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CFD versus tunnel versus track – part 2

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As we saw in part 1 of this discussion, Formula One aerodynamics is driven by several toolsets – track testing, full scale tunnel, model scale tunnel testing and CFD. In part 1 we looked at the list on the left of the mind map below, so in this part I want to move on from there and work down the list on the right. Rate of change of car state: This is best illustrated by the braking event at the end of a straight. Here the car changes from a low ride height (high downforce pushing the...


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For reasons that have been explained in depth in various other F1-Monitor articles, composites are still the favoured material for the construction of much of a modern Formula One car. The composites industry is constantly evolving and new materials with improved properties are being developed. One area of advancement with particular relevance to racing applications has been the development of CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced polymer) varieties that can resist high-temperature environments...


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Over the past two seasons, tyres have been in the Formula One spotlight more than ever. Unlike previous seasons, tyre development has been driven by the need for a sporting spectacle rather than ultimate performance. This has placed both Pirelli and the teams in an unusual position. Pirelli has had to build a less than optimal tyre, one that will degrade at a set rate on all the different track surfaces, while the teams have had to try to gain an understanding of the tyre’s...

The black art of machining composites

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The pun in the heading above was too tempting to resist; in reality, however, Formula One engineering is all about knowledge, not magic. The challenge when exploring Formula One technologies is that this knowledge is closely guarded, particularly when it delivers a performance advantage. To this end, carbon fibre reinforced polymer composites (CFRPs) have always had a certain mystique about them. This is due in part to the relative newness of the material (compared with the maturity of...

The steering wheel

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The move in Formula One from mechanical to electronic systems has been mirrored by the development of the steering wheel. No longer wheel-shaped or just for steering, the humble steering wheel now directly controls gearshift and clutch control, as well as a surprisingly wide range of other functions. The ‘wheel’ itself tends to be carbon fibre, with the grips being either suede or the more common silicone mouldings. Attached to the steering column via a quick-release mechanism,...