Formula 1 for Beginners

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Formula 1 performance
Steering Wheel, Brakes, Driver’s Seat and Tyres
Exploded view of a F1 car
Formula 1 Steering Wheel
New Era - The new Formula 1 engines
Hard core - The Formula 1 monocoque
Formula 1 Engines
Downforce in Formula 1
Formula 1 Car Construction
Formula 1 gearing and transmission in short
Shell – Fuel for the Race Machine
Aerodynamics: The science of the wind
F1 V/s MotoGP technique
Formula 1 history – In Brief
Careers in Formula 1

Formula 1 Performance
Grand Prix cars and the cutting edge technology that constitute them produce an unprecedented combination of outright speed and quickness for the drivers. Every F1 car on the grid is capable of going from nought to 160km/h (100 mph) and back to nought in less than five seconds. During a demonstration at the Silverstone circuit in Britain, an F1 McLaren car driven by David Coulhard gave a pair of Mercedes-Benz street cars a head start of seventy seconds, and was able to beat the cars to the finish line from a standing start.

Despite F1 cars being fast in a straight line, they also have incredible cornering ability. Grand Prix can negotiate corners at much higher speeds than other types racing car because of the intense levels of grip and downforce. Cornering speed is so high that Formula One drivers have strength training routines just for the neck muscles. Juan Pablo Montoya claims to be able to perform 300 reps of 50 pounds with his neck.

The combination of light weight (440 kg dry), power (950 bhp with the 3.0 L V10, 750 bhp with the 2006 regulation 2.4 L V8), aerodynamics, and ultra-high performance tyres is what gives the F1 car its performance figures. The principle consideration for F1 designers is acceleration, and not simply top speed. Acceleration is not just linear forward acceleration, but three types of acceleration can be considered for an F1 car's, and all cars' in general, performance:

  • Linear forward acceleration
  • Linear deceleration (braking)
  • Turning acceleration (centripetal acceleration
Unless a car is to be raced solely on high-speed ovals (where only top speed matters), all three accelerations should be maximised. The way these three accelerations are obtained and their values are:

Forward acceleration
The 2006 F1 cars have a power-to-weight ratio of 1250 hp/tonne (930 W/kg). Theoretically this would allow the car to reach 100 km/h in less than 1 second. However the massive power cannot be converted to motion at low speeds due to traction loss, and the usual figure is 2 seconds to reach 100 km/h. After about 130 km/h traction loss is minimal due to the combined effect of the car moving faster and the downforce, hence the car continues accelerating at a very high rate. The figures are (for the 2005 Renault

  • 0 to 100 km/h: 1.9 seconds
  • 0 to 200 km/h: 3.9 seconds
  • 0 to 300 km/h: 8.4 seconds, may be slightly more or less depending on the aerodynamic setup.
The acceleration figure is usually 1.4 g (14 m/s²) up to 200 km/h, which means the driver is pushed back in the seat with 1.4 times his bodyweight.

The carbon brakes in combination with the aerodynamics produces truly remarkable braking forces. The deceleration force under braking is usually 4 g (40 m/s²), and can be as high as 5 g when braking from extreme speeds, for instance at the Gilles Villenueve circuit. Here the aerodynamic drag actually helps, and can contribute as much as 1.0 g of braking force, which is the equivalent of the brakes on most sports cars. In other words, if the throttle is let go, the F1 car will slow down under drag at the same rate as most sports cars do with braking, at least at speeds above 150 km/h. The drivers also utilise 'engine braking' by downshifting rapidly.
As a result of these high braking forces, an F1 car can come to a complete stop from 300 km/h in less than 4 seconds.

Turning acceleration
As mentioned above, the car can accelerate to 300 km/h very quickly, however the top speeds are not much higher than 330 km/h at most circuits, being highest at Monza (365 km/h in 2004), Indianapolis and Gilles-Villenueve (about 350 km/h at both). This is because the top speeds are sacrificed for the turning speeds. An F1 car is designed principally for high-speed cornering, thus the aerodynamic elements can produce as much as three times the car's weight in downforce, at the expense of drag. In fact, at a speed of just 130 km/h, the downforce equals the weight of the car. As the speed of the car rises, the downforce increases. The turning force at low speeds (below 70 to about 100 km/h) mostly comes from the so-called 'mechanical grip' of the tyres themselves. At such low speeds the car can turn at 2.0 g. At 200 km/h already the turning acceleration is 3.0 g, as evidenced by the famous Turn 8 at the Istanbul Park circuit. This contrasts with the 1.3 g of the Ferrari Enzo, one of the best racing sports cars.
These turning accelerative forces allow an F1 car to corner at amazing speeds, seeming to defy the laws of physics. As an example of the extreme cornering speeds, the Blanchimont and Eau Rouge corners at Spa-Francorchamps are taken flat-out at above 300 km/h, whereas the race-spec GT cars in the ETCC can only do so at 150–160 km/h.

Top Speeds

As of April 2006. the top speeds of Formula 1 cars are a little over 300 km/h at high-downforce tracks such as Albert Park, Australia and Sepang, Malaysia. These speeds are down by some 10 km/h from the 2005 speeds, and 15 km/h from the 2004 speeds, due to the recent performance restrictions (see below). On the low-downforce circuits such as Gilles-Villeneuve(Canada) and Indianapolis (USA), the speeds were 335~350 km/h in 2005, and at Monza (Italy) 365 km/h. However the true top speed in a straight line of a modern Formula 1 car in can be measured when its downforce is modified accordingly for straight-line running. With minimal downforce wing settings, BAR Honda managed to run their FIA race-spec F1 car at 413.205 km/h on 6 Nov, 2005 during a shakedown leading to their 'Bonneville 400' attempt.Recent FIA performance restrictions.

In an effort to reduce speeds and increase driver safety, the FIA has continuously introduced new rules for F1 constructors in the 1990s. These rules have included restrictions on engine computer technology, as well as the introduction of grooved tyres. Yet despite these changes, constructors continue to extract performance gains by increasing power and aerodynamic efficiency. As a result, the pole position speed at many circuits in comparable weather conditions dropped between 1.5 and 3 seconds in 2004 over the prior year's times. In 2006 the engine power was reduced from 950 bhp to 750 bhp (710 to 560 kW) by going from the 3.0 L V10's used for over a decade to 2.4 L V8's. This is carried over into 2006 the aerodynamic restrictions introduced in 2005 meant to reduce downforce by about 30%. However most teams were able to successfully reduce this to a mere 5 to 10% downforce loss.

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Steering Wheel, Brakes, Driver’s Seat and Tyres

micopersonFormula 1 is a highly complex sport, where many elements of man and machine combine to strive for peak performance. But what is the story behind these details? In the first part of Panasonic Toyota Racing’s ‘Formula 1 for Beginners’ series, Chief Engineer Race and Test Dieter Gass explains the role of the steering wheel, brakes, driver’s seat and tyres.


Even to the least technically-minded observer, the main role of the steering wheel is obvious – it is the outlet for a driver’s split-second reactions, a high-tech paint brush for a Formula 1 artist. But there is much more to the steering wheel’s function than simply changing direction.
Unlike a road car, which has a dashboard dotted with switches and levers, a Formula 1 car has only the steering wheel, so any option the driver needs to use while at the wheel must, literally, be at the touch of a button.
Dieter explains: “The steering wheel is a very important element of a car. Basically the steering wheel, apart from brake and throttle pedals, is everything the driver needs to control the car. Therefore on the front we have a lot of switches which the driver is using while he is driving, for example the pit speed limiter, or he can influence the traction control.

controler“But this is not everything because on the other side we have levers which the driver is operating to shift gears and as well the clutch because we don’t have a foot-operated clutch pedal in the car.”

With drivers using it to change gear up to 3,000 times a race, negotiate every turn of a 300km race, as well as change car settings, communicate with their team on the radio, and even operate their drinking system the steering wheel is a vital piece of equipment.

cockpitWith all that high-speed action to deal with, a driver needs to be sitting comfortably, especially given the fearsome forces exerted on their bodies by the fastest racing cars in the world.
For that reason, Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli have seats custom made to exactly fit the shape of their bodies, as Dieter explains: “The driver’s seat is made onto the driver so it is the perfect shape in order to give him the best stability while he is driving. He has to be able to cope with an enormous amount of force when he is accelerating, braking or cornering.”
Under such extremes, even the most minor discomfort is amplified and can become a real problem, affecting a driver’s concentration and, ultimately, his wellbeing, so Panasonic Toyota Racing leaves nothing to chance and ensures a perfect fit for its drivers.
As well as comfort, safety is of critical importance and the driver’s seat is enclosed in a carbon fibre monocoque – an extremely strong safety cell which protects the driver in case of an accident by absorbing an impact. Dieter adds: “It is very important to highlight to use of carbon fibre because this has increased the level of safety for the driver over the last 20 years so it is now very high.”



With impressive acceleration and the ability to hit 160kmph in under six seconds, a Formula 1 car needs some serious stopping power, delivered by high-performance carbon brakes which, from that speed, can bring the car back to a stop in six seconds.

This is possible only by using carbon brakes, which have an operating temperature, on average, of 650°C and can get as hot as 900°C.

“The brakes are one of the elements which offer the biggest difference between a Formula 1 car and road car,” Dieter says. “It starts with the material. We are using exclusively carbon brakes which offer very, very good performance in braking but carbon is a very sensitive material.

“The carbon brakes only work in the right temperature window - if you are below 300°C there is almost no braking at all so it is important to heat up the brakes. On the other hand it is important not to have the temperature too high. This is why we have big cooling ducts on all four brakes. In this way the temperature is controlled and we have the optimum brake temperature for the optimum braking performance.”

tyresBrakes are a crucial factor but, as with everything on a Formula 1 car, performance has to be transferred to the race track, and this is where tyres come in. As well as the two compounds of dry-weather tyres at each weekend, the softer of which is marked by a white line in one of the grooves, all teams also have wet and extreme wet tyres in case of rain.

All the energy produced by a Formula 1 car is transmitted to the track through a small contact patch on each of the four tyres, making grip levels and tyre wear rates critical to overall performance.
In 2007, Panasonic Toyota Racing is using Bridgestone Potenza tyres for the second successive season, but the overall situation changed from 2006, as Dieter explains: “This season is the first year since 2000 that everyone is using Bridgestone tyres exclusively and we have a total of four different compounds available over the season, two for every race weekend.

 “The different compounds give different grip levels but what is similar is the working temperature. All the tyres work best on average at around 80°C, this is when they offer their best grip to the car. What we need to determine is what compound to use in which conditions, therefore we have four compounds available.

“If you have a surface with a very abrasive surface, for example Barcelona, it is difficult for the tyres so you would use a hard compound. On other circuits which are not so demanding, for example Monaco, you would use the softer compound.”As with everything In Formula 1, it is these details which combine to produce the ultimate performance.

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Exploded view of a F1 car

  1. Tyre rim
  2. Wheel nut
  3. Brake pads
  4. Brake disc
  5. Brake caliper
  6. Upright
  7. Brake duct
  8. Front lower wishbone
  9. Front upper wishbone
  10. Front pushrod
  11. Front track rod
  12. Side damper
  13. Fairing
  14. Front wing end plate
  15. Front wing main plane
  16. Front wing flap
  17. Nose cone
  18. Steering housing
  19. Front 3rd element
  20. Headrest
  21. Steering wheel
  22. Bullwinkle
  23. Main turning vane
  24. Forward turning vane
  25. Seat
  26. Pedals
  27. Airhorn
  28. Cooler
  29. Cooler duct
  30. Engine heat shield
  31. Engine
  32. Wheel nut
  33. Brake pads
  34. Brake disc
  35. Brake duct
  36. Brake caliper
  37. Drive shaft/upright
  38. Rear lower wishbone
  39. Rear upper wishbone
  40. Rear pushrod
  41. Rear toe link
  42. Gearbox
  43. Rear crasher
  44. Rain light
  45. Rear lower main plane
  46. Rear upper wing
  47. Rear wing end plate
  48. Sidepod
  49. Mirror
  50. Monocoque
  51. Engine cover
  52. Batman
  53. Earwing
  54. Top exit
  55. Floor
  56. Diffusor

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Formula 1 Steering Wheel


The driver has the ability to fine tune many elements of the race car from within the machine using the steering wheel. The wheel can be used to
alter traction control settings, change gears, apply rev limiter, adjust fuel air mix, change brake pressure and call the radio. Data such as rpm, laptimes, speed and gear is displayed on an LCD screen. The wheel alone can cost about $40,000, and with carbon fibre construction, weighs in at 1.3 kilograms.


  1. Drink pump
  2. Dashboard menu: Increment
  3. Prepare/arm the launch control system. Also oil pump button when running
  4. Neutral gear request
  5. Tyre selection (dry, inter, wet)
  6. Alarm acknowledge
  7. Active diff control
  8. Active diff control
  9. Active diff control
  10. Active diff control
  11. Traction control
  12. Traction control
  13. Cut engine to turn it off
  14. Fuel mixtures. To save fuel or give more power.
  15. Pit lane speed limiter
  16. Active launch control system
  17. Dashboard menu: decrement
  18. Display brakebalance on dashboard

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New Era - The new Formula 1 engines

With the Bahrain Grand Prix in Manama as an example

Formula 1 will entered a new era at the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2007, the teams were only be allowed to use eight-cylinder engines with a maximum cubic capacity of 2400cm3, which will produce about 200HP less than the ten-cylinder engines used last year. The goal is clear: increasing safety by reducing power.

The new regulations will push the engines even further into the limelight in Formula 1. “A V8 spends much more time in the wide-open throttle range every lap than a V10,” explained Alex Hitzinger, Head of the Formula 1 project at WilliamsF1’s engine partner, Cosworth. “So the engine performance will become even more critical for the overall performance of the car.”

developmentof theThe loss of power is not causing the engineers any headaches. As in the past,
it is estimated that every season they will probably regain 20 to 30 HP of the
roughly 200HP they have had to give up because of this reduction in engine capacity. However, it was much more difficult to reconcile the whole series of parameters that were specified for the new engines. For example, the minimum weight of 95kg combined with the other specification of the minimum height for the centre of gravity has meant that the V8 is much heavier than it actually needs to be. The engineers did the best they could and designed the engine much more rigidly, which has benefited the handling of the cars. Because they did not need to watch every single gram, they also made several static components like the cylinder block and the cylinder heads much more robust, and so increased the service life of the engines.

The new regulations have not changed the basic task of exploiting the rules as much as possible and so gaining a valuable advantage even before the season starts. “We set ourselves a target of a top engine speed of 20,000rpm,” said Alex Hitzinger, “and we’ve managed that.” The new engine for the Williams FW28 drove its first kilometres on the test stand on October 12, 2005, and the first test drives on the track were held just five weeks later. Despite the engineers’ love of detail, it was important to keep an eye on the bigger picture, such as delivering a compact, mechanical package to the aerodynamic engineers to leave them as much freedom as possible for their work. 

bank  Because a V8 is much shorter than a V10 and by its nature also needs less cooling, it was possible to visably streamline the new car at the rear, which helped the aerodynamics.

cylindersNew engine concepts are also in the pipeline for road car production. “The increase in fuel prices will be a major driving force in the next few years for the development of engine technology,” said Dr. Christoph Lauterwasser from the Allianz Centre for Tech-nology (AZT). On the one hand, that means low-consumption, efficient engines, which explains the continued trend towards diesel vehicles, whose engines are about 30% more efficient than comparable petrol engines.

But, on the other hand, there is a grow-ing proportion of hybrid vehicles that combine a combustion engine with an electric engine and produce excellent fuel consumption and lower CO2 values. “The signify-cance of alternative fuels like natural gas and biofuels will increase all over the world,” said Lauterwasser. “If you also consider the tests on hydrogen vehicles and fuel cells, it’s easy to see that we are heading towards a new level of variety under the bonnet.”

centerIn Formula 1, the engine capacity was reduced from 3.5 to 3 litres for safety reasons in 1995. However, that did not interrupt the power explosion, and to halt it further, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) then decided to impose more restrictions: for instance, in the 2004 season, each engine had to last a full grand prix weekend, and since 2005 it has only been permissible to use one engine for two racing weekends. Of course, all these rules are open to exceptions: with the permission of the FIA, the smaller teams will still be permitted to use ten-cylinder engines, but their engine speed must be limited to a maximum of 16,700rpm.

The new engine concept will also affect the racing strategy of the teams, because at the end of the day a V8 at full power consumes about 15% less fuel than a V10. That will either shorten the distances that can be driven between pit stops or it will shorten the pit stops themselves, because the car does not need as much fuel as before. The strategists are already racking their brains. According to Hitzinger, “there will certainly be lots of changes in terms of the tactics.”

devolopmentof dimension material

Mark Webber:“On this track, the latest safety standards have been implemented beautifully. Especially in the run-off zones, which are designed so generously that a driver error doesn’t immediately lead to an accident. We will lose time, but we can carry on driving. Even if one of us makes a mistake in one of the fast sections, there is always enough space so you don’t immediately hit a wall. It was also a good idea to cover the areas to the left and right of the track with grass: that stops cars that are driving past from swirling sand and dust up on to the track.”

Thanks to Allianz- Graphics by Allianz

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Hard core - The Formula 1 monocoque
with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne as example

Two elements are crucial for the designers in the development of a new Formula 1 car: speed and safety. The engine, aerodynamics and tyres look after the speed, while the monocoque guarantees the safety of the driver in extreme situations. This carbon fibre safety cell is virtually indestructible and plays a key role in the safety of Formula 1.


The safety standards in top-class motor racing have improved at a breathtaking rate in recent years. The monocoque was invented by the legendary designer and Lotus team boss Colin Chapman , who inserted a riveted lightweight metal case instead of the classic tubular frame in his Lotus 25 in 1962. On the infinite safety scale, it has now reached a level that will be hard to surpass.

As Brian O’Rourke, specialist for composite materials with the WilliamsF1 Team says: “The monocoques used in Formula 1 are safer than they have ever been. Nonetheless, research and development in this field still continue because safety has the highest priority for the drivers.”

Similar to the monocoque in Formula 1, the robust cell in passenger cars represents the heart of passive safety. It too should be affected as little as possible in the case of serious accidents. “It is crucial that the doors can still be opened easily after an accident,” said Dr. Hartmuth Wolff from the Allianz Centre for Technology (AZT). “This stability is achieved with the selective use of high-strength steel in areas that require high rigidity: for example, in the pillars.” However, rigidity alone is not enough in the area of the passenger cell. “For ideal occupant safety, the deformation behaviour, the rigidity of the cell and the function of the restraint systems and the seats must be coordinated precisely with each other,” said Wolff.


In the Formula 1, the monocoque has become the most important component in the drivers’ overall safety package since McLaren first sent cars with a carbon fibre safety cell onto the starting grid in 1984.

In spite of the high standard achieved, however, Formula 1’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), never ceases in its efforts to improve safety in the sport even more.

The crash tests which have been stipulated by the FIA since 1985 guarantee the load capacity of the monocoque and the crash structure, and they have become more and more stringent over the years.

Since 1997, it has been obligatory for the rear structure as well as the side crash structures and the roll-over BAR to pass a crash test before every season. Here, again, the FIA is not satisfied with the standards already achieved and raised the level of the requirements a little higher before the 2006 season began by increasing the impact speed for the dynamic crash test of the rear area from 12 to 15 metres per second. That corresponds to an increase of 56 per cent in the impact energy on the rear crash structure, showing how much importance the FIA attaches to crash safety as reliable life insurance for the drivers.


The monocoques are made from carbon fibre, a composite material that is twice as strong as steel, but five times lighter. It consists of up to 12 layers of carbon fibre mats, in which each of the individual threads is five times thinner than a human hair. A honeycomb-shaped aluminium layer is inserted between these mats, which increases the rigidity of the monocoque even more. The whole shell is then heated under pressure in the autoclave, a giant oven. After two and a half hours, the shell is hardened, but still the baking procedure is repeated twice more.

supportingelementAs a result, the monocoques are strong enough to protect the drivers even in the most serious of accidents, like the one involving Giancarlo Fisichella at Silverstone in 1997. The evaluation of the black box showed that his Jordan slowed from 227km/h to zero in just 0.72 seconds, which corresponds mathematically to a fall from a height of 200 metres. Even so, the Italian only suffered a minor injury to his knee – thanks in part to the monocoque.

Mark Webber:“On a road course such as Albert Park , we are inevitably relatively close to the walls. That can be dangerous both for us drivers and for the spectators. In recent years, the organisers have worked extremely hard to improve safety for the spectators – and they’ve succeeded. But they didn’t forget the drivers, either. There are run-off zones at key points on the circuit. It wasn’t easy to integrate them, but the people in charge have found an excellent solution.”

Thanks to Allianz

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Formula 1 Engines
i l
For a decade F1 cars have run with 3.0 litre normally-aspirated V10 engines, but In an attempt to slow the cars down, the FIA has mandated that as of the 2006 season there will be a new engine package. The regulations specify that the cars must be powered by 2.4 litre naturally-aspirated engines in the V8 configuration that have no more than four valves per cylinder. Further technical restrictions such as a ban on variable intake trumpets have been also been introduced with the new 2.4L V8 formula to prevent the teams from achieving higher rpm and horsepower too quickly. As of the start of the 2006 season most engines on the grid rev up to 19000 rpm, with the Cosworth V8 powering the going up to an astonishing 20000 rpm in qualifying trim.

Once the teams started using exotic alloys such as titanium in the late 1990s, the FIA banned the use of exotic materials in engine construction, and only aluminum and iron alloys were allowed for the pistons, cylinders, connecting rods, and crankshafts. Npistonevertheless through engineering on the limit and use such devices as pneumatic valves, modern F1 engines have revved up to over 18000 rpm since approximately the 2000 season. Almost each year the FIA has enforced material and design restrictions to limit power, otherwise the 3.0L V10 engines would easily have exceeded 22000 rpm and well over 1000hp (750kW). Even with the restrictions the V10's in the 2005 season were reputed to develop 960hp (715kW) . The new 2.4L V8 engines are reported to develop between 720hp and 750hp (535 to 560 kW), with the Williams Cosworth unit being the most powerful.

The more poorly funded teams (Ferrari spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year developing their car, while the former Minardi team spent less than 50 million) will have the option of keeping the current V10 for another season, but the engines will have their components de-tuned to keep them from having any advantage over the V8 engines.The engines produce over 100 000 BTU per minute (1750kW) of heat that must be dumped, usually to the atmosphere via radiators and the exhaust, which can reach temperatures over 1000 degrees Celsius (1800 to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit). They consume around 650 litres (23 ft³) of air per second. Race fuel consumption rate is normally around 75 litres per 100 kilometres travelled (3.1 US mpg). Nonetheless a Formula One engine is over 20% more efficient at turning fuel into power than even the most economical small car.

All cars have the engine located between the driver and the rear axle. The engines are a stressed member in most cars, meaning that the engine is part of the structural support framework; being bolted to the cockpit at the front end, and transmission and rear suspension at the back end.


In the 2004 championship, engines were required to last a full race weekend; in the 2005 championship, they are required to last two full race weekends and if a team changes an engine between the two races, they incur a penalty of 10 grid positions.

Formula One engines must be naturally aspirated, four-stroke internal combustion petrol engines with reciprocating circular pistons and a maximum of two intake and two exhaust valves per cylinder . They must be V8 engines and have a 2.4 liters of displacement.

The rules between 1998 and 2005 stated that Formula One engines may be no more than 3 litres engine displacement and must have 10 cylinders. In order to curb increasing power levels, the maximum engine displacement has been reduced to 2.4 litres, and the number of cylinders to 8 for 2006. However, a concession is made in the rules to allow some teams the option of running 10 cylinder 3.0 l engines for 2006. This rule is intended to help poorer teams unable to produce an engine and chassis to comply fully with the new regulations in time for the 2006 season. All teams using the 10 cylinder 3.0l engines will be subject to a rev limiter to decrease power.


Devices designed to pre-cool air before it enters the cylinders are not allowed, nor is the injection of any substance into the cylinders other than air and (petrol) fuel. Variable-length exhaust systems are also forbidden.
The crankshaft and camshafts must be made of steel or cast iron. The use of carbon composite materials for the cylinder block, cylinder head and pistons is not allowed.

Separate starting devices may be used to start engines in the pits and on the grid. If the engine is fitted with an anti-stall device, this must be set to cut the engine within ten seconds in the event of an accident.

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Downforce in Formula 1

blueyellowThree different styles of front wings, all designed to produce downforce on the front wheels.
The term downforce describes the downward pressure created by the aerodynamic characteristics of a car that allow it to travel faster through a corner by holding the car to the track or road surface.The same principle that allows an airplane to rise off the ground by creating lift under its wings is used in reverse to apply force that presses the race car against the surface of the track. This effect is referred to as "aerodynamic grip" and is distinguished from


"mechanical grip," which is a function of the car mass repartitition, tires and suspension. The creation of downforce by passive devices can only be achieved at the cost of increased aerodynamic drag (or friction), and the optimum setup is always a compromise between the two. The aerodynamic setup for a car can vary considerably between race tracks, depending on the length of the straights and the types of corners; some drivers also make different choices on setup. Because it is a function of the flow of air over and under the car, and because aerodynamic forces increase with the the square of velocity, downforce increases exponentially with the speed of the car and requires a certain minimum speed in order to produce a significant effect. But some cars have had rather unstable aerodynamics, such that a minor change in angle of attack or height of the vehicle (for example, caused by a bump on the track) has caused the car to experience lift, not downforce, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

bagTwo primary components of a racing car can be used to create downforce when the car is travelling at racing speed :
the shape of the body, and the use of airfoils. Most racing formulae have a ban on aerodynamic devices that can be adjusted during a race, except at pit stops.

The Body
The rounded and tapered shape of the top of the car is designed to slice through the air and minimize wind resistance. Detailed pieces of bodywork on top of the car can be added to allow a smooth flow of air to reach the downforce-creating elements (i.e., wings or spoilers, and underbody tunnels). The underside of the body is similar in shape to an inverted wing and creates an area of low pressure between the car and the track, pressing the car to the road. This is sometimes called a ground effect and has been the subject of many rule changes over the years in different racing series.

The amount of downforce created by the wings or spoilers on a car is dependent primarily on two things:
The shape, including surface area, aspect ratio and cross-section of the device, and
The device's orientation (or angle of attack).
A larger surface area creates greater downforce and greater drag. The aspect ratio is the width of the airfoil divided by its depth. Also, a greater angle of attack (or tilt) of the wing or spoiler, creates more downforce and more drag.

The rear wing of a modern Formula One car, with three aerodynamic elements (1, 2, 3).

The rows of holes for adjustment of the angle of attack (4) and installation of another element (5) are visible on the wing's endplate.

The function of the airfoils at the front of the car is two-fold. They create downforce that enhances the grip of the front tires , while also optimizing (or minimizing disturbance to) the flow of air to the rest of the car. The front wings on an open-wheeled car undergo constant modification as data is gathered from race to race, and are customized for every characteristic of a particular circuit (see top photos). In most series, the wings are even designed for adjustment during the race itself when the car is serviced.

The flow of air at the rear of the car is affected by the front wings, front wheels, mirrors, driver's helmet, side pods and exhaust. This causes the rear wing to be less aerodynamically efficient than the front wing, Yet, because it must generate more than twice as much downforce as the front wings in order to maintain the handling to balance the car, the rear wing typically has a much larger aspect ratio, and often uses two or more elements to compound the amount of downforce created (see photo at left). Like the front wings, each of these elements can often be adjusted when the car is serviced, before or even during a race, and are the object of constant attention and modification.

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Formula 1 Car Construction
The cars are constructed from composites of carbon fibre and similar ultra-lightweight (and incredibly expensive to manufacture) materials. The minimum weight permissible is 600 kg including the driver, fluids and on-board cameras. However, all F1 cars weigh significantly less than this (some as little as 440 kg) so teams add ballast to the cars to bring them up to the minimum legal weight. The advantage of using ballast is that it can be placed anywhere in the car to provide ideal weight distribution.

Tyres in Formula 1
By regulation, the tyres feature a minimum of four grooves in them, with the intention of slowing the cars down (a slick tyre, with no indentations, is best in dry conditions). They can be no wider than 355 mm and 380 mm at the front and rear respectively. Unlike the fuel, the tyres bear only a superficial resemblance to a normal road tyre. Whereas a roadcar tyre has a useful life of up to 80000km, in 2005, a tyre is built to last just one race distance (a little over 300km). This is the result of a drive to maximize the road-holding ability, leading to the use of very soft compounds (to ensure that the tyre surface conforms to the road surface as closely as possible).


Brakes in Formula 1
f1tyresDisc brakes consist of a rotor and caliper at each wheel. Expensive carbon-carbon composite rotors are used instead of steel or cast iron because of their superior frictional, thermal, and anti-warping properties, as well as significant weight savings. The driver can control brake force distribution fore and aft using a control on the steering wheel to compensate for changes in track conditions. An average F1 car can decelerate from 100-0 km/h (60-0 mph) in about 17 metres (55 feet), compared with a Dodge Viper (considered one of the best mass-production street cars for braking), which takes around 34 metres (112 feet). Usual braking forces for an F1 car are 4.5 g to 5.0 g (45 to 50 m/s²) when braking from 300 km/h, and can be as high as 5.5 g at the high-speed circuits such as Gilles Villenueve (Canadian GP) and Monza (Italian GP). This contrasts with 1.0 g to 1.5 g for the best sports cars (the Bugatti Veyron is claimed to be able to brake at 1.3 g).

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Formula 1 gearing and transmission in short

plainFormula One cars use semi-automatic sequential gearboxes with six or seven forward gears and one reverse gear. The driver signals gear changes using paddles mounted on the back of the steering wheel and electro-hydraulics perform the actual change as well as throttle control. Clutch control is also performed electro-hydraulically except from and to a standstill when the driver must operate the clutch using a lever mounted on the back of the steering wheel.

By regulation the cars use rear wheel drive. A modern F1 clutch is a multi-plate carbon design with a diameter of less than four inches (100 mm), weighing less than a kilogram and handling 900 horsepower (670 kW) or so.
Fully Engaged - Monte Carlo as example
The Monaco Grand Prix is not only one of the hardest stress tests in the Formula 1 calendar for the drivers: the race on the streets of the Principality on the Cote d'Azur also places huge demands on the machinery, and especially the gearbox. Going through roughly 3,600 gearshifts, the gearbox has to give its all on the city track with its many corners. That’s extremely hard work – equivalent to one change every second.

engineHowever, the fact that in Monaco the drivers have to change gear roughly 20 per cent more often than on tracks such as Monza is not the only problem. “Because of the many undulations and bumps on the city track, the wheels lose ground contact for a fraction of a second every so often,” explains Gordon Day from the WilliamsF1 Team. “That makes shifting gear really difficult, even if the gearbox is set up perfectly.”

The days of manual gearshifts in Formula 1 are long past. That makes the work easier for the drivers, who can engage a new gear with a rocker switch on the steering wheel, but not for the gearbox. A gearshift lasts roughly 25 to 30 milliseconds, and a lot of things happen in that short time that have to be coordinated perfectly. For instance, if the driver shifts gear at precisely the moment when the engine speed is increasing quickly because he has just driven over a manhole cover, the whole gearshift can often get out of rhythm. The teams closely monitor how well the gearbox copes with the stress: it is completely dismantled after every race and checked for cracks.

spiningWhen performing at the limit, the gearbox is subjected to extreme loads. And for his own safety, the driver needs to be able to rely on the fact that all the parts will cope with these strains. No wonder the very best is only just good enough for a Formula 1 gearbox. For instance, the gearbox housing, which has to be as rigid as possible because the entire rear axle is attached to it, is generally made of titanium and carbon fibre. The ball bearings are ceramic and the gear wheels are made of high strength steel. Due to their low weight, aluminium and various plastics are used as additional materials.

A gearbox is a carefully cultured, high-tech product, and its 400 individual parts are all specially produced – right down to the bearings and seals. Naturally, that all has its price: a Formula 1 gearbox, according to expert estimates, costs about 125,000 euros. The reliability of the individual parts varies: while the gear wheels are replaced after every race, the gearbox housing normally lasts for the whole season. The gearbox is fastened on the rear of the engine and connected directly to the carbon-fibre clutch, which costs about 10,000 €, weighs less than 1.5kg and has to withstand temperatures up to 500°C.

quikshiftIn passenger cars, the strains on the gearbox and clutch are much less extreme, but even so the gearbox technology in particular has developed dynamically in recent years. “The trend towards more gears and automatic transmissions is allowing us to develop efficient engine management with speeds that cause lower fuel consumption,” says Dr. Christoph Lauterwasser from the Allianz Centre for Technology. “Thanks to modern control technology, the transmission and engine management and the brake and stabilisation systems can be networked together. That means greater driving comfort and the possibility of adapting individually to the specific driving conditions. For instance, the shifting points can be varied from sporty to economical or you can engage or disengage the clutch electronically, depending on the driving situation.”

smallerlighterIn Formula 1, every team builds its own gearbox. The regulations stipulate a minimum of four and maximum of seven forward gears and one reverse gear. The design of the gearbox is closely linked to the aerodynamics of the car. In 2005, the gearboxes had to become smaller because there was less space available due to the new aerodynamics regulations. This year, the change from V10 to V8 engines has allowed the teams to continue on this reduction diet. However, the actual advantage of the new gearboxes is not their smaller size, but their lower weight. After all, every kilogram saved can be used somewhere else in the car to aid its balance.

The designers guard the facts about the size of the weight advantage like a state secret. They do not even disclose the precise weight of the gearbox, which is between 25 and 35kg. The experts only let one small fact slip: nowadays, the gearboxes in Formula 1 are not only about 20 per cent lighter than five years ago, but also much more robust – which makes them safer.

Mark Webber: “On the narrow city track of Monaco, which naturally doesn’t have the same high safety standards as other grand prix tracks, you can’t afford even the smallest mistake. There aren’t any real run-off zones, just walls and crash barriers. The eight second drive through the harbour tunnel is particularly critical: the only real full-throttle section in the whole maze of corners. The changes in the light are extreme. At least now they have installed reflectors that guide natural daylight into the tunnel to improve the vision. One small step towards greater safety.”

Thanks to Allianz- Graphics by Allianz

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Shell – Fuel for the Race Machine
Fuel is a subject often discussed in Formula One circles, but nearly always in relation to its weight and repercussions on speed, or its role in pit stop strategy and the distance a Formula One car can travel before it re-fuels.

Interestingly, what is often overlooked and rarely considered is what fuel does inside the engine to achieve performance in these areas. Shell and Ferrari have been working closely together to develop their fuel advantage in this respect.

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The Ferrari Formula One car pulls in the to pit
The fuel hose attaches to the car and the ‘camera' follows the Shell V-Power race fuel as it flows through the inner hose at 12 litres per second. Fuel vapour from the tank returns back up the hose toward the re-fuelling rig, flowing between the inner and outer hoses.

Mike Evans, Shell Formula One Fuels Development Project Leader explains, “Shell and Ferrari first worked together over 60 years ago. Recently, our technical partnership has seen the development of Shell V-Power race fuel, which is designed to provide Ferrari with three main advantages – first, give the engine more power and responsiveness through optimised formulation and friction reduction; second, improve fuel economy; and thirdly, offer protection and increase the reliability of the engine.”
Generating more power from the fuel has been a key focus for the 40-strong Shell Formula One team in the last few months. The latest fuel developed by Shell contains Friction Modification Technology. Targeting mainly the piston rings, the technology is designed to help the engine turn more freely, unlocking valuable energy and helping improve horsepower. Formulated with powerful cleansing agents, the fuel also helps prevent power-robbing deposits from forming on inlet valves and injection systems, improving responsiveness.


The tank fills
The ‘camera' follows the Shell V-Power race fuel along the fuel rail into the fuel injectors. The fuel is then injected into the inlet trumpet, where it mixes with the air. This cools the mixture as the fuel vaporises on its journey down the inlet port.

Fuel economy is an ongoing development area. In Formula One, an extra lap before pitting can mean the difference between a win and a loss. Evans says, “We measure fuel economy on a gravimetric basis – that is the weight of fuel used for a certain distance, rather than volume. Shell's objective is to create a lighter fuel. For example, say a Formula One fuel tank holds 100litres. If the Shell V-Power race fuel we create weighs a kilogram or two less than a competitor using the same size tank, then we could potentially give Ferrari an added lap advantage.”


As the inlet valve opens, the fuel-air mixture flows through the inlet port, past the valve and into the cylinder. The mixture is then compressed as the piston rises up the cylinder. Near the top the compressed mixture is ignited, forcing the piston back down the cylinder and turning the crankshaft. Shell V-Power race fuel is designed to give Ferrari the following advantages:

1) Friction Modifier Technology is designed to target the piston rings, reducing friction and helping the engine turn more freely. The powerful cleansing agents help prevent power-robbing deposits from forming on inlet valves and injection systems, improving responsiveness. This all unlocks valuable energy and helps improve performance.

The third major advantage Shell V-Power race fuel is designed to give Ferrari is engine protection and reliability, essential in the age of the two-race engine lifespan. In this area Shell Helix motor oil works together with Shell V-Power race fuel to help provide comprehensive protection. Evans says, “Shell is very proud of the fact that we helped Ferrari reach its near legendary engine reliability record. By combining Shell V-Power race fuel with a suite of other Shell products, we create a complete package of care for Ferrari's engine.”

pistion1 piston2

2) The lightness of the fuel can help achieve better fuel economy and a potential lap advantage
3) Working together with a suite of other Shell products like Shell Helix motor oil, Shell V-Power race fuel is designed to give Ferrari increased engine protection and reliability

An integral part of the team, Shell analyses fuel and oil samples from the Ferrari Formula One race car in a dedicated mobile trackside laboratory at each Grand Prix, while providing support in Maranello and at Shell facilities globally. One of the main objectives of this activity is to develop technology that can be transferred to Shell road products. Together with Shell, Ferrari has taken 11 Drivers' and eight Constructors' World Championship titles.

Shell Formula One Fuels Development Project Leader Mike Evans at the Shell Global Solutions facility in Chester, UK
Shell's technical partnership with Ferrari is designed to transfer technology from racing to the road, ensuring that Shell road products like Shell V-Power fuel and Shell Helix lubricants benefit motorists at the pump.

shumakar2 shumakar

Shell V-Power Racing fuel contains 99 per cent of the same types of compounds as commercially available fuels like Shell V-Power for the road
Fuel is cooled before it is put into a race car. Cool fuel is ‘volumetrically efficient' (it takes up less space) so more can be added to the car in the same period of time during a pit stop. Cooler fuel also gives more power

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Every year, Shell blends 250,000 litres of Shell V-Power Racing fuel for the Ferrari Formula One race and test teams

Ferrari driver Felipe Massa takes to the track in the Shell-powered F2007

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Shell V-Power Racing fuel contains over 250 different components carefully blended for the perfect mix of power and response

Shell Trackside Analysts Mark Farley (left) and Ian Albiston (right) in the Shell Track Lab, a dedicated mobile laboratory which travels to Formula One races with Ferrari

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Up to 40 Shell technical personnel work on the Ferrari project, based in the UK, Germany, the Ferrari Factory in Maranello and at the track

A Shell V-Power Racing fuel sample taken from a Ferrari Formula One car at the Australian Grand Prix 2007. The fuel is then analysed in the Shell Track Lab where they can detect contamination in a fuel sample equivalent to finding a cup of sugar in Loch Ness

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Aerodynamics: The science of the winds

suctionIn the tough struggle for crucial seconds in Formula 1, aerodynamics play a fundamental role. The teams invest up to 20% of their total budget in the science of the winds, making their cars even faster with innovative aerodynamic designs.
Meticulous precision work is undertaken down to the last millimetre, according to the motto: races are won in the wind tunnel and lost on the track.

scienceofairflowA stroke of genius by Colin Chapman in 1972 showed the way ahead for Formula 1. The legendary designer and team boss equipped his Lotus 72 with a flat front end in the form of a closed wedge, and hid the bulky radiators in side panels. Thanks to these revolutionary aerodynamics, supported by a rear wing, Emerson Fittipaldi won the World Championship for Lotus.

The significance of aerodynamics can be seen primarily in the downforce. The search for greater downforce has become the driving factor behind entire Formula 1 teams. The shape of cars is grinded on the computer, in the wind tunnel and on the track, and the wings and wind deflectors are styled just as much as the diffuser on the rear underside of the car.

The aim of this precision work is to channel the airflows perfectly and so generate as much downforce as possible, which presses the car down onto the road and permits shorter braking distances and higher cornering speeds. Experts estimate 80% of the car’s grip is generated by the downforce and only 20% by the tyres.



But downforce is not everything: the recipe for true success is to find the best compromise between the greatest possible downforce and the lowest possible air resistance. There is no ideal set-up to suit every racetrack, so the true art of the designers is to get closer to the ideal than their competitors for every race. This is not an easy task, with 20 different possible settings for a rear wing and 100 possible settings for a front wing.

The aerodynamics are the most important factor in the design of a Formula 1 car. An air duct panel between the front wheel and the side panel, for instance, can add more speed than two or three extra horsepower. Only those teams with their own wind tunnel can keep up with the extremely fast development in this field. The engineers spend up to 15,000 hours every year at the wind tunnel, and each complex costs about 45 million euros.

Modern Formula 1 cars can withstand centrifugal forces of up to 4G without sliding off the track. The art of aerodynamics allows far higher cornering speeds than would be possible without downforce, and so not only ensures a better performance but also even more safety. As a rule of thumb, 35% of the total downforce is generated by the rear wing. However, as it also causes the greatest air resistance, it is the rear wing’s setting that is changed most from race to race.


For the Italian Grand Prix on the high-speed track in Monza with its long straights and fast corners, the teams use flat wings to gain the highest possible speeds. On city tracks like Monaco, or circuits with lots of narrow corners, wing elements with a steep setting help generate as much downforce as possible so the cars can drive through the corners faster. The front wings are responsible for 25% of the downforce – a value which can quickly be reduced to just 10% by air turbulence if the car is travelling directly behind another car. The remaining 40% of the downforce is provided by the diffuser on the vehicle underbody, a type of air accelerator whose tunnels and ducts lead the flowing air towards the rear so that it generates the strongest possible suction effect.

rearwingIn contrast to Formula 1, passenger cars tend to create lift at medium and relatively high speeds, because of their shape. As this relieves the load on the axle and reduces the driving stability – and therefore also the safety – developers aim to keep the lift as low as possible by creating minimal air resistance. “This takes a lot of detailed work in the millimetre range. It ranges from smoothing down the underbody to optimising the airflow through the wheels and even to working on integrated rear spoilers,” explains Dr. Christoph Lauterwasser from the Allianz Center for Technology. “That is the only way to achieve drag co-efficient values under 0.30 while at the same time minimising the lift on the rear axle. However, anyone travelling with a roof box or a bike carrier will completely undermine all that meticulous development work.”

In Formula 1, too, aerodynamics will always remain one of the most important factors in spite of all the changes to the regulations. The developers are a long way from exhausting all the possible options, so in the future, losing a hundredth of a second will still be a real drag.

Mark Webber:“Monza is the last real high-speed track in Formula 1. The wings are set flatter than on any other circuit. That means the car is very difficult to control when you are cornering or braking before a corner. Driving flat out 70% of the time doesn’t only push the engines to the limit: it’s a really hot race – in the truest sense of the word – for the brakes too. But because Formula 1 uses only state-of-the-art materials, the safety of the drivers and the spectators is guaranteed in spite of these extreme material loads.”

Thanks and acknowledgement: Allianz

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F1 V/s MotoGP technique
In 2006, Honda achieved the unique feat of victory in both Formula One and MotoGP. While Jenson Button won the Hungarian Grand Prix at the wheel of the Honda RA106, Nicky Hayden rode the Repsol Honda RC211V to world championship glory. At first glance the two machines are very different. The car, dressed in white, is a mass of scoops and wings. The ’bike, wearing navy, orange and red war paint, is much smaller and has a brutal simplicity. The laws of physics dictate that while the lightweight ’bike is more accelerative, the four-wheeled car has more grip and will be faster over a single lap.


Those in the know are therefore less interested in the ultimate lap times than in how the techniques compare. They ask what it takes to wring the optimal lap time from both machines. Can the skills needed to ride a MotoGP ’bike at the limit really be compared with those required to drive a contemporary Formula One car at the edge of adhesion?

To find out, we sat down with Button and Hayden in London’s Royal Albert Hall, where both men were attending the ‘New Honda Circles’ Convention for Honda associates. With the help of a telemetry trace of both machines from the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, we talked techniques with two of the greatest exponents of their art.

blankroadHelped by a superior power to weight ratio – around 1600bhp/tonne for the RC211V versus 1250bhp/tonne for the RA106 – the bike is significantly faster in a straight line. Despite a slower corner exit speed, Hayden is travelling faster than Button by the end of Barcelona’s main straight. “The speed of the bike is outrageous,” says Button, looking slightly incredulous.

Both machines benefit from traction control, which reduces wheelspin and helps turn the engine’s output into forward momentum. “Traction control has only really become an issue in the past couple of years,” says Hayden. “Over one lap it doesn’t make much difference, but over a race distance it’s made a big impact. Tyre wear is reduced and you have more wheelie control. The front wheel still lifts, but it’s not nearly as bad as before.”

desolTraction control has been part of an F1 car’s repertoire for many years, but Button remains something of a purist. “I’ve tuned the traction control so that my throttle still works like a throttle,” he says. “The more throttle I apply, the more wheelspin I get. I hate just coming out of the corner and jumping on the throttle. I prefer to have more of a feel for the car.”

Button has developed an enviable reputation as one of the world’s smoothest drivers. Put simply, he lets the car do the work and while it might not always look quick, the stopwatch never lies. His ability to finesse a Formula One car is of particular benefit under braking.

blank2The braking performance of the RA106 is nothing less than extraordinary – it will stop from 200mph to 0 in just 5sec. “You have to hit the brakes very hard initially,” says Button,” “There’s so much downforce – about 5.5g – that your head is pushed forwards. The most difficult part is controlling the middle and the end of the braking. You must try to keep the car balanced and not lock the wheels. With 5.5g of loading, you can lock the wheels very easily.”

Hayden’s technique owes something to his early career, which was spent racing dirt bikes in Kentucky, USA. “In the braking zone, the rear of the bike goes quite light and around 90% of the braking is done by the front wheel,” he explains. “Some riders don’t even use their rear brake, but I come from a dirt bike background where you only had a rear brake. I use it to balance the bike and stop the wheelie.”

partytime Heavy braking will be accompanied by a succession of downshifts. In a Formula One car, this has been made easy by the development of semi-automatic gearboxes – all Button has to do is to flick a paddle with his left hand. “It’s so easy now that you don’t really think about it,” he says.

On a bike, though, it’s different. “Our downshifting is really important,” says Hayden. “From third to second gear, we have to let out the clutch and manually match the rpm [an old fashioned double declutch technique]. You get the gear, let the clutch out and then try to keep the bike in line.” His laid back demeanour makes it all sound very easy, but the challenge of affecting a downshift at 200mph when you’re inches away from another rider should not be underestimated.

searchingHonda legend Mick Doohan was renowned for his spectacular riding style, but developments in tyre technology have made an overly aggressive style counter-productive. Like Button, Hayden concentrates on being smooth and precise. “A big slide looks good but it’s not the fast way to ride,” reckons Hayden. “A slide is evidence of a mistake. You’ll only deliberately provoke a slide if you’ve gone in too hot and you want to get to the apex without running wide.”

We study the telemetry for turn 4 at Barcelona, a medium speed right-hander. Both rider and driver brake deep into the corner. “I trail brake to the apex of the corner, then I’ll apply the power,” says Hayden.

By contrast, Button uses the car’s natural oversteer to initiate the turn. “Normally you get a bit of oversteer [rear-end slip] on turn-in,” he says. “Then you balance the car using the throttle and the brakes at the same time.”

careButton is 26 seconds faster around the Barcelona circuit than Hayden and there are two main reasons for this – the tyres and the aerodynamics. No manufacturer has ever found a way of creating downforce on a motorbike. There are too many variables – the rider is not just the controller; he is also a significant part of the mass and he’s constantly on the move. A MotoGP bike weighs 152kg, while Hayden tips the scales at 69kg. When MotoGP teams employ a wind tunnel, they concentrate on reducing drag, not creating downforce.

The rider must therefore seek to optimise the mechanical grip from the tyres by shifting his mass. “People tend to exaggerate the extent to which we lean the bike in a corner,” says Hayden. “You lean your body to go around a corner, but you must keep the bike as upright as possible. The exit to a corner is all about trying to get the bike stood up and on the fat part of the tyre as quickly as possible.”

reposalBy contrast, the wind tunnel at the Honda Racing F1 Team’s headquarters in Brackley, England, is engaged 24/7 in the pursuit of downforce. This pushes the car onto the track and allows it to corner at a much higher velocity. While the bike generates a maximum cornering force of around 1.8g, the car achieves up to 4.5g. That’s why F1 drivers have incredibly strong neck muscles and why newcomers to the sport sometimes struggle with the physical challenges.

The technique required to corner a car quickly has been further complicated by the introduction of grooved tyres, which do not enjoy lateral loads. “The back-end moves a little bit all the way through turn 4,” says Button, pointing at the telemetry. “If you use too much throttle, the traction control cuts in and you lose lots of speed, but it you don’t use enough, you get understeer.”

repFinding the perfect balance is no easy task. “The cars are so narrow and we corner so quickly that if the car gets seriously out of shape, it just snaps. You drive a modern F1 car like a go-kart; it’s all about minimal steering inputs and keeping the speed.”

Both men are constantly pushing the limits of themselves and their machines. In such a high pressure environment, mistakes will inevitably be made and crashing is an occupational hazard that both men must accept.

Does Hayden ever worry about the danger? “You pick your poison. I don’t like the idea of feeling trapped in a car. There is definitely a bit of an art to falling off. You learn not to stick your arms out, or to try to get up while you’re still moving.”


“I told you he’d say that,” says Button, gesturing across the table. “I’m the opposite: I feel so much safer strapped into a car than being thrown off a motorbike. In a car, the injuries are different – the biggest risk is concussion from the g-forces. When I crashed at Monaco in 2003, I had an impact of 33-34g. I was unconscious but apart from a bit of bruising, I was otherwise unhurt.”

Former MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi’s tests for Ferrari this year raised the prospect of a rider ‘crossing the floor’, just as John Surtees did when he won both world championships with Honda in the 1950’s and ’60’s. But while Hayden would “love a crack at an F1 car,” neither man is in any doubt about where their strengths lie.

playing“I’ve spent 18 years racing and you can’t just jump into another form of motor sport and win,” says Button. “It was very different when John Surtees was racing because the cars were simple and mechanical. In recent years, the technology of the cars and bikes has moved in completely different directions.” In today’s world, the techniques are just too different.

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Formula 1 history – In Brief

The start
The Formula 1 World Championship started in 1950 with the first race being held at Silverstone, Great Britain.

Point system
The first points system was 8-6-4-3-2 points being awarded to the top five drivers, with an extra point for the driver with the fastest lap time. Drivers were allowed to share cars with the points being divided accordingly. Only the best four results counted towards the world championship standings.

In 1954 the points system was changed, the best five results in a year counted towards the championship standings.

In 1960 the extra point for the fastest lap was removed.\

In 1961 the points changed 9-6-4-3-2 -1 for the first six finishers.

The points system continuously changed up to 1984 when it stabilised at the best 11 results out of the 16 races.

In 1991 all restrictions were removed and the points from all 16 races counted.

The current point system is 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 for the first 8 finishers.

Race Length
From 1950 on the length of the race was 300Km or 3 hours.
In 1958 it was ruled that the race length was changed to 300 and 500 Km with a maximum race length of two hours.

The cars
At the start of the F1 championship the cars could have engines up to 4500cc normally aspirated, or 1500cc supercharged.

In 1952/53, world championship races were held with Formula 2 style cars due to the insufficient number of Formula 1 cars . Engines were 2000cc normally aspirated or 500cc supercharged

1954 saw the re-introduction of Formula 1 cars. The maximum engine sizes were now 2500cc normally aspirated or 750cc supercharged.

In 1958 it was ruled that drivers could no longer share cars in a race.

In 1961 a minimum dry weight for the car was introduced, and body work restrictions stopped enclosed wheels.

The maximum engine size changed in 1966 to 3000cc normally aspirated or 1500cc supercharged.

In 1972 the restriction of a maximum of 12 cylinders per engine was introduced.

In 1983 aerodynamic changes were imposed mandating a flat underside to the car.

In 1986 the engines specification changed again to a maximum of 1500cc supercharged or turbocharged with no other restrictions.

A a maximum of 3500cc normally aspirated only was introduced in 1989, bringing an end to the 'turbo period'.

1994 saw the next set of changed after Ayrton Senna's death. More aerodynamic restrictions were imposed and the airbox was revised in an attempt to reduce engine power. A 10cm stepped flat bottom was also introduced to slow down the cars.

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Careers in Formula 1
Haven’t we all at one time or the other wished to work with a Formula 1 team? Let’s be honest, even we at F1Scarlet have dreamt and spent endless hours talking about “how great it would be to be a part of a Formula 1 Team.” Discussions have started from becoming a racing driver (yeah, right..!!) to even compromising on becoming a Race Marshall (remember, the guys who wave the flags on the track).

But where do you look for these opportunities and how do you know what it takes to be part of the Formula 1 bandwagon?

F1Scarlet has put together some job descriptions, with roles and responsibilities that one can pursue in F1. Please note that this is for information and direction only. If you wish to apply to a Formula 1 Team, please respond to the advertised vacancies on respective Formula 1 Teams’ website
So what if we couldn’t make it. At least, we’ll be glad that one of you broke through the barriers. And hey, don’t forget us after you have landed a gig for yourself in Formula 1. Do write back once in a while. Our team would be glad to hear from you.

Our Special Thanks to Team Jordan for the information

"How do I get a job in Formula One?"

The answer is different in every case, and in the end it often comes down to a combination of skill, determination and luck! This guide is intended to give aspiring youngsters and motor sport professionals an idea of the kind of jobs, which exist in Formula One, and the qualifications and experience that will improve your chances of getting a foot in the door.

While prior experience in motor racing is not essential for every role, it is a great advantage and often required, so the best advice for anyone wanting to move into Formula One is to get some experience working in lesser formulae and motor sport series.

  • Aerodynamicist
  • Aerodynamics Design Engineer
  • Chief Designer
  • Control Systems Engineer
  • Data Engineer
  • Design Engineer
  • Drawing Office Manager
  • Electrician
  • Electronics Engineer
  • Electronics Technician
  • Factory Manager
  • FEA Engineer
  • Finance Department
  • Head of Model Design
  • Press Officer
  • Race / Test Team Mechanic
  • Software Engineer
  • Sponsorship Manager
  • Sterolithography Operator (SLA)
  • Storeman
  • Sub-Assembly Manager
  • Technical Director
  • Race Engineer
  • Truckie
  • Vehicle Dynamicist
  • Wind Tunnel Manager
  • Wind Tunnel Operator

An important role to car performance and winning ability, the aerodynamicist designs initial concepts for testing components in the wind tunnel and monitors and analyses test results. Minimum qualification requirements would be a degree in engineering at a top university and a PhD in Aerodynamics is preferable. Candidates must have a flair for computer software and knowledge of CFD as well as commitment and the ability to work in a close team. Previous experience in Formula One is preferable, however, having worked within one of the lower Formula’s ie. F3000, F3, etc would be the minimum career starting point. Career progression usually starts with Junior Aerodynamicist and then progression to Aerodynamicist.

Aerodynamics Design Engineer
The main duty of an aerodynamics design engineer is the development of wind tunnel test components working from initial design concepts produced by the aerodynamicists. Additionally, the engineer must possess the ability to work within the team environment to develop and enhance the mechanical systems / testing capability of the wind tunnel model.

The minimum qualification requirement is a mechanical / aeronautical HND, however, a degree is preferable.

Previous experience is not essential, however an interest in motor sport would be desirable and previous motor sport experience is preferred.

Chief Designer
The Chief Designer reports to the Technical Director and is primarily responsible for the day-to-day detailed drawings of the car.

The Chief Designer manages the procedures to achieve the technical objectives set by the Technical Director. He/she also manages the following departments through the design and development stages:
> Mechanical design
> Composite design
> Finite Element Analysis

Control Systems Engineer

A Control Systems Engineer’s main role is to support the electronics control systems on the car whilst it is being raced or tested.

A Control Systems Engineer will also be involved in:
> Development of the control strategies used on the car
> Software tools used by the team
> Specific software developments for in-house projects

Another major task is to carry out fault finding. In order to complete this effectively, a Control Systems Engineer will familiarise themselves with the specifications of the sensors, harnesses and electronic units fitted to the car.

The position of Control Systems Engineer is a travelling position and he/she will be expected to attend races and/or tests as required by the team.

Data Engineer
The data engineer works alongside the race engineer during racing and testing extracting and preparing data from the car. The data and race engineer then work together analysing the data and drawing conclusions leading to suggestions for car set-up changes.

Other duties a data engineer will perform are:
> Operating and updating analysis software
> Developing new analysis tools Running and developing simulation software
> Reporting back to the factory on issues regarding the data system
> Setting-up and maintaining the garage computer network

The qualifications necessary for this position are a B.Sc. in mechanical engineering, preferably vehicle dynamics or automotive engineering. An MSc or PhD in automotive engineering or vehicle dynamics would also be desirable.

The normal career route for a data engineer would be to progress to a race/test engineer for a few years, moving onto the position of Chief Engineer.

Design Engineer
Working in the Drawing Office reporting directly to the Chief Designer and ultimately the Technical Director of the company, a design engineer works on the present and future designs for the car. This can be either in the Mechanical or Composite design area.
Composite Design encompasses:
> Chassis design
> Driver fit
> Fuel volume
> Strength and stiffness etc.
> Wing structures Crash structures
> Suspension members
> Bodywork

Mechanical Design encompasses:
> Suspension
> Transmission
> Gearbox
> Driveline
> Engine Installation
> Water system
> Oil system
> Fuel system
> Hydraulic system
> Finite element analysis

For both these positions recommended qualifications are A-levels in Maths, Physics and Engineering, an engineering degree from a top ranked university, and although not essential a PhD can be an advantage.

Experience is desirable, preferably within Formula One, but a starting point would be working within one of the lower Formula’s i.e. F3000, F3 etc. A flair for computing is essential, as is the ability to work long anti-social hours within a close team.

Drawing Office Manager
The Manager of the Drawing Office is responsible for the successful day-to-day running of the Drawing Office. He/she must ensure that all proposed ideas are followed through to perfection. This job also involves the organisation of the office and ensuring the work produced is as accurate as possible. The Manager of the Drawing Office must work closely with the design engineers ensuring that the designers’ intentions are met.

There are no specific qualifications required for this position, however, a minimum of a degree level qualification will be sought.
As with many of the jobs in Formula One, a sound experience base is required which is best gained by progression through the motor sport ranks.

An Electrician will be present at races and tests to support the electrical systems on the car and provide assistance to the Control Systems Engineers to identify the source of any fault in the electrical/electronic system. It is the responsibility of the electrician to affect any necessary repair to the electrical system or provide replacement parts.

Whilst at the factory an Electrician will also be involved in the manufacture of electrical system components, i.e. harnesses, sensors etc. Experience in motor racing is essential.

Electronics Engineer
Formula One, being at the forefront of motor racing, involves hi-tech electronics, therefore an Electronics Engineer has a challenging and varied job. Included in this are the following:
> Electronic design and development from:
- specification
- detailed hardware design and simulation
- component selection and procurement
- schematic capture and PCB layout
- assembly drawings
- test procedures
- commissioning.

> Embedded software development
> Electronic system / sensor / component selection and evaluation
> Development of in-house quality control / inspection / test procedures
> Harness design
> Hands-on assembly / test / calibration / fault-finding

Minimum qualification requirement is a degree in Electronics Engineering or related discipline (with Honours preferred).

Experience does not necessarily need to be in Formula One but 2 to 3 years experience in motorsport / military or automotive fields is preferred.

Electronics Technician
The Electronics Technician is involved in assembling, testing and documenting design and development work within the Electronics Department. Duties include:
> Electronics assembly / rework / inspection / calibration and test
> Termination and calibration of sensors
>Harness prototyping, manufacture, inspection and test

Component test, servicing and fault-finding
> Electro-mechanical rig manufacture
> Development of in-house quality control procedures
> Documentation of all work undertaken in accordance with departmental procedures
> Assist travelling technicians with support of the race / test car build
> Provide cover for travelling technicians as and when required

Minimum qualification requirements are a City & Guilds Level 3 or HNC in Electronics Servicing or related discipline.
Two or three years experience in the motor sport or military fields is preferred.

Factory Manager
Responsible for the running of the factory and anything that is factory based. These duties may include
> Organisation of site services
> The sub-assembly department
> Inspection areas
> Fabrication area
> Machinery departments
> The stores and purchasing of materials for the company
> Composites department

Factory Manager should be qualified in a range of subjects including project management, corporate management, information technology, quality management and production and material control. Qualifications in personnel and systems management would be advantageous for such a position plus experience of management role in a manufacturing environment.

FEA Engineer
An FEA Engineer undertakes FEA and hand calculations (mathematical modelling) to assess structural integrity and stiffness of components in either composites or metals, which is very important in a Formula One racing car. This could include testing in order to verify results.

The minimum qualification requirement for this position is a degree in Engineering or an equivalent engineering qualification. It would also be beneficial to have high grades in Maths and Physics qualifications.

A number of years’ experience in a general design / stress office using FEA/calculations would be preferable and Formula One experience is desirable but not mandatory.

Finance Department

The financial controller is responsible for two overlapping aspects of the company - legal issues and financial management. On a day-to-day basis his duties include:
> Checking the accuracy of the company’s accounts
> Checking that the accounts area reflecting the company’s activity
> Responsibility for personnel
> Supervising the running of sponsorship investments
> Confirming financial decisions of the team

A degree in law would be beneficial, as would a background of working in a legal or accounting environment. Necessary skills include financial management, computing, legal know-how and a good understanding of the world of international business. The financial controller would be assisted by accountants and financial assistants, positions for which accountancy qualifications and/or previous experience in finance (and preferably motor sport) are important.

Head of Model Design
The Head of Model Design is responsible for all aspects of wind tunnel design, manufacture and assembly. He/she is also responsible for maintaining and advancing standards in these areas. The major responsibility for the Head of Model Design is maintaining a full 3D assembly and sub-assemblies of the complete model.

The Head of Model Design will liaise with the full size design department in all aspects of body design and will be responsible for ensuring that the correct full size tolerances are applied to both model and aerodynamic design.

Additional responsibilities which the Head of Model Design must fulfill:
> Attending model tests
> Ensuring the ease of use and construction of the model during these tests
> To be fully trained in the use and running of the wind tunnel
> Ensuring that all items drawn in the Aerodynamics department can be

Relevant experience is essential

Press Officer
Specifics will vary from team to team, but generally speaking the Press Officer is responsible for all media liaison for the team. This is likely to include:
> Writing and distributing press information and circulating photos
> Writing and distributing press releases
> Co-ordinating interviews with drivers and team personnel
> Co-ordinating photographic shoots
> Working proactively to produce stories and photo opportunities for the team and its sponsors organising
> Press functions

The Press Officer will be expected to be at all Grands Prix and anywhere that there is likely to be a press presence to liaise between the media, the drivers and team personnel.

A good general education will be required for this position, to ‘A’ level standard or above. There is a fair amount of writing involved in the job so word processing and English language skills are important. Other languages, French, Italian, German, are often looked upon favourably as well. The majority of the work centres around the media so journalistic or PR qualifications would be valuable and a number of years' PR experience is fundamental. An in-depth knowledge of motorsport is not essential, although an interest in racing is obviously important. Personal qualities should include an ability to communicate and work with people, diplomacy, excellent organisational skills, ability to work under pressure and to deadlines and loads of common sense.

Race / Test Team Mechanic
Mechanics must have motor racing experience from lower formulae (Rally, touring cars, F3 and F3000 are the main four). The role is not necessarily about the qualifications, however an apprenticeship as a mechanic would be good grounding on which to base a Formula One career.

Software Engineer
The primary role of a Software Engineer is to develop the software for all the control systems on a Formula One racing car.

The Software Engineer may also be responsible for the development of any software tools used by the team.

A Software Engineer will be expected to attend some races and tests as he/she may at times take responsibility for running the control systems on the car.

Sponsorship Manager
Sponsorship Managers are responsible for any matters that relate to the sponsors and marketing aspects of the company.

Although there is no set qualification, a degree in a business subject would be favoured. A qualification in sponsorship management would give a distinct advantage, however experience in sponsorship management or commercial negotiations and marketing is most relevant.

Sterolithography Operator (SLA)
As rapid prototype production is becoming increasingly popular within Formula One, so is the need for skilled personnel. One type of rapid prototype production is Sterolithography.
An SLA Operator’s main duties are as follows:
> Preparing the model and full size stl files for building
> Operating the SLA machine(s)
> Cleaning finished builds for post curing
> Managing the overall production of the prototype parts to strict deadlines

SLA Operator should be trained as a model maker before moving into rapid prototype production.
Computer literacy is essential for this position and experience with 3D systems and using Magics and Lightyear would also be an advantage. A probable path for career advancement would be moving to and adapting fairly easily to other forms of rapid prototype production.

This role is fundamental to the smooth running of the team, as teams may carry the equivalent of three spare cars in part form to races and test so that three spare cars could be built at the track if necessary. The storeman is responsible for ensuring that all parts are correctly organised and transported, and typically comes from a factory stores background.

No specific qualifications are necessary, but stores experience is a key requirement, as is the ability to get along with people and strong organisational skills.

Sub-Assembly Manager
The Sub-Assembly Manager is responsible for the team working in Sub-Assembly, where gearboxes, uprights and steering racks are produced. The manager must ensure that all the parts for the car are made both correctly and on time. The Sub-Assembly manager has a team of about eight workers within his team.

A City and Guilds or an HNC in Mechanical Engineering would be looked upon favourably for a job in this department. Another good start would be an apprenticeship, which would be good experience for the future.

As with many jobs in Formula One, there are no specific routes into this position, and beginning work in a lower series of racing would be the best option. There is then the chance to work your way up through the stages, gaining widespread experience as you progress.

Technical Director
The Technical Director is responsible for all technical aspects within the Company. These include car performance, car design and production.

The Technical Director with assistance from the Chief Designer sets the short, medium and long-term technical objectives for the Company. He/she also puts the necessary procedures in place to achieve these goals.

The Technical Director attends all races and tests to oversee and assist with any technical issues that arise before, during and after the running of the car(s).

Extensive experience in motor racing and Formula One is essential, and a relevant degree qualification is usually required.

Race Engineer
Becoming a race engineer is a popular dream for many who aspire to work in Formula One, as race engineers are seen as being completely involved in almost every aspect of F1 racing. In reality this position is one of the most demanding, due to the hours worked and the amount of time spent travelling.

A race engineer oversees the operation of the race car before and during the race and test events, both at the circuit and the factory. He/she must be in a position to make set-up decisions based on driver feedback and chassis sensor data to achieve the set-up or ‘balance’ required by the driver.

It is very important that the engineer and driver share a close working relationship. Driver psychology is one of the most important aspects of race engineering as it helps ensure an understanding of how to maximise the performance of both the car and driver.

A good degree in mechanical, automotive or aeronautical engineering is essential as a race engineer encounters many aspects of engineering. An understanding of vehicle and aerodynamics are very important as is design and computer programming. Further qualifications such as a PhD or masters degree would be useful.

Experience within the motor racing industry in Formula One of lower formulae is essential and computer literacy is very important as software is playing a bigger and bigger part in predicting and analysing car set-up and performance.

Entering race engineering requires a lot of hard work, and basing a degree around a career in motor racing (having a final year project linked to motor racing) would be a good start. Working in lesser formulae is a good way of getting experience at the circuit and will stand out on a CV.

The nature of race engineering means that it is important to have a fall back position, as race engineering is not practical to have as a long-term position. Therefore, experience in mechanical design or aerodynamics would be of great benefit for career opportunities after being a race engineer.

Formula One truckies must have similar qualifications and experience to mechanics, as well as HGV licenses. Prior experience in Formula One, or at the very least a lower formula is essential as truckies are responsible for a variety of technical and mechanical functions with set-up and execution at a race or test.

Vehicle Dynamicist
The role of a Vehicle Dynamicist is an important one as he/she develops models and simulations to help understand the important static and dynamics of a racing car. His/her other responsibilities also include:
> Developing hardware and software to validate models/simulations
> Utilising models/simulations to improve and develop the race car
> Developing analysis techniques for on car data acquisition systems
> Designing and developing test rigs to measure various aspects of the car

Experience in vehicle dynamics is required, but specifics are dependent on the job vacancy concerned. Motorsport experience, preferably within Formula One, is desirable but not essential. A good engineering based honours degree (at least a 2:1) is essential.

The normal progression from this role is to complete some years as a Data Engineer as this is now the preferred route to becoming a Race Engineer.

Wind Tunnel Manager
The Wind Tunnel is the day-to-day focus of work for many Formula 1 teams. As aerodynamic development is crucial to the car’s performance, it is important that the facility and its staff are kept at the cutting edge of technology and perform to the best of their ability; this is the responsibility of the Wind Tunnel Manager. Furthermore, projects instigated and planned by him/her determine how good the team will be for years to come.

A Wind Tunnel Manager needs a good background in fluids and engineering, typically from a degree or higher in aeronautical engineering. A mix of theoretical and practical disciplines is ideal for a blend of understanding and experience necessary for the position.

Tunnel Manager should have a Physics degree, an Aerodynamics MSc and worked for 5 years in industry before moving into motor racing.

Wind Tunnel Operator
A Wind Tunnel Operator’s main duty is to run and maintain the wind tunnel, and work on wind tunnel development projects.

The minimum qualification required for this position is an HND in Engineering or an equivalent engineering qualification. It would also be beneficial to have high grades in Maths, Physics and English qualifications.

Experience in either mechanical or electrical design is desirable, but previous wind tunnel operating experience is essential. Previous use of wind tunnel data acquisition software would be an added advantage.

A Wind Tunnel Operator could progress to Wind Tunnel Technician or Model Maker.

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