You are on page 1of 14

Subject seminar Understanding a Formula 1 Car

Formula One, also known as Formula 1 or F1 and referred to officially as the FIA Formula One World Championship, is the highest class of single seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fdration Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). The "formula" in the name refers to a set of rules with which all participants' cars must comply. The F1 season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix (translated to English as "Big Prizes"), held on purpose-built circuits and public roads. The results of each race are combined to determine two annual World Championships, one for the drivers and one for the constructors, with racing drivers, constructor teams, track officials, organizers, and circuits required to be holders of valid Super Licences, the highest class of racing licence issued by the FIA.

Formula One cars are considered to be the fastest circuit-racing cars in the world, owing to very high cornering speeds achieved through the generation of large amounts of aerodynamic downforce. Formula One cars race at high speeds up to 360 km/h (220 mph) with engines the performance of which is limited to a maximum of 18,000 revolutions per minute (rpms). The cars are capable of lateral acceleration in excess of 5 g in corners. The performance of the cars is very dependent on electronics although traction control and other driving aids have been banned since 2008 and on aerodynamics, suspension and tyres. This report explains the basic structure of a Formula 1 racing car When an F1 car is considered. There are mainly 4 categories which are very significant. Aerodynamics. Mechanical aspects of the car. Electronics Cockpit of the car.


The front wing is vital as it is the first part of the car to come into contact with the air.

It affects the airflow down the full length of the car and even tiny changes can have huge effects on the overall performance. The front wing is mainly responsible for generating enough down force to keep the Formula 1 car upon the ground. It also guides the air entering the car from the front towards the rear wing.


The technical regulations state that a front wing must be no lower than 75mm above the reference plane, which is the lowest point of the car excluding the plank (yellow dotted line). To check compliance with this rule, 100kg loads are applied to the two ends of the front wing (red arrows) in scrutinizing, with movement of no more than 20mm allowed. This year the FIA have brought into force a stricter test in which loads are applied either simultaneously or on one side at a time. Despite controversy about their 'flexible' front wing, Red Bull has passed this test, leaving their rivals striving to develop similar solutions.

Ferrari 150 Italia - revised front wing

For the Malaysian GP 2011, Ferrari have modified their car's front wing slightly, with the addition of this small flap (red arrow) between the turning vanes. The team has also made some very subtle changes to the endplates. As they attempt to find more pace in the car.

The Rear Wing

The rear wing helps glue the rear wheels to the track, but it also hugely increases drag. This means designers are constantly working to use as little angle of incidence on the rear wing as possible without harming overall performance.

The Diffuser

The diffuser, or floor, is designed to ensure the smoothest exit for the air that is flowing under the car. Designers come up with a huge variety of complicated shapes because the quicker the air exits, the more down force the car generates, and the faster it will be.

In the 2010 Season Braun GP developed a diffuser around which there was a lot of controversy. The controversy surrounding the Brawn, Toyota and Williams diffusers went beyond their external shape and dimensions. More important was the fact that all three designs use a 'window' or hole (red arrow) to feed the diffuser. That hole is horizontal in the case of the Williams, vertical for the other two teams, and is located where the floor's step plane meets the

reference plane. Rivals' cars, such as Ferrari's, feature no such hole at this point. This difference stems from the question of whether the diffuser's three channels can be considered as separate entities, or whether they must be considered as one (enclosed) whole. This design modification went to court and was appealed for. Braun GP won the case.


All F1 cars are fitted with a 10mm "plank" made of hardwood as a means of limiting performance to ensure they do not run closer to the ground than allowed. If the plank wears by more than 1mm, the car is disqualified.

Barge Boards

Barge boards, or turning vanes, smooth out and separate the air that has been disrupted by the front wheels. They separate the flow into two parts - one is directed into the sidepods to cool the engine; the other is diverted outside to reduce drag.


The mechanical parts of the car are those that make it stop and go. Like all aspects of an F1 car, they are designed and built with the most advanced materials possible to ensure they perform to the absolute optimum.


A Formula One engine is a miracle of modern engineering.The best of these three litre, normally aspirated V10s rev to nearly 19,000rpm and produce just under 900bhp. And they weigh around 100kg.hat is twice the engine capacity of a typical family saloon, but more than three times as many revs and eight times more power - and less than half the weight.The gearboxes have six or seven gears which change in milliseconds.The clutch paddle, which is usually on the steering wheel, is used by the drivers only at the start as part of the automatic starting procedure. It can also be activated to prevent the car stalling if the driver spins. Once the car is in motion, the clutch is operated electronically by the complicated gearbox software.


Close control of the suspension is vital. Wheel travel is less than 5cm and a dipping of the car by 1mm more than ideal under braking or acceleration can disrupt airflow and make the car difficult to handle.

The suspension parts are aerodynamically sculpted to reduce drag.

Braking is extremely powerful. High-tech carbon-fibre discs glow red hot at operating temperatures of up to 1,300 degrees Celsius. They can slow a car from 180mph to 50mph in less than two seconds.

Ferrari F150th Italia - rear suspension

Ferrari have retained their push-rod suspension(From 2010 to 2011 season), but have moved its elements forward. The larger angle of the push-rod link (1 and 2, highlighted in yellow) means the car can have a very narrow and low rear section.

Ferrari F150th Italia - 2010/2011 front suspension comparison

With the chassis positioned five centimeters higher, the suspension pick-up points are also higher (main drawing - 2011; inset - 2010). And in a first for Ferrari, the steering arm is no longer included inside the top wishbone (red arrow).


Tyres can have a bigger impact on an F1 car's speed than any other single element.

They have four grooves to keep cornering speeds under control and are mounted on lightweight aluminium wheel rims. These are attached to the car by a single nut, for speed of changing at pit stops.


An F1 fuel tank is a crushable yet bullet-proof structure, housed inside the chassis behind the driver. It is made of Kevlar to prevent it being punctured in an accident.

Size is not governed by rules, and designers have to decide whether to go for a small tank, which may improve ultimate performance, or have a larger one which provides greater tactical freedom in races.

The oil tank used to be housed between the engine and gearbox, but is now recessed into the back of the chassis in front of the engine.

This provides better performance, in terms of both the car's weight distribution, and oil pick-up.

F1 cars are so high-tech that they cannot operate without state-of-the art, computer-controlled electronic systems. These control most parts of the car, including the engine; gearbox and driver-aid systems like traction control and launch control.


Traction control is an electronically-controlled driver aid that stops the rear wheels spinning, ensuring maximum acceleration. Many said it detracted too much from the skill of the driver and made the cars too easy to drive. Traction control was banned starting from the British GP 2009 (In the same year in which its use was started).

Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) are automotive systems whereby the kinetic energy of a moving vehicle is recovered under braking and stored in a reservoir (either a flywheel or a battery) for later use under acceleration. KERS was used for the motor sport Formula One's 2009 season, and is under development for road vehicles. However, KERS was abandoned for the 2010 Formula One season, but has been reintroduced in 2011.

The cockpit is far more than just the place the driver sits and drives. It is also a super-strong survival cell that minimizes the chances of injury in accidents and also an operations centre from which the driver can control many of the car's control systems.


The steering wheel is one of the most complex pieces of equipment on a Formula One car. Through it, the driver controls many of the systems of the car.


Formula One drivers are cocooned in an immensely strong "survival cell" of space-age materials like Kevlar and carbon-fibre.

The chassis must pass a series of extremely tough "crash tests" before it is allowed to race.

One of the areas checked most rigorously is the roll-over bar, which protects the driver's head and neck in case the car overturns.

Referenced sites: