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Top-level motorsport now demands that electrical faults can no longer cause retirements or loss in car performance. For Formula One, the exponential rise in electronics in means that connecting up the various sections of loom to the ECUs and sensors has become critical. In recent years this connectivity has been driven by new systems, such as a standard ECU and KERS. There is then a further rise in complexity as the new 2013 ECU has an even greater capacity for sensors. Then next year the...

Brewer’s fare – the Formula One way

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For the student of automotive history who prefers to concentrate on the technical side of the sport, surely there is no finer topic than the history of racing fuel, particularly those used for Grand Prix racing. By the 1920s, blends of Grand Prix fuel are reported to have consisted of mixtures of ethanol, benzol (a mixture of benzene, toluene and xylene) and the gasoline of the day. Later, and by the late ’30s, ethanol was replaced by the higher specific energy and increased blending...

On-track testing - Aero

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Track testing is a very limited commodity for Formula One teams. In 2013, they are limited to just four pre-season tests – the three free practice sessions before a Grand Prix and a single young driver test. The recent furore surrounding Mercedes’ test session with Pirelli highlighted the importance of track time and the potential impact it can have on car development. Ultimately, there is no substitute for real-world running and teams need to maximise the volume and quality of...


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The FIA regulations governing the materials used for the construction of Formula One engines prohibits the use of composites for major structural components, and this is set to continue, despite the fact that it is planned to use composite cylinder blocks on a much lower budget race engine soon. However, just one bolted joint away from the engine is the transmission, and there are no such regulations which affect the transmission case. Although composites have not been universally adopted,...


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On the face of it, hydrogen is an ideal fuel for an internal combustion engine. The combustion products contain no carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide – indeed the product of complete combustion should be water. It is alternatively presented as a panacea for road transportation by those who point to emissions, and as being a non-starter by those who point out that the production of hydrogen takes much more energy than can be liberated by its combustion, and the difficulties in producing...