Formula One car development blog

Lotus tries extended wheelbase, no racing yet

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Lotus have been talking up their extended wheelbase E21 for a while now, but after strength testing was not completed in time ahead of the Belgian GP, its debut came at Monza. The team brought two sets of parts and opted to give Raikkonen only a chance to try it out in the Friday sessions.

The Finn though believed there was little or no performance gain in it, underlined by the fact that he and Grosjean - who still ran the shorter version - set identical best laptimes during FP2.

Wh... Read more

Heat protective floor coating to shield against exhaust flow

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Red Bull Racing have likely kicked off a new trend in Formula One, as the team appeared with obvious coating on the car's floor, downstream of the exhausts. With the RB9 having one of the most effective designs to pull the exhaust gases down to the car's floor to seal the diffuser, its carbon fibre floor is also very much exposed to the heat of the burning hot exhaust gases flowing over the floor. Such single sided heat exposure is a risk for the carbon fibre laminate which may end ... Read more

Red Bull use McLaren alternator on RB9

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After rumours emerged in the Italian press about RBR's alternator, Renault Sport have now confirmed to F1Technical that Red Bull Racing is indeed using a McLaren Electronic System alternator in combination with the Renault engine. The firm notes this is the case "for some time now", with all other Renault powered teams still using the Magnetti Marelli alternators, similar to last year.

Renault's technical director, Rob White, says this is the result of the problems during 2012: "We ... Read more

Lotus to update suspension to control ride height

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Lotus Technical Director James Allison has revealed that the team will introduce a new element in the front suspension that is mainly aimed at better controlling the ride height at the front of the car: "We will trial a suspension modification – internal rather than to the wishbones – which is an evolution of something we ran to good effect during pre-season."

Allison does not reveal what exactly will be tried, but his further comments claar up a few things: "You’re always trying to... Read more

Force India debut pitlight system

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Force India have brought a new pit light system to the German GP. After extensive testing in the factory, the new system will replace the lollipop and should improve average pitstop times for the team. The lead technician will now press a button to switch the light to green.

A similar system was introduced by Ferrari in 2008 but abandoned after Felipe Massa's early exit from the box at the 2008 Singapore GP tore up a refuelling hose. The Scuderia is however again using the system th... Read more

Virgin struggles to fix fuel tank size issue

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Virgin Racing have designed their car completely with CFD technology, and hence didn't rely on any wind tunnel data, nor did it have testing data at the time of its design process. Based on engine data provided by Cosworth, Wirth engineering decided on a tank size just enough to do a race. The team have however found that when the engine is carefully tuned for performance, it consumes more fuel, putting the team in trouble with its fuel tank size.

Although the team is still working ... Read more

Optimum brake caliper position on RB6

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While Red Bull have chosen a development approach rather than a complete redesign, the list of optimisations on the car is nearly endless. One of the more interesting items is the location of the brake calipers, constructed by Brembo in Red Bull's case.

On both the front and rear wheels, the calipers are positioned at the bottom end of the brake discs, creating the lowest possible centre of gravity for the wheels. While Honda have come close to this in 2006, most teams have compromi... Read more

Zero keel or a twin keel after all?

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Realising that all teams are now competing this season with a zero keel front suspension, I spotted this at the Belgian Grand Prix. The picture shows how the front suspension - which is totally different than that of the TF107 - is attached to the monocoque. The zero keel - which denotes the lack of vertical suspension support under the nose - allows for a much better airflow under the nose and towards the sidepods. The picture does show an extension on the car's centre line, but th... Read more

McLaren design 4-paddle steering wheel for torque control

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McLaren have recently been using steering wheels with 4 paddles, rather than the usual two. The 'telegraph' have reported that, while the upper paddles are used for conventional up and downshifting, the additional levers allow the driver to select a different engine mapping, independently from the gear shifting.

The currently used standard engine control unit enable to teams to program a number of predefined engine mappings, optimising traction or driveability in different condition... Read more

McLaren take testing to the extreme

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McLaren have impressed in the testing season so far as their cars have often proven to be the fastest among the competitors. While that may not be important, the team is also experiencing very few mechanical problems. In fact only 3 problems arose in the last few weeks of testing, with the last one being yesterday on Alonso's car. The car was fixed surprisingly fast and McLaren have stated the problem was caused by a testing program in that area of the car. Just like with a previous... Read more