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The use of tungsten in motor racing is widespread, especially on the chassis side of the business, where its high density makes the material prized for use as chassis ballast. Commonly cars are designed and made underweight compared to the regulations in force, and are then ballasted to meet the minimum mass. Such is the effectiveness of achieving the correct weight distribution that cars are often designed to be well underweight, and a surprisingly large proportion of their mass is...

Electric motors

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As we move ever further along the road of increasing the efficiency of race engines and drivetrains, we will see energy recovery play a more important part. Turbo-compounding, where energy is recovered from the exhaust flow, remains strictly for commercial vehicles for the time being. However, regenerative braking is very much a current technology, both for roadcars and in racing. With Williams, Flybrid and Zytek active in sportscar racing, and the Formula One engine manufacturers running...

White-metal magic

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Still considered by many to be some of the best materials around, white bearings are still commonly used in many vintage racers. This is not, as you might suppose, as a result of just the friction qualities of the material alone, but more as a consequence of its 'embeddability' (the ability to absorb dirt into its surface) and its nature to yield under excessive local pressures - as a result of, say, shaft misalignment - which prevents seizing. In a properly designed bearing, the oil...

Ramping up

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As an engineer first, a motorsport enthusiast second and historian third, I welcome the recent upsurge in historic rallying. But whereas most journalists or writers would perhaps reflect on the sheer thrill of hearing the sound of a BDA reverberating through the forests, my particular recollection is listening to one particular example idling just before entering a service halt. To put it bluntly, it sounded like a bag full of hammers! I'm used to listening to hot engines, and beneath...

Bearing coatings

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The preponderance of multi-cylinder four-stroke race engines means that the production and supply of bearing shells is big business. The share of the bearing market occupied by two-stroke and four-stroke engines with assembled crankshafts that use rolling-element main and crankpin bearings, or four-stroke engines that are designed to use special rolling-element bearings with split outer races, is very small indeed. The manufacture of bearings, through the application of better...