars are often seen very close together just before an overtaking attempt. Similarly. slightly reducing the air resistance of the car behind and (all else being even) allowing it a slight performance advantage . Most people regard overtaking as meaning cars passing each other on the track.and this can result in the slower car getting back in front again! A side-effect of this defensive driving is that it tends to slow both drivers down. It is a tribute to the incredible skill of modern drivers that they are normally able to race extremely closely and fairly without making contact. This has two effects.‟ giving drivers additional bursts of power for short periods. during the race. How easy overtaking should be. This sort of overtaking is brought about by a speed difference: the car behind going sufficiently faster than the car in front to make a pass.
com‟s 'Live Timing' section during race sessions). Screens will provide images from every part of the circuit with a dedicated Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) system.to bring it back in at the right time. The Race Director will be assisted by other FIA personnel. and also staff from the local circuit itself. It is the responsibility of Race Control to order the deployment of the safety car when necessary and . responsible for monitoring and supervising all stages of the practice. Facilities vary between different circuits. The most common penalty given in such incidents is the 'drive-through' where a driver will have to make an unscheduled trip through the pit lane without stopping. allowing him to ensure that all sessions are run safely and within the regulations.equally importantly . . Race control During a Grand Prix weekend. Timing data will also be provided with the same information feed given to the teams (and similar to the information available on Formula1. will see the driver called before the stewards and penalised. qualifying and race sessions. A vital part of the race control‟s responsibility is that of referring to the race stewards incidents in which drivers may have transgressed rules or broken the sporting code that governs racing. race control lies at the very heart of Formula One. such as the pit lane speed trap. safety car. and any dangerous driving. but all will have several key features essential to allowing the FIA Race Director and his staff to make the right decisions to keep things safe. However. There is also telephone and radio contact with the principal marshals' posts.are always monitoring overtaking attempts. whether attacking or defensive. medical response car and the medical centre. legal and to schedule. in addition the Race Director will have access to a plethora of additional information. so that in the event of any major problem the Race Director can remain in full contact with the relevant people. This enables the location of problems to be detected quickly and the appropriate action taken.
due to very heavy rain) . Strategy continued to evolve. return to clear track and then put in faster laps that would ensure emerging ahead once the slower car made its stop . as this gives teams a chance to defend their driver‟s conduct.and problems are pounced upon and contained very quickly. losing them. This was because the car could run substantially quicker on a lower fuel load (with less weight to carry around) and using the grippier. But from then on. the teams' race strategists worked out that at some circuits benefit could be gained from making two or three stops. especially when it became obvious that certain teams were carefully working out just where in the order their driver would re-emerge after a stop.„overtaking in the pit lane‟ as it has become known. but less durable. The basic variables of the equation are simple enough: fuel load and tyre wear. indeed. part magic . rather than just one. with a number of laps on which a car can make its stop to gain best strategic advantage. it gets vastly more complicated. A difference in performance that could be sufficient to offset the effect of the 30 or so seconds lost making a pit stop. such as who was to blame in an accident or for contact between cars. Race strategy Part science. Or.or if track conditions become dangerous (for example. rather than during it.a decent strategy is essential to the business of winning races. This called on rigid pit stop timetables to be abandoned and replaced by a looser system of pit stop „windows‟. In the event of a very serious incident . soft tyre compounds.the race director is also responsible for deciding if the race should be stopped. This allowed a car being baulked by a slower but hard to overtake runner to pit early.For more complicated disciplinary issues. Shortly after the reintroduction of fuelling stops to Formula One racing. And the . It is a tribute to the unruffled professionalism typical of the men and women who staff Race Control at Grands Prix that races typically progress as smoothly as they do . may be assessed at the conclusion of the race.
the length of the pitlane and even the chances of an accident likely to require the use of the safety car all come into play when deciding strategy. As time went on the trend continued. Hence the controls and instrumentation for modern Formula One cars have almost entirely migrated to the steering wheel itself . The first buttons to appear on the face of the steering wheel were the 'neutral' button (vital for taking the car out of gear in the event of a spin). Data such as weather forecasts. the likelihood of overtaking at a particular track. and in the absence of packaging constraints they tended to be made as large a diameter as possible. or trying to look at small. Buttons tend to be used . Steering wheel Formula One drivers have no spare concentration for operating fiddly controls. so as to fit into the more compact space available. luck. Early Formula One cars used steering wheels taken directly from road cars. as always.move to a single tyre supplier in 2007 has forced teams to once again re-evaluate their race strategies. and the requirement for all drivers to use both the supplied specifications of tyres during a race. As cars grew progressively lower and cockpits narrower throughout the 1960s and 1970s. to reduce the effort needed to turn.the critical interface between the driver and the car. They were normally made from wood (necessitating the use of driving gloves). and the on-board radio system's push-to-talk button. steering wheels became smaller. And. Excepting the throttle and brake pedals. few Formula One cars have any controls other than those on the face of the wheel. in light of all their rivals running on the same rubber. of course. The introduction of semi-automatic gearchanges via the now familiar 'paddles' marked the beginning of the move to concentrate controls as close to the driver's fingers as possible. one of the largest ingredients remains. hidden gauges.
such as an accident.the ultra-bright 'change up' lights that tell the driver the perfect time for the optimum gearshift. The steering wheels are not designed to make more than three quarters of a turn of lock in total. reducing the forces that must be transmitted by the steering wheel. Among the most recent additions are the „boost button. The steering wheel is also used to house instrumentation. normally via a multi-function LCD display screen and . with the typical item now being about half the diameter of that of a normal road car. such as the traction control programme. Suspension . The FIA technical regulations state that the driver must be able to get out of the car within five seconds.for 'on/off' functions. on the track ahead. This displays warning lights. and controls for the moveable front wing. but it also provides the electrical connections between the controls and the car itself. fuel mixture and even the car's front-to-rear brake bias . to alert drivers to approaching hazards. instead there are just two 'cut outs' for the driver's hands. while rotary controls govern functions with multiple settings. This has enabled designers to continue with the trend of reducing the steering wheel size.‟ used to call on the temporary additional power available through the car‟s KERS system. with colours corresponding to the marshals‟ flags.all functions the driver might wish to alter to take account of changing conditions during the race. so there is no need for a continuous rim.more visibly . Formula One cars now run with power assisted steering. steering-wheel mounted GPS marshalling system. This has to be tough enough to take the steering forces. One of the most technically complicated parts of the whole Formula One car is the snap-on connector that joins the wheel to the steering column. such as engaging the pit-lane speed limiter system.so rapid release is vitally important. Race control can also communicate with the driver via a compulsory. removing nothing except the steering wheel .
The suspension links themselves are now made out of carbon fibre to add strength and save weight. Initial set-up for a track will be made according to weather conditions (wet weather settings are far softer) and experience from previous years.this being nothing more complicated than whether the front or back of the car loses grip first at the limits of adhesion. Modern Formula One suspension is minutely adjustable.The suspension of a modern Formula One car forms the critical interface between the different elements that work together to produce its performance. with unequal length suspension arms top and bottom to allow the best possible control of the camber angle the wheel takes during cornering. Unlike road cars. Unlike road cars. The cars feature 'multi-link' suspension front and rear. which will determine basic spring and damper settings. Following the ban on computer-controlled 'active' suspension in the 1990s. As centrifugal force causes the body to roll. . Set-up depends on the aerodynamic requirements of the track. Think in terms of catching a ball rather than letting it bounce. the shock absorber releases it on the return stroke. the downforce created by the wings and aerodynamic pack and the grip of the tyres. and allows them all to be combined effectively and translated into a fast on-track package. Formula One springs are no longer mounted directly to the suspension arms. as can the suspension geometry under specific circumstances. broadly equivalent to the double wishbone layout of some road cars. instead being operated remotely via push-rods and bell cranks which (like the lobes of a camshaft) allow for variable rate springing . occupant comfort does not enter the equation . all of the Formula One car's suspension functions must be carried out without electronic intervention. These rates can then be altered according to driver preference and tyre performance. The spring absorbs the energy of the impact.spring and damper rates are very firm to ensure the impact of hitting bumps and kerbs is defused as quickly as possible. the longer effective radius of the lower suspension arms means that the bottom of the tyre (viewed from ahead) slants out further than the top.the weight of components between the springs and the surface of the track. Suspension is what harnesses the power of the engine.softer initial compliance becoming stronger as the spring is compressed further. This is vital to reduce 'unsprung mass' . vital for maximising the grip yielded by the tyre. weather conditions and driver preference for understeer or oversteer . and prevents an oscillating force from building up.
The old principle of tinkering with an instinctively designed car has long since been superseded by systematic testing of every major component and structure .000km from 2009. regulations limited each constructor to 30. However. the majority done during multi-team tests (normally three days in duration) at FIA-approved racetracks around Europe.both before and after the car is fully built and ready to race. As part of moves to further reduce the costs of competing in Formula One racing. the testing allowance was slashed to 15. so the practice of testing has grown in importance.Testing As the sport of Formula One racing grows ever more technically demanding. where any team could elect to pay a portion of the costs and to bring its cars. In 2008. A modern Formula One team's testing programme is a major exercise in both manpower and logistics and many teams use test drivers to take a share of the testing burden from the race drivers themselves. with in-season testing banned. . In addition. with two 90-minute practice sessions in which drivers may try out new developments as well as working on their race set-up. Once cars are assembled the more conspicuous type of testing begins. out on race tracks with real drivers at the wheel. though their role has been somewhat reduced in recent seasons by increasingly stringent testing restrictions. Much of this testing work happens unseen.many cars that look great 'on paper' have turned out to perform poorly on the track. a constant improvement of tiny details and set-up. deep within the constructors' factories and wind tunnel facilities. But track testing is also where the steady evolution that happens to all Formula One cars during the course of their life begins. teams also operated closed sessions where they could trial top-secret future machinery or innovations. Grand Prix Fridays serve as test days of sorts. This is where a car's fundamental abilities can be properly assessed for the first time .000km of testing per season.
it's one of the very few opportunities to overtake. and vastly skilled drivers. a bad one can all too often finish it. A desperate struggle for immediate advantage as a grid full of vastly powerful cars.The race start The start of a Grand Prix is among the most exciting of all sporting moments. A good start can make a driver's race. of course. all try to arrive first at the first corner. Indeed at races like Monaco. This is entirely rational. . as the start of any race is one of the best opportunities to gain position.
During this period before a race. the cars will be waved away for a single formation lap. and possibly in areas of relatively low adhesion. the grid will often look like a scene of chaos. this is quite a challenging test. taking into account different factors of position and track condition. team members and even media will be working to very precise plans. as he has to carefully control the pace of the formation lap to ensure both that he has the best opportunity to work some heat into his car's tyres (through hard acceleration. Once the mechanics have cleared the grid. Green lights are no longer used to indicate the start of a race. and the course car and medical cars are also in position further back. It is fortunate that the extremely high standards of professionalism among modern drivers. while also making sure that he does not complete the lap so quickly as to be left sitting on the grid for a long period as other cars take their places behind him . with the sight of cars four or even five abreast across the width of the track being far from unusual. braking and cornering). have dramatically reduced the tendency for first-corner accidents of a few seasons ago. Extremely close racing is usual at the start of a race. The situation is made more challenging for drivers as many of them will be approaching the first corner off line. As they are designed to operate at high speed (where there is a good supply of cooling air flowing over surfaces) modern Formula One cars have very little in the way of cooling .as this could damage the car. and defending your current one on the other. The team will normally try to protect its drivers from intrusive media attention on the grid if they fear this could interfere with his concentration. For the driver in pole position. a driver will adapt his strategy to be either offensive or defensive depending on how good a start he has made. instead once the red lights are extinguished (there is a pre-determined random time delay of between 4 and 14 seconds .over which the race controller has no control . Once a Formula One car's engine is started its need to move becomes very urgent. As he accelerates towards the first corner.between the lights coming on and the last one going out) the race is underway. in combination with a willingness by the FIA to take stern disciplinary measures when warranted. the start sequence is initiated by the race controller. especially at hot races. . The conflicting demands are those of gaining position on one hand. Once all the cars have come to a halt on the grid.and the heat created by running engines while stationary puts enormous strain on the mechanical parts of the car. although all the mechanics.Drivers try to prepare for the beginning of a race by creating a mental image of the start that they want to make. as cars are formed up and the final alterations allowed by the regulations are carried out.
typically a life of 16.like everything else on a the car . Despite some genuine technical crossover.Tyres A modern Formula One car is a technical masterpiece. If you look at a typical track you will see that. That means an underlying nylon and polyester structure in a complicated weave pattern designed to withstand far larger forces than road car tyres. optimizing the car-tyre balance is something of a black art. All racing tyres work best at relatively high temperatures. race tyres and road tyres are . The move to a single tyre supplier in 2007 altered that equation somewhat. The racing tyre is constructed from very soft rubber compounds which offer the best possible grip against the texture of the racetrack. even very well.distant cousins.at best . 200 kilometres and . An ordinary car tyre is made with heavy steel-belted radial plies and designed for durability . A Formula One tyre is designed to last for.is constructed to be as light and strong as possible. at most. But considering the development effort invested in aerodynamics.000 kilometres or more (10. an average car with good tyres could do well. even now. In Formula One racing that means anything up to a tonne of downforce. composite construction and engines it is easy to forget that tyres are still a race car‟s biggest single performance variable. but with bad tyres even the very best car did not stand a chance. a large amount of rubber debris gathers (known to the drivers as 'marbles').000 miles). but wear very quickly in the process. 4g lateral loadings and 5g longitudinal loadings. just off the racing line. Traditionally. . but.
Formula One tyres are normally filled with a special. The 'softness' or 'hardness' of rubber compounds is varied for each race according to the known characteristics of the track. the 2009 season brings a much-welcomed return to slick tyres. which in turn limited the softness of rubber compounds that could be used. Formula One cars ran with slicks until the 1998 rule changes came into effect. The safety car . The mixture also retains the pressure longer than normal air would. the softer it will be. This led to the familiar sight of 'grooved' tyres. These changes created several new challenges for the tyre manufacturers .the condition when a film of water builds up between the tyre and the road. necessary to expel standing water when racing in the wet. Teams and tyre makers realised that. the more oil in a tyre. by omitting a tread pattern on dry weather tyres.5 mm deep and spaced 50mm apart. One of the worst possible situations for a race driver remains 'aquaplaning' . nitrogen-rich air mixture. of which the three main ones are carbon. and every driver must make use of both specifications during the race. This leads to vastly reduced levels of grip. Two different compounds are available to each team at every Grand Prix weekend. sulphur and oil. designed to minimise variations in tyre pressure with temperature. Intermediate and wet-weather tyres have full tread patterns.most notably ensuring the grooves' integrity. Coming up to date. the dry 'grooved' tyres used up until very recently were typically designed to function at between 90 degrees Celsius and 110 degrees Celsius. The tread patterns of modern racing tyres are mathematically designed to scrub the maximum amount of water possible from the track surface to ensure the best possible contact between the rubber and the track. Generally speaking. the surface area of rubber in contact with the road could be maximised. The development of the racing tyre came of age with the appearance of 'slick' tyres in the 1960s. following the FIA‟s decision to limit aerodynamics rather than rubber as a way of keeping cornering speeds under control. and new tyre standards were introduced in an attempt to improve the spectacle of Formula One racing by reducing cornering speeds.For example. the regulations specifying that all tyres had to have four continuous longitudinal grooves at least 2. meaning that the car is effectively floating. The actual softness of the tyre rubber is varied by changes in the proportions of ingredients added to the rubber.
a similarly exact procedure is followed. Despite a larger braking system including brake cooling. When the Race Director decides to deploy the safety car it will join the track immediately and from that point no overtaking is allowed. Also. Since 2000 the FIA has entrusted the task of driving the safety car to Bernd Maylander. ready to be dispatched by Race Control at a moment's notice. The safety car is on standby throughout a Grand Prix. It is not a standard road car. any lapped cars in among the leading pack may then unlap themselves. and the information will also be relayed over radios from the pit lane. The safety car will then allow cars to pass it until the race leader is immediately behind it. the vehicle incorporates large additional coolers for engine oil. It has been possible to dispense with all the mechanical and hydraulic components of the convertible roof. which serve primarily to improve the driving comfort. When signalled to do so. a 'Safety car' board is also displayed to drivers as they cross the start-finish line. but they know that at the beginning of the next lap they will be racing again. Since 1996 the official Formula One safety car has been supplied by Mercedes-Benz and the current model is a 525-HP Mercedes-Benz SL 63 AMG. According to the regulations. cooling water and power steering. Competitors must still remain behind in formation. have been removed.the competitors restart their battle.as they cross the line . When the Race Director orders the safety car to leave the track again. a .for instance. pass the safety car and proceed around the circuit to retake their positions at the back of the field. additional cooling measures. In order to ensure the best possible reliability even in tropical temperatures. State-of-the-art radio and video equipment enable communication to be maintained at all times. after an accident or because the track is waterlogged after heavy rain. The safety car will pull off into the pits at the end of the lap and . the sound-absorbing materials. lighting system and communications equipment the safety car is significantly lighter than the road version.The safety car comes into use during a race when the Race Director wants to reduce speed for safety reasons . Throughout the process. transmission oil. At the start of its final lap the safety car will turn off its orange flashing lights. The result is a weight reduction of 220 kilograms and a safety car that only weighs 1750 kilograms. the safety car enters the circuit “whenever there is an immediate hazard but the conditions do not require the race to be interrupted”.
the FIA GT Championship and the German DTM touring car series. . Maylander started his career in karting at the end of the 1980s. He knows how to keep the pace during the safety period just high enough so that the Formula One cars‟ tyres and brakes do not cool down too much.former successful touring-car racer. In the following years he progressed to Formula Ford. the Porsche Carrera Cup.
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