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Prospects for driverless cars

Needing as it does the support of the automotive industry for its very survival, motor racing has embraced fuel efficiency, hybrids and now electric vehicles. But what about that other major concern of the industry today – the driverless car? If the FIA were to open Formula One to driverless cars next year, what are the chances – disregarding the available development time, hypothetically speaking – that one of the top teams would field a car quicker over either a...

Turbo compressor energy efficiency

For the first time, truly, ever in Formula One, 2014 was all about efficiency – in the amount of fuel the 1.6 litre, turbocharged, direct injected engine consumes over a race, and efficiency of the vehicle aerodynamics. And yet, with the amount of fuel used being around 35% less than in 2013, the cars were just about as quick. Much of the saving, of course, was in the energy recovered under braking, energy that would have otherwise gone to waste in the form of heat out of the exhaust,...

The water tank method of testing wing airflows

When one thinks of aerodynamic testing, CFD, wind tunnel and track testing are the forms that most readily spring to mind. None of these are foolproof, however, and Formula One teams sometimes need to go to unusual lengths in order to validate data gathered using these methods. In one case, the Honda F1 team opted to use a water tank – more normally home to boat hulls – to test some characteristics of rear wing flows. The reason for this unusual choice was that data obtained...

The application of tool steels in race engines

The use of steels in race engines continues to be significant, owing to the combination of properties such as fatigue strength and stiffness these alloys offer. Within the larger category of steel is a still wide range of materials which are known as tool steels. These often have properties that go beyond the usual standards set by low-alloy steels, and were developed for use as tools, often for cutting or forming metals. Although metal-cutting tools are now often made from pure carbides,...

Why don’t we see more of flywheel hybrids?

Motorsport has had an involvement with hybrid technology for more than the past five years. The Panoz Q9 from the late 1990s, often called ‘Sparky’, hardly set the world alight, but the technology was very immature compared to the level we are at now. In the mid-2000s, the FIA proposed that Formula One should incorporate kinetic energy recovery from 2009 so, from 2006 onwards, motor racing companies were working on finding ways to harvest energy under braking, store it until at...