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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...

Design & manufacturing software

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Software plays a major role these days in defining the Formula One racecar, providing engineers with the primary tools for designing and manufacturing the vehicles. Thanks to its highly competitive culture and substantial budgets, Formula One has always been at the leading edge of software technology, embracing the latest software tools in pursuit of every performance advantage. These range from weight reduction and improved aerodynamic efficiency to decreased development and manufacturing...

Not composite yet

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Carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites first found their way into Formula One during the mid-1970s; however their full potential was not universally recognised until 1981 when John Barnard pioneered the carbon fibre monocoque with the McLaren MP4/1. After John Watson’s crash at Monza that season silenced sceptics’ concerns over structural integrity during impact, all Formula One teams followed suit, developing their own composite monocoques. The carbon fibre revolution...