F1 cars still carry batteries other than the ERS Energy Store, while the tech in the ERS is top secret and hi tech, there is lesser battery tech under the skin of the car. Two other batteries are hidden away fulfilling critical roles, although their tech and installation is far from the cutting edge seen in the energy store.
Despite a huge ERS battery sat in the car, there remains a conventional 12v battery to support the car’s systems when the motor isn’t running. Even pre-ERS this battery was a Li-Ion cell type tucked away within the sidepod. Typically, this is a motorsport specific Li-Ion type from a number of common suppliers (Varley, Braille), but this Marussia technical drawing shows how the unit is ‘dressed up’ to suit an F1 installation. The basic battery has a carbon moulding bonded over it, with a Military-style multi-pin motorsport connector to join it to the car’s electrical system. This carbon lid hides the permanent cabling connecting the battery terminals to the connector.
From your digital kitchen scales, toy remote controls and smoke alarms, the aged 9V cell with its clip on connectors is an unlikely F1 part, but every car carries one and is fundamental to the car and driver’s safety. Unseen, the 9v Cell is part of the car’s fire extinguisher system, fitted in case the electrical system fails to provide the system with enough energy to set off the extinguisher. The positive terminal connection and voltage of the humble 9v cell is ideal for this situation, so everyone can now say they have F1 technology in their house!
When looking at the installation of any Hybrid or Electric racing car, the bright orange cabling is a trademark feature, taking the high currents between the battery, inverter and eMotor. With light weight, reliability and rapid disassembly all factors in the cabling installation, the cable choice and the connector technology are critical and often unappreciated by the fans. I’ve recently purchased some Ex-F1 DC connectors\cables which give us some appreciation of the tech involved here. These are both Red Bull RB8 (2012) parts, taken from the DC (battery to inverter) bus. Rather than simply being big fat copper cables with two pin connectors, they are remarkably complex in their design.
During the F1 KERS era (2009-2013), Red Bull Racing adopted a unique battery set up. Rather than in a recess under the monocoque\fuel tank, the battery is split up into three separate units around the gearbox. I’ve explained the KERS installation in previous posts (LINK), but I’ve recently acquired a 3D printed mockup of one of the side mounted battery cases. This gives us some unique insight into the battery case’s dimensions and layout.
Mercedes AMG’s W06-Hybrid dominated the season this year. I’ve been lucky enough to get close to it and find out lots about its design and details. So I’ve put together a comprehensive ‘walk-around’ the car, from my camera phone pictures taking whilst being in the pit lane over race weekends.