Sometimes the level of engineering in F1 is best described by the smaller simpler parts, an example of this is the humble suspension mounting. This part being the point where the wishbone meets the gearbox to allow the suspension arm to pivot around it spherical bearing. This example is a 2012 Sauber C31 rear wishbone mounting clevis, but is typical of several similar clevises in my collection of F1 parts, albeit they appear to get a little more sophisticated in shape each year.
As F1 shifted from push rod rear suspension to pull rod, the packaging of the various compliant elements pivoting on it became more complex too. Here we can analyse in depth the lower section of a Sauber C30-C31 rear pull rod rocker from 2011-2012. This part pivots in a subframe mounted inside the gearbox, to operate the side springs\dampers, heave spring\dampers and anti roll bar.
Set up sheets have always fascinated me, they are the document used to list the hardware and set up to be used on a racecar, before its dispatched from the factory. My latest acquisition has been three Arrows set up sheets from 1997, covering three separate tests with three different drivers at two different tracks within the space of four months. It gives us insight what is included in the set up sheet, the actual set up differences and provides of a story of the team’s year.
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.
This 2014 Caterham front upright shows some of the key design features of F1 uprights, although as you can see it is both a 3D printed mock up part and also part of a pull rod front suspension set up. F1 Uprights are the part that completes the front suspension geometry, connecting the axle to the wishbones, whilst also providing mounting points for the brake caliper, pull rod and steering track rod.
Toro Rosso have released a youtube video of a complete factory tour. Both informative and in depth, the video shows us some detail of the car we do not usually get to see.
Whenever an F1 car runs on track, the team will have planned what parts are fitted and the set up of every facet of the car. Now over a year and a half old and with an even older car, this set up sheet appeared on the Lotus Media site. It was from Kimi Raikkonen’s debut test at Jerez for the team in a R30 (from 2011). It shows some of the set up detail that the teams go into. This also gives us some insight into the spring\damper configuration modern F1 cars run.
For many years the shape and position of the cars suspension elements have been an important factor in the cars aerodynamics. For 2013, almost every team have taken the same approach pioneered by Red Bull in 2012, by raising the rear lower wishbone. In doing this the teams have also oversized the wishbone’s cross section to enclose the driveshaft. It transpires that there are two gains from this practice, primarily improving flow over the diffuser and secondarily reducing the aerodynamic effect of the spinning driveshaft.
With far reaching regulation changes coming onto the sport in 2014, the 2013 season is likely to be a year of consolidation, as few changes have been are written into this year’s rule book. So teams will be expected to optimise their designs from last year, correcting mistakes and adopting some of the better ideas of their rivals.
Some rules will have a small effect of car design and some trends from last year will be more common place. Unusually there have been few leaks or well-founded rumours circulating in the off season. This is probably as teams are expending a huge amount of resources in finding big gains for just one year’s competition, instead focussing on plans for 2014.
With the shift toward pull rod rear suspension, the teams’ mechanics are faced with a maintenance issue. As the pull rod reaches down into the gearbox casing, access to the transmission is hindered by the inboard suspension inside the gear casing. Most teams maintain their transmission by first having to remove parts of the inboard suspension. However the Ferrari engined teams have each found a neater solution to this problem. Sauber use the Ferrari gearbox and also follow a similar practice of using a separate module to mount the entire inboard suspension in between the engine and gearbox.