Category: F1 tech stuff.

This is quite clever. I guess I need to think of using a similar system now for MY designs. Even tighter rear end packaging. Top marks Scarbs, thanks for doing this!

Scarbsf1's Blog

In the second year of their use of RenaultSport’s KERS, Red Bull appear to have found a new mounting position and format for their KERS energy storage with what appear to be floor mounted super capacitors.  Super Capacitors (Supercaps) are an alternative energy storage to Lithium Ion batteries, using very much the same technology as smaller capacitors used in electronics

2011 was Red Bulls first year with KERS, having chosen not to run it in 2009 as it compromised their design too much. As is typical for Newey, Marshal and their design team the KERS installation was unique and uncompromising, with its energy storage in two packs either side of the gearbox and a smaller unit inside the gearbox. Reliability issues plagued the team throughout the year, with the batteries succumbing to heat and vibration.

Floor mounting

So with a year’s understanding under their belt and the newly confirmed status…

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F1 car technologies. Part 2 of 5 – Brakes

Part 2 of my Formula 1 technical series looks at the brakes of a Formula 1 car.

The brakes on a Formula 1 car work on exactly the same principal that your road car tyres do. The brake pedal pressurizes hydraulic brake fluid in the master cylinders, which then in turn move pistons inside the callipers, which then move brake pads, which then clamp against the discs.

Formula 1 regulations state that no mechanical or electrical assistance is allowed. This means no pump can be used to pressurize the fluid, even the servo that you get on your road car which multiplies the effort put in by the driver, is banned. This means that to stop an F1 car fast enough to set a quick lap time the driver has to put in a pedal pressure of around 75kg, or more depending on the driver.

The brakes on a Formula 1 are of the Carbon-Carbon design. Carbon discs and pads are used as they withstand heat and wear much better than ordinary steel or iron discs that are found on your road cars.

ABS is also banned.

Just like the brakes on your road car, a Formula 1 car has two, separate braking circuits. Unlike the road cars they are split front-to-rear rather than diagonally across the car (front left+rear right, rear left+front right)This allows the brake bias between the front and rear of the car to be changed to suit each different corner or braking zone on the track. This means that one aspect of the car setup can be changed constantly throughout the race. With the advent of KERS, the brake bias has to be more forward due to the added braking at the back of the car. Having more forward brake bias increases understeer on turn in to a corner, but increases stability. On the downside it’s not good for front tyre preservation as added heat radiates into the tyre which can cause it to overheat, and also an increased chance of front tyre locking which increases tyre wear and also creates flat spots. Flat spots can be a very big problem. The video link at the bottom of this article is one case of a serious flat spot problem! In the first few seconds of the video you can see the tyre vibrating massively and then as soon as Kimi hits the brakes, the added load with the vibration causes a massive suspension failure.

The brake bias adjuster must be a mechanical adjuster, and the one found on the RedBull RB6 was of the ratchet and lever type. This means that a small lever, sitting on a ratchet disc moves a linkage bar which in turn moves a small balance bar around a pivot on the master cylinder. This controls the amount of pressure acts on the fluid in each of the two master cylinders.

The discs on an F1 car must be a maximum of 28mm thick, and 278mm in diameter. They are made with ventilation passages through them to keep them as cool as possible, yet they still run at around 1000°C. The callipers are made out of Aluminium-Lithium alloy as it radiates heat better, and also because the materials that they’re made out of must be of a specific strength (80gPa) They must also have a maximum of 6 pistons per calliper, and one calliper per wheel. Each calliper must only be attached to the car by a maximum of 2 bolts.

Each single brake is fitted with two sensors. These are temperature, and wear level sensors. The temperature sensors are infra-red type, and are mounted on the side of the wheel hubs (upright). They detect the amount of infra-red radiation coming off of each disc to measure the temperature.

The wear sensors are of the LVDT type (Linear Variable Differential Transformer). They are mounted in the callipers and measure the movement of each brake pad. The discs and pads are made of the same material so wear evenly. As the components wear, they have to move further and this is picked up by the sensor.

Interesting stuff from Scarbs, AGAIN.

Scarbsf1's Blog

Not everything in F1 is aggressive, extreme, radical or innovative. In fact in many areas the car’s are very close in general design terms. Some time it’s enough just to soak up the detail engineering and explain what all the little bits and pieces do on the car. In this series of short articles, we’ll do just that, thanks to these amazing photographs from MichaelD.
This is the front left corner of the VJM05, seen without the wheel to expose the brakes, suspension mounts, hub and electronics. Details vary from team to team, but what we see here is typical of most F1 cars, indeed some of the components are standard (electronics) or lightly modified by the supplier (brakes).

Brake Caliper

Dominating the picture is the brake caliper. This is supplied by AP Racing and will be designed around Force India requirements, albeit based on their current iteration of an…

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F1 car technnologies. Part 1 of 5 – Tyres

In this new series that is EXCLUSIVE to and to my own blog, we will take a more in-depth look at F1 technologies and how different aspects of the car affect the handling and how the handling is tuned by altering the car setup.There are many different aspects to car setup. You have to find the compromise between high speed and low speed cornering grip, steering responsiveness, traction under acceleration, how much kerb you can ‘hop’, how the car handles bumps under different conditions, e.g. braking, high speed cornering, low speed cornering, traction and direction change, how the car handles under braking and general balance in the corners.

Part 1 – Tyres

In the first of a 5 part series, we will look at the tyres and they way they play their part in car setup. The tyres are the only surfaces allowed to touch the ground within F1 regulations. Formula 1 tyres run at a pressure that’s much lower than that you’d see in your average road car which normally runs at around 32-38PSI (2.206-2.620bar). They run between 17 and 21PSI (1.172 – 1.448 bar) as they have much stiffer sidewalls and shoulders. Only very small changes are ever made to the tyre pressure. This is done because as the tyre pressures are already very low, they become more responsive to changes. Having reduced pressure means that the tyre can spread out more, giving a larger contact patch, and therefore increased low speed grip. However handling responsiveness overall is reduced and more driver effort is needed to turn the wheels. It also increases fuel consumption as the tyre is squashed more, increasing friction. Tyre warm-up is increased as the inter-molecular friction creates.

Obviously there are different forms of tyre temperature. These are surface temperature and core temperature. The core temperature is the temperature of the gas inside the tyre and is the most important. Surface temperature is the temperature of the tread that makes contact with the road surface. Tyre heat is generated in 3 ways. The first and most efficient is flexing of the tyre wall. This creates internal heat. The second way is surface friction; this is the slipping of the tyre over the road surface. It produces a large amount of heat but it is quickly dissipated through the road. The final one is heat from the brakes. This is the best way to keep the tyres warm. It is part of the reason why the cars do lots of speeding up and slowing down on their warm-up laps, to get heat into the brakes which then radiate into the wheels and tyres. If a tyre gets too hot they will start to ‘blister’ this means that bubbles of built up gas appear on the surface of the tread, which then burst to leave deep pits. The worst known case of this was Spa 2011, in which RedBull seeked permission to alter their car setup before the race to give them better tyre life. The blisters are normally seen on the inner shoulder o f the tyre, like in the photo from the link below.

In F1 there are 6 compounds of tyres, 2 of which are grooved to clear water for wet weather use only. Each has their own colour logo on the sidewall.

Silver is the hardest compound, and is a dark silver to make it easier to distinguish between it and the medium compound tyre which is white.

Yellow is the soft tyre and is arguable the best compromise between grip and life.

Red is the super soft tyre and has the best grip, but the least durability.

When talking about the ‘softness’ of the tyre, what people are really saying how much friction each compound makes. Soft tyres are more pliable so have more grip, hard tyres are stiffer and have less grip. Harder tyres also mean that the molecules that make up the tyre have a stronger bond, meaning they wear less.

Then there are the two wet weather tyres, the green intermediates and the blue wets. The intermediates have a shallower tread, and more contact area which makes them the best for a damp track, and changing conditions.

The blue tyres have the smallest contact patch, but the deepest tread of all the tyres. They’re the softest compound out of all of the tyres, and overheat very quickly in anything other than standing water.

In the next part in this series we will look at the brakes and how they affect the handling of the car.

Malaysian GP technical analysis.

There have been some small updates in Malaysia. Ferrari were running a new front wing which they trialled but didn’t race in Australia, Williams and Sauber were running ‘ductless’ brakes, where there is no large cooling duct, instead they just use the carbon fibre upright backing plate to guide air into the brake shrouds to cool the discs. The benefit of not using the large ducts is a reduction in drag, and an improvement to the airflow that flows between the chassis and the wheels and through the suspension elements.

Something was spotted on the Ferrari car that Renault were using in 2001, bought to the car at Alonso’s request, a carbon connecting rod that connects the gearbox to the chassis. This rod provides extra stiffness and support at the rear of the car, reducing further the amount of movement that the engine and gearbox have when stressed. The links to these updates will be down below.

HRT also had DRS for the first time so far this season. They managed to qualify for the race, but were well over a second off the pace of Marussia in qualifying. However they had much, much better race pace, which is similar to the Ferrari. They struggle with overall pace, but are much more improved in the race.

The new Ferrari front wing –

The Williams front brake ducts –

The Sauber front brake ducts –

The Ferrari gearbox support rod –

My designs.

I’m going to take inspiration from a very clever chap from Austria who has built several race cars out of cardboard and paperboard who has a blog at and bring my car designs to life. I thank him for the inspiration and I think that you should all pay his blog a visit and check out his excellent work!

Australia technical updates.

For Australia we’ve seen a number of updates. RedBull  are using new bodywork around the exhaust and a new rear floor with added vanes to aid the Coanda effect in guiding the exhaust gasses around and under the side of the diffuser and away from the tyres. The floor had a cutout in it very slightly ahead and alongside the rear tyres, into which the exhaust gasses would flow into the side channels of the diffuser. The bodywork around the exhaust is a little more angular in profile as you can see from  the image at the link below. The exhaust gasses expand outwards by a larger amount than you’d expect, but the general flow direction seems to stay the same as is visible from the scorch marks.

McLaren are running a new rear wing (with the Lucozade sponsors logo on it)which has the centre section of the upper flap (in between the slot gap seperators) being a few mm lower than the outer sections. This very slightly reduces the downforce, however it also slightly reduces drag when DRS is both open AND closed.

Ferrari have brought a small and virtually unnoticeable change to their rear wing endplate. It now features 3 horizontal vanes. I don’t know what these do, but I would hazard a guess that they produce a small vortex, which enhances the expansion of airflow from under the rear wing main plane, which reduces pressure and increases pressure differential.  The uppermost one is shaped to follow the exact same arc that the upper element does when the DRS is activated.

They also have altered the layout of the exhaust yet again, as they try to find the solution that works the best for their car.

Lotus-Renault have a small, but visible and most probably overlooked aero update to their sidepods. The foremost upper section now has a vertical vane protruding above it at almost half way between the side of the cockpit and the turning vanes on the outer edges of the sidepods. I’d imagine this is to guide airflow over the top of the sidepods to increase airflow to one side of the exhausts. It also would produce a vortex over the top of the sidepods, similar to that of which aircraft use.

Torro Rosso are running a new rear wing. Their main plane now curves upwards at the outer edges giving a deeper central section. With me being only an amateur, my guess as to why this is used is because it gives a slightly larger surface area on the underside of the wing compared to the top of the wing. This therefore means that the airflow underneath has to spread out more, giving a reduction in air pressure, and a greater pressure differentiation between the two surfaces. This therefore produces more downforce with not much more drag.

Caterham have finally brought their new front wing. The uppermost, rearmost flaps are virtually the same, but a new endplate and a new main plain and 2nd flap have been installed. Also includes new cascade elements. This follows the general trend where the main plane is split into two sections after the FIA standardized 50cm section in the middle of the wing.

HRT seem to also have brought updates to Melbourne. If you can call them updates. At their ‘filming day’ in Barcelona, they were running a car without DRS, barge boards or cascade elements on the front wing. They seem to be using EXACTLY the same front wing that they were using for virtually all of 2011, bringing back the cascades that they introduced a few races in. Let’s just hope that they are better made. They did keep coming off last year don’t forget!

I agree with Scarbs here, there is no reason why they would blow the rear wing. Looks like the official F1 website got their technical analysis wrong concerning this ‘F-duct’

Scarbsf1's Blog

Update on how it links to the front wing

Original article/

I’ve heard a lot of reporting about the Mercedes F-Duct stalling the rear wing and the likelihood of other teams already having a similar system.

I can see the logic in why people think that the DRS controlled duct blows the rear wing elements in a bid to reduce drag. I haven’t seen any evidence of this being the case; equally I can see several issues with this theory. The problem with the theories on the DRS duct stalling the rear wing are twofold; firstly the DRS is already cutting immensely, secondly the rules greatly restrict the ability to stall the rear wing. Back in to 2010 teams were using blown slots across the full width of the rear wing, these being used with perpendicular blowing to stall the wing or tangential blowing to act as an additional slot…

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