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Control electronics for the ERS-K and the ERS-H

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The advent of Energy Recovery Systems (ERS) in Formula One since 2009 has brought a new breed of electronic device into the sport, the ERS control electronics (CE). With Formula One’s greater exploitation of ERS for 2014, and with only five CE units allowed for the year, the CE has become very important. The function of the CE is to control the ac three-phase power of the Motor Generator Units (MGUs) and the dc power from the battery. Currently Formula One uses two MGUs, one for the...

Formula One fuel the turbo years

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1988 was a memorable year. Not only were the two greatest drivers of their time – Ayton Senna and Alain Prost – battling for supremacy, and doing it within the same team in similar cars, it was also the last time turbochargers were used in anger in Formula One. Back then, and much like 2014 in some respects, one team dominated. In 1988 it was McLaren. Winning all but one of the races that year using a V6-configured engine; there the similarities end though. In 1988, the winning...

On-track analysis of rival cars

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On-track running is obviously of vital importance to Formula One teams, allowing them to gather real-world data on which to base and validate their performance simulations. However, beyond their own cars, teams are also interested in what the competition is up to and, as such, are always on the look-out for any ideas they may have missed during their own development processes. A lot can be gleaned simply by looking at the cars as they sit in the pit lane, for example McLaren’s...

Magnesium as a piston material

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The racing piston market is dominated by aluminium, as are the roadcar and motorcycle markets, although in general the alloys used in racing are quite different from those in passenger vehicles. As racing engineers we look for increased durability and damage tolerance in our pistons, so we tend to make our pistons either as forgings from high-quality wrought material or machine them directly from billets of wrought aluminium. The exceptions to aluminium pistons in racing are those steel...

The important role of motorsport in development

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Motorsport is a high-stakes game in terms of money and danger. Your opinion on whether it is anything other than a business, entertainment or a sport depends on your involvement – to the club-level participant it is very much a sport; to many of you reading this it represents a business opportunity or your livelihood; and some companies involved treat it as a marketing exercise. In Formula One, there are teams which are run as businesses and which have made some very astute people very...