"Article from french newspaper, Le Figaro", maybe not much new, but there are some things... and ahem... excuse Google translate.
Eric Boullier, owner of Lotus Renault, the new car will be officially presented in six days. Photo credits: Lotus Renault GP / Lotus Renault GP
At seven days of the first trials of 2011, the English team opens the doors of its plant in Le Figaro.
The winter frost the Oxfordshire countryside. At a short distance from Enstone village of a thousand inhabitants, a factory niche discreetly 4500 m ² of high-tech facilities and ultrasécurisées, the stronghold of the Lotus team Renault. The atmosphere is clinical. The ceaseless activity. In six days, the car should be officially presented at the Spanish circuit of Valencia. The next day, Russian Vitaly Petrov takes for the first time behind the wheel, before being relayed by Poland's Robert Kubica, lead driver, the next two days.
"We are in the final straight, the last parts are manufactured and shipment of equipment is scheduled for Saturday, said Eric Boullier, the French manager of the team. We look forward, pending the verdict of the first track. "This car 2011 marks, indeed, a strategic shift. Renault is no longer a partner, as a single engine. The car will be designed according to the first organization set up by Genii Capital, owner of the Luxembourg team, which came under British license to honor the colors of Lotus Cars, the main sponsor to the tune of about 20 million euros per year over the next five seasons.
Obligation of result
"With Genii, we gave ourselves the time to understand why a world champion team in 2006 was then able to tumble in the hierarchy. There was a problem of organization and methods, resulting in low productivity and too many subcontractors. Our productivity has been increased by 15% and we will double by this summer. Restructuring and culture change are real. "
On the teeth, the boss. 170 million euro budget, 500 employees at the plant and facilities worthy of the aeronautical engineering department; center CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) software developed in top secret internal blower modern departments of composite materials, mechanical components, peripherals Renault engine or gearbox; teams dedicated to simulations: the factory is full of passionate engineers, but more importantly, able to work under pressure and with incredible responsiveness.
"Our expertise is in aviation, we also p ourrions well imagine a jet boat or art performance for the America's Cup, Eric Boullier analysis. While it takes years to release a new production car, our cars will be March 11 in Bahrain for the first Grand Prix, efficient and reliable to over 300 km / h despite extreme physical stress, and this after only a few work months and fifteen days of track testing. "
With an obligation of result, the clock face and the opposing teams. "Our car 2011 will be much more efficient than the 2010, remains to be seen what would have made the competition ..." The Lotus Renault 2011, of which 92% of the parts will be new compared to the Renault 2010, is expected Tuesday on the circuit. Two and a half months later, as we approach the first race, she has generously changed. The planning of technical development is already fixed for the next twelve months and the fan runs continuously. The life of a Formula 1 team is a perpetual race against time. Each tenth of a second runway is won a victory.
A true work of craftsmanship sometimes by hand, and micron ...
Equipped with machine tools latest digital, whether for the manufacture of prototypes, parts production or quality control with micron precision as for the resistance to physical constraints, the team does not Lotus Renault less appeal to the expertise of its skilled workers, real craftsmen. Some pieces are handmade and, like flywheels, designed as dashboards peppered with electronic or exhaust (see picture). These are fundamental in terms of performance, are designed according to the characteristics of the Renault engine, manufactured in Viry-Chatillon, as those products that Total specially developed for its partner teams. "Right now, some parts are still in production and will not be ready until the last moment, explains Eric Boullier. We are pleased with our work and confident, still remains to be seen what will our projections for operating with the arrival of the tires from Pirelli, which replaces Bridge-stone as the official supplier of F1. Tires determine number of technical parameters, and only the track will answer some questions ... "
Four times more expensive than gold!
A budget of 170 million euros for two cars, each weighing 600 kg, the calculation is simple: Lotus Renault is worth more than four times its weight in gold ... the precious metal and platinum, is also used for electronic connections of the car.
For the rest, the design uses materials from the most advanced technologies, including more than thirty different composites to meet the physical constraints (the carbon fiber is five times lighter and twice as strong as steel) . Based on bands of a meter wide, and use the English team this year twenty-five kilometers of carbon!
In total, the jewel of the prototypical Enstone based team will include 30,000 rooms. It would take a week to 150 people for the ride, but on the basis of pre-assembled sets (gearbox, running gear, etc..) Routed on the circuit, it takes only six hours a team of twelve people before the pilot could take the runway.
On incessant wind tunnel tests
The elements of the car the longest to produce, namely the gearbox and monocoque chassis were launched last year. "A Formula 1 transmission is difficult, James Allison justified because it involves complex processes, particularly in terms of metal for the internal components."
Still, the wind tunnel work is the key to a successful F1 team. Outputs of the design office, thousands of model parts are produced and "blown" to be validated or rejected. "It's constant work, day and night since February 2010, knowing that we had at the same time developing the car in the race. Generate downforce is the great obsession of all engineers in F1 ... "
"We phased out during the season the wind tunnel work on the 2010 car to switch to one of the upcoming season." If the ban by the FIA double broadcaster who made the successful Brawn GP 2009 is a performance loss of 10%, Lotus Renault engineers have already remedied, given that the rear wings mobile, new 2011, coupled with the return of the system kinetic energy recovery Kers, provide a gain of 15 km / h .
Lotus Renault has also focused on making its new car easier to drive. "We have some real finds in the field of aero on our car, 2011, but I can not talk," smiled James Allison. New pieces will appear on each of the twenty races. Simulator and a high-tech multi-million euro is being developed. "It will be a vital tool, because the car is perfect in theory, just not drivable by a driver ..."
Calculation means outsized
The engineers at CFD study of fluid dynamics by solving numerically the equations that govern it. At their disposal, a supercomputer, called Mistral, capable of 38 trillion mathematical operations per second, equivalent to every Briton making over a million transactions at the same time! "This department has worked since November 2009, to determine the car for better aerodynamics possible 2011, the latter being more than 60% behind the performance. All progress on managing air flow around and into the car, resulting in a gain clotting, "said technical director James Allison. The dedicated software, developed by Lotus Renault are so successful that Boeing uses the center of the CFD team for its future aircraft.