You are on page 1of 6


Formula 1 technologies
Design and Engineering innovations
Prateek Patel (2009 JE 0852)

Formula 1 cars owe their extreme performance to innovative design (Aerodynamics) and engineering (powertrain and machinery) technologies. These technologies have not been evolving over time but been popping up to respond to the dire need of situation and restrictions imposed by FIA on racing teams.

INTRODUCTION The technologies used in a Formula one race vehicle are ample demonstrations of a perfect blend between creative design, problem solving and high precision engineering skills. This unique combination makes them the fastest of all terrestrial automotives. This paper is a discussion on the Aerodynamics, Engine and other recently advanced technological systems that are propelling todays state of the art Formula one vehicles. AERODYNAMICS An 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 minimizing the drag that gets caused by turbulence and acts to slow the car down. Wings are used for this purpose. 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 modern Formula One car is capable of developing 3.5 g lateral cornering force (three and a half times its own weight) due to aerodynamic downforce. It means that, theoretically, at high speeds they could drive upside down. The major aerodynamic components of a formula one car are: 1. Front wing 2. The Diffuser 3. Rear wing The primary wings mounted in 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 it can be seen 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.

F1 teams have unrivalled CFD computing power and at least one full time wind tunnel, only for validating and improving their designs. The wind tunnels are specially designed to simulate airflow like in open air and flow velocity as close as possible to reality. Because a complete racing car is a very complex system, teams of engineers usually evolve the car step by step, developing a particular item and check its effect on the car. Such overall effect can then be calculated with "Amdahl's law":

Here is the fraction of the system (when this fraction generates 5% of the car's drag, then is 0.05) that can be improved, is the improvement factor on this fraction (division of the drag in Newtons and the new drag force after improving that element), and is the overall improvement that will be achieved.

Figure 1: Computer Generated image of the wind tunnel test carried out by McLaren Technology Centre, Surrey England. Front wing The front wing is a crucial element for the aerodynamic setup of the entire car. This wing is the first piece of the car to come in contact with clean air, as the vehicle is driven around the track. Elements of the front wing are designed to direct clean air around the vehicle in the most aerodynamically efficient way, while providing enough downforce for the car to have sufficient grip in the corners. In order for the car to cut through the clean air more efficiently, the upper flaps and end plates must direct incoming airflow over and around the front tyres.

The nosecone is designed to force airflow underneath the car and into the rear diffuser. The adjustable wing allows the driver to dial in additional downforce in a specific sector or corner of a circuit.

Figure 4: Double decker diffuser: The vertical openings in floor of car (A) feed the extra volume of second diffuser (B), increasing downforce. Rear Wing The rear wing assists the front wing and rear diffuser in the overall downforce setup of the car. The angle of the wing is adjusted according to each specific Grand Prix circuit, depending on the amount of downforce required, the weather and the amount of mechanical grip available. This component is also the final link in the aerodynamic chain, as airflow that has passed over and under the car must be managed to reduce dirty air as it exits at the rear. The end plates located at the sides of the wing are designed to smooth the meeting of two different airflows the high pressure air above the car tries to switch places with the low pressure air below the car and it is this that causes the spinning flow of air behind the car. When these two forces meet they form a vortex, a spinning flow of air which is very turbulent and creates unnecessary drag.

Figure 2: Front Wing: Increases Downforce and improves aerodynamics Diffuser The rear diffuser has two main aims. Firstly, as the Venturi Effect states that the speed of airflow is faster when the channel (the diffuser) it passes through is constricted so it lowers the air pressure, sucks the car to the ground and, in Formula One terms, creates downforce. The second important benefit of the rear diffuser is to pull the air out from underneath the car. This fast flow of air reduces the layer of air molecules that sticks to the body of the car and as such increases downforce. As a result, the diffuser aids downforce along the entire length of the car, not just at the rear of the car.

Figure 3: Single Diffuser: The upswept area of rear floor draws air from below car. Generates 30-40% of total downforce.

Figure 5: Rear wing

ENGINE Every Formula One engine is a 2.4litre V8 engine, capable of producing around 800 horsepower. The Fdration International de lAutomobile (FIA) introduced a regulation at the start of 2009 which restricts engines to 18,000 rpm (rather than 19,000 rpm in 2008). This prolongs the lives of the eight engines allowed per driver per season and reduces horsepower output, making the racing safer and more cost effective. Lubricant allows the parts to move more freely and hugely reduces friction inside the cylinders and pistons. it is sprayed at speeds of up to 150mph inside the engine onto the underside of the piston heads to lubricate the movement up and down. The lubricant reduces wear inside the engine. Fuel is pumped from the fuelling rig into the car at a rate of 12.1 litres per second, filling an empty car in less than eight seconds. The fuel tank is constructed from flexible Kevlar and rubber, located underneath and behind the driver. Fuel vapour from the tank mixes with the air in the inlet trumpet before it is pumped past the valve into the cylinder. The fuel mixture is ignited when the piston is at the top of its stroke, forcing it back down. This process is synchronised over all eight cylinders at a maximum speed of 18,000 rpm.

Revving to a limited 18,000 RPM, a modern Formula One engine will consume a phenomenal 450 litres of air every second, with. Revving at such massive speeds equates to an accelerative force on the pistons of more than 8000 times gravity.

Figure 6: Ferrari F60 Engine Courtesy: Shell Motorsports.

ADVANCED TECHNOLOGICAL SYSTEMS There are of course other advanced systems that are integrated with fore mentioned elements to enhance the performance of a formula 1 car, like: Forward Exhaust System (Renault R31) F-Duct (McLaren MP4-25) Aero Rims (Ferrari F2007) Uranium ballast Brake Ducts J Dampers are used which enhance the performance in terms of either speed or handling. But the devices in the next section are probably the most innovative and advantageous in formula one context. Reactive Ride Height Suspension It's designed to help the car maintain a constant ride height under braking, which should boost stability and hence aerodynamic performance this is entirely mechanical and is activated by the brakes' torque, not the driver. It's reactive, not active. The bulk of the system is contained in the car's drum-like brake housing. Additional hydraulic cylinders (1) are connected to the movement of the brake caliper, whilst the suspension's push-rod link (2) is no longer rigidly

All F1 engines are naturally aspirated V8's of 2400cc Engines are limited to 18,000rpm The weight is exactly 95kg (each manufacturer easily reaches this regulated minimum weight) Engine blocks are constructed of forged aluminium alloy, because of the weight advantages it gives in comparison to steel. Other materials would maybe give some extra advantages, but to limit costs, the FIA has forbidden all non-ferro materials. Crankshaft and piston rods are Iron based for strength. At its maximum pace the current V8 engines consume around 60 litres of petrol for 100km of racing.

fixed to the upright but can enjoy a few millimetres freedom of movement (see yellow highlighted area on inset) to offset the pressure that would ordinarily force the front of the car to pitch, or dive, under braking system thought to be worth up to three tenths per lap. It used brake torque to hoist the suspension using hydraulic system, this didnt alter the ride height but maintained it, as during high-speed cornering the cars chassis will dip due to the high exertion of forces acting upon the car. Maintaining stability of the car enables a better exit of the corners because the car is more efficient aerodynamically.

Figure 8: DRS Active (Top), DRS Deactivated (Bottom).

Figure 7: Reactive Ride Height Suspension Drag Reduction System (DRS) The device opens an adjustable flap on the rear wing of the car (which when closed creates more downforce for greater cornering) to reduce downforce, thus giving a pursuing car more speed and a greater chance of overtaking a car in front. DRS is worth about half a second per lap. The DRS is expected to offer 1012 km/h more speed by the end of the activation zone. If two cars are within one second of each other (i.e. pretty close) then second of them gets a light activated on his steering wheel which means DRS is active and he can hit his DRS button and go faster. Once the DRS button is pressed the flap will stay flipped until the driver hits the brakes (i.e. the first time he needs some grip again).

Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) It is evident that the cars spend a great deal of their time braking into turns and then accelerating out of them. Normally all the energy is lost during braking as it converts into heat on the brake rotor and pads. The idea behind a Kinetic Energy Recovery System is to instead capture that deceleration energy and release it during the next acceleration period. There are principally two types of system battery (electrical) and flywheel (mechanical). Electrical systems use a motor-generator incorporated in the cars transmission which converts mechanical energy into electrical energy and vice versa. Once the energy has been harnessed, it is stored in a battery and released when required. Mechanical systems capture braking energy and use it to turn a small flywheel which can spin at up to 80,000 rpm. When extra power is required, the flywheel is connected to the cars rear wheels. In contrast to an electrical KERS, the

mechanical energy doesnt change state and is therefore more efficient. There is one other option available - hydraulic KERS, where braking energy is used to accumulate hydraulic pressure which is then sent to the wheels when required. A standard KERS operates by a charge cycle and a boost cycle. As the car slows for a corner, an electric motor (or alternator) captures the waste kinetic energy from the rear brakes. This collected kinetic energy is then passed to a Central Processing Unit (CPU) and onto the batteries. The batteries sit underneath the drivers seat and are positioned centrally to minimize the impact on the balance of the car. Due to the high voltage of the batteries a bespoke fluid is used that insulates and cools the batteries to ensure the safety of the system. When the driver presses the boost button on the steering wheel, the batteries transfer the stored energy back to the engine for a maximum of 6.67seconds per lap. This extra energy contributes around 80hp and can shave up to four tenths of a lap time.

SUMMARY These technologies may appear complex for general implementation but many of these in future will surely become regular automotive products. As are the following mentioned top 10 automotive technologies that have been derived from racing vehicles Solutions to regular automotive problems can be achieved by cost effective and miniaturized modifications to some of these systems. REFERENCES + Websites

Figure 9: Kinetic Energy Recovery System Charge and Boost Cycles.

Figure 10: Layout of a standard KERS