Having tested at Duxford at the start of May, Force India returned to the aircraft museum and ex-WW2 airfield for another straight line test, after the Canadian GP. Being the run up to the British GP and the summer run of European ‘handling’ circuits, the test appeared to be about, gathering aero data on the cars usual aero set up, rather than a trial of major new parts. This approach has been the way FIF1 have gone about the business for the past year. Gaining speed and consistency form fully understanding their package, rather than throwing lots of new parts at it.
Date: 19th June 2013-06-25
Location: Imperial War Museum, Duxford, UK ()
Conditions: 24c, 60% humidity , no wind, clouded skies.
The test is allowed as part of the Resource restriction Agreement, where a limited number of days full-scale testing are allowed. These being either the full car in the wind tunnel or at a straight line (constant radius) facility. As Duxford has a 1.5km long air strip, its only used for straight line passes, as opposed to places such as Idiada in Spain, that allow constant radius runs to be completed.
A run typically consisted of the car exiting the marquee\garage on the speed limiter in first gear along the taxi way before accelerating (sometimes with wheelspin) up to 5th gear, then staying at relatively low RPM in fifth along straight, providing some 20s of stable straight running. This top speed would be managed by the cars ECU. In testing a ‘cruise control’ system can be set up, the driver will select this from a steering wheel button. Once at peak speed the car is not loud at all, in fact akin to a 4-cyl motorbike revving hard along the motorway. It would be hard to accurately guess the top speed on each pass, but it’s likely to match the wind tunnel speed of around 48m\s, thus about 107mph.
Youtube clip of FIF1′s previous test (via c123987xx)
Ending each pass the car brakes and downshifts to turn around in 1st gear, before accelerating to fifth for another pass. Typically there were 4 passes in a run, then back on the limiter to the marquee to park for 15mins before another run. Some runs ended with a ‘coast down’ run putting the car into neutral and silently slowing, before braking to return to the pits (always at the end of the session.
The car as rigged up with a tall pitot sensor atop the roll hoop, which more accurately detects air speed (road speed +/- wind speed) and will have been rigged up with more aero pressure sensors and the hydraulically adjustable suspension that alters ride height through a run. Flow-viz was run on an early pass, but was not a large part of the days testing.
At the test the team appeared to be aero mapping, testing different front and rear wing settings, no obvious developments were on the car. The wings and the sidepod bodywork were still marked up with the Canadian GP 100FIF1 race livery. Although the exhaust panel appeared to be a different spec as it did not line up accurately, but the overall shape of this panel appeared the same in concept to that run previously. Two nose specifications were tried, three nose boxes were at outside the marquee, the usual chinned nose and the version without that was run in Canada. Additionally another chinned nose was being worked on, having its paintwork touched up with masking tape and rattle cans, finally being dried with a heat gun. Inside the marquee there was a spare rear wing, again of outwardly similar appearance to the wing run on the car.
More on straight-line testing in my feature in Motorsport Monday
F1 Testing at IWM Duxford
Only a limited number of straight line tests are allowed at IWM, Duxford. Although other facilities are used through out Europe, Duxford is the only place where the public can spectate at one of these sessions. Admission is via the normal Museum entry of around £17.95, while the team will run from 9am, the Museum opens at 10am and closes at the same time as the F1 car running at 6pm. This allows you to also see the aircraft and tanks on show, as well as the F1 test.
The next session booked at Duxford is Wednesday 28th August 2013. Teams do not normally announce their attendance and\or drivers for these events. Marussia and Caterham have both tested here in recent years, but it’s likely to be Force India testing at this next session.