Sauber C30 – Launch Detail and Analysis

Now simply known as Sauber Motorsport the Team are embarking on their second as a born-again independent. Their new car, the C30 has been completed under the technical leadership of Ex-Force India TD James Key. James bring his experience from the budget conscious FIF1 team and its forebears JordanMidlandSpyker.  Aiding key are two Long term Sauber staff, as Christoph Zimmerman as Chief Designer and Seamus Mullarkey leading the aero dept.

Development was held back last year as the team focussed its resources on the new car, which first hit the wing tunnel in May. This switch in resource was partly the reason the exhaust blown diffuser was not developed in 2010. Their new car sports just such a device, with an interesting twist. Otherwise the car is largely a logical evolution of the already quite advance concept of the C29. With Key having sorted the Ferrari engine installation problems and the cars ride height sensitivity which blighted the teams early season last year, Now the team can expect a strong run in the midfield for 2011.

A slightly higher and "V" sectioned nose for the C30

Sauber went the right direction with the front of the chassis last year. So this C30 doesn’t look too different in this regard. The front end is slightly higher, with eh slight “V” section, while the nose cone is slightly wider. Current the turning vanes and front wing are carried over from the C29, so we can expect Sauber to also adopt some more typical concepts for these parts, especially the turning vanes which currently differ to the conventional shaped vaned adopted by most teams. Also the philosophy of evolving the monocoque extends the roll structure, the roll hoop is now supported by four pylons, creating an exaggerated undercut for better airflow to the rear wing.

New roll hoop now supported by four pylons

Either side of the tub, the sidepods now sport a slightly squarer profile, the inlets being “U” shaped rather than triangular as they were last year. Yet this bulkier shape still allows for a huge undercut, leading back to a slimmed coke bottle shape, which now ends with a vertical slit to allow cooling air to escape early, and also allowed the exhaust to exit close the floor and the cars centreline. Also aiding cooling is the enlarged exit above the gearbox.  While the top body exhibits no form of shark fin. Routing hot air out through here, keeps the tail of the coke bottle shape slim, for greater airflow over the diffuser.

Cooling exit over the gearbox keeps the sidepods slimmer

In fact the diffuser is not quite as simple as the first pictures suggest and during the unveiling the diffuser was covered with a tarpaulin. However, I was able to look down onto the top of the diffuser. Sauber have kept the gearbox and sidepods so narrow that they have created a channel between the outer tunnels, which the exhaust blows through. This would work the centre section of diffuser, which is typical struggling for airflow, by the lower ride height of the step beneath the car.

Saubers EBD points the exhaust into a channel and partly through the starter hole (yellow)

Exhausts close the cars centreline blow into a channel in the middle of the diffuser


Blowing the gurney flap on the edge of the diffuser and starter hole aid downfroce

Above this the on-trend exposed beam wing has been created by shaping the crash structure within the rules to bend underneath the wing. Currently the beam wing is a simple straight slot-less affair. This could be made work harder in conjunction with the blown diffuser, by adding a longer section in the middle 15cm of the wing.

Exposed beam wing is a big trend this year

Another rear wing aid to the diffuser is the addition of a series of vanes hanging below the endplates. These sit within a legal loophole in the rules, and effectively make the diffuser longer than the rules envisaged.

These vanes on the RW endplate help flow out of the diffuser

The upper rear wing, is adjustable and this system is known with the technical F1 staff as the ‘Drag Reduction System’ DCS. Saubers is a elegant solution to making the flap hinge about its trailing edge. A simple metal lever moves to open the slot gap up, reducing drag and boosting top speed.

The Driver Adjustable Rear Wing is known as 'DCS' Drag Control System within the sport

Mechanically the car retains the Ferrari drive train. So again the car will sport the Ferrari gearbox, which is a hybrid Titanium and Carbon fibre construction. Therefore Sauber will adopt Ferrari KERS and their inboard rear suspension geometry. Technical Director James Keys explained the pushrod mountings, place the hardware at the very front of the gearbox, this keeps the parts accessible, but does not affect rear aerodynamic volume. Key also confirmed Sauber have designed and built the suspension that attaches to the Ferrari gear case, while the Hydraulics and Electronics are all Sauber designed too.

Sauber continue to use OZ Racing wheels with hollow spokes


Drivers brake bias adjuster


Splitter detail

Ferrari F150 – Launch detail & Analysis

Ferrari launched their F150 today in Maranello. While the car sports some interesting features, overall it must be seen as a conventional and literal approach to the new rules and carries the influence of the team’s two previous cars. This approach seems to suit Ferrari who has not worked well with extreme innovation in the past. They keep the car simple and gain the most potential from it. We can expect more extreme concept cars from several teams next week.

Firstly the front wing is last years; it even has the driver adjustable mechanism which is no longer allowed in 2011. However the nose cone will be fairly definitive, as it needs to match the front of the chassis and being a homologated part, cannot be structurally changed during the season. This front wing may be on the car for the opening test runs, but we will soon see an interim 2011 wing before a final version appears for Bahrain.
One by-product of the new rules restricting front chassis height is that a V-nose might not be desirable. As the height of the dash and front bulkheads are limited to a maximum height, the “V” nose might be inefficient. V-noses allowed more flow under the car without putting too much heavy structure high up. Now to maximise space under the nose we might see a return to the simpler rectangular chassis cross section, with the top edge at the 670mm limit, which creates the most space underneath. Thus the Ferrari has a near flat top and the line from the cockpit opening rises up 45mm from the dash to the front wheels.
The section of chassis attaching the suspension (subjectively) appears to longer.  Access hatches on the top of the chassis allow access to the pedals, heave spring and GPS aerial. Otherwise the front wishbone arrangement appears conventional, with the steering rack placed lower than the upper wishbone for better CofG and steering arm geometry.

Aero around the front end is largely carried over from 2010, with vanes hanging from the nose cone then larger bargeboards and pod wings mounted ahead of the sidepods. We can expect these to change in detail before Bahrain, Relatively simple mirrors are fitted and mated to a finvortex generator below. Similarly the roll hoop is a simple design, not as undercut as others. The sidepods themselves are an evolution of ideas from the past two years. The inlets have been made into a more distinct sideways “U” shape and the distinctive peak above the inlet is still there. This peak is now allied to a small removable panel, what this is for is not clear. As it appears the radiators are further back down the sidepod, following the same line as the break in the forward and rear section of sidepod bodywork. The panel might be for a cooling outlet, but perhaps for smaller oilKERS coolers mounted alone in this area. The revised sidepod inlet creates a more aggressive undercut, although the sidepod has to be relatively wide (between the Shell and Acer logo) for the radiators to fit between the fuel tank and bodywork.
Sidepods then sweep into a coke bottle shape with a generous hot air outlet at its tail, this rounded rear sectionalso hides the exhausts that blow over the diffuser. Rather than poking out of the end of the sidepods, the exhaust is slash cut to exit through the side of the bodywork.  Aldo Costa hinted that the Exhaust and Rear Wing are areas for development between now and Bahrain.  The top body no longer sports a shark fin; a simple upstand is used in its place, although no doubt the fin may return in testing. As was raced last year the bodywork either side of the fin opens up to allow cooling.

At the back the rear wing is a new departure for Ferrari, the entire wing is mounted to the central pylon, and then the beam wing spans the endplates and sits fully expose din the airflow. It’s been Ferrari practice to split the beam wing either side of the crash structure for many years. The top rear wing is new, with the mechanism to allow the wing to open the slot up apparently inside the wings supporting pylon. The curved bracket protruding from the pylon moves up and down, probably by hydraulics fed up from the gearbox, to alter the wings flap position. Its possible to see the how the flap pivots via pins set into the flap trailing edge. A distinct “V” has been cut into the flaps trailing edge, probably to reduce its effective geometry, as it sits in airflow obstructed by the engine cover and wing adjusting mechanism.
With very few detailed of the diffuser, it appears its a very simple diffuser which echoes the single decker design Ferrari first raced with in 2009. No doubt the gurney, inner fences and boat tail will alter as the team gets more performance from the diffuser.
Being careful not to read too much into the cars launch specification the front wheels appear to be based on the 2010 vaned versions. New rules specify a maximum surface area for spokes and other similar parts of the wheel. Perhaps the narrow spokes make up for the surface area taken up by the vanes.
One item raised by Ferrari was their innovative suspension system, not the pull rod system that many expected, as the car boasts push rods at both ends. But Ferrari were rumoured around the pit lane to have run an interconnected suspension system last year. The front and rear suspension being linked to control the cars attitude. This could either be to control pitch (the nose rising or lowering through acceleration/braking) or warp (a mix of pitch and roll). Apparently used by Toyota and Williams without success in the past, this passive system could aid aerodynamics by keeping the underfloor in the correct attitude relative the track. However the front and rear suspensions may be interlinked, the rear suspension is certainly well packaged. Without the large lumps in the rear bodywork, Ferrari have clearly designed the various rockers, dampers and springs into a much smaller space. They appear to be positioned close to the front of the gearbox, as there is a dead area above the clutch and gear cluster, that is usually unoccupied. this set up sees the pushrods reaching forwards to operate the rockers. Renault adopted this approach last year. This set up is eased by the deletion of the rear torsion bars, so Ferrari have probably followed the increasingly common route of no rear side springs, instead the rear is supported solely by the third spring in heave or the antiroll bar in roll.

As double diffusers are banned the advantage to inclining the engine and gearbox by 3-degrees is lost now, so we can expect the engine is again mounted horizontal. With engines frozen, the only changes are reliability alterations (with the FIA’s permission) or changes to accommodate KERS. Ferraris engine man Luca Marmorini announced more changes to the engines pneumatic valve system (PVRS). This area was changed after reliability problems last year in the early races. Marmorini, who came back to Ferrari from Toyota, is thought to have brought ideas for a more efficient PVRS system with him. Worth not only reliability, but a increase in performance through lower friction and less engine degradation over the course its 3-4 races. The KERS system places the MGU offset from the front of the crank and attached to the oil tank, as the unit is cooled by the engines oil. The oil tank is quite large and Ferrari are suggested to also run another tank above the clutch within the gearbox.
The KERS battery pack is mounted inside the monocoque under the fuel tank (not within the actual tank and petrol!). As the batteries are denser than fuel this keeps a low CofG, already most teams have several centimeters of space under the fuel taken up by blocks of ballast, rising the fuel tank by an equal amount. One area Ferrari were clear that they have improved KERS on this year is the way the MGU charges when the car brakes. Marmorini stated this was improving the “dragging” of the system.
Little word has been made on the gearbox, Ferrari have adopted a titanium skeleton with bonded on carbon fibre panels for several years. Aside from the packaging of the pushrod suspension, this is expected to be largely carried over this year.

2011 Winter Launch and Test Schedule

Team Engine Car Date Location
Red Bull Renault RB7 Feb 1st  Valencia
Ferrari Ferrari F150 Jan 28th Maranello 
McLaren Mercedes MP4-26  Feb 4th Berlin 
Mercedes Mercedes W02  Feb 1st Valencia 
Renault Renault R31 Monday 31st Jan (12.00 CET) Valencia 
Williams Cosworth FW33  Feb 1st Valencia 
Force India Mercedes VJM04  Not until Jerez test  
Sauber Ferrari C30 Monday 31st Jan (11.15 CET) Valencia
Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR6 Tuesday 1st Feb Valencia
Team Lotus Renault TL11  Monday 31st Jan (06.00 CET) Online 
Hispania Racing Team  Cosworth  F111  Current car in Valencia & interim car at Jerez & F111 in Bahrain  
Virgin Racing Cosworth MVR02 Feb 7th London  
Valencia February 1-3    Debut: Ferrari, Red bull, Renault, Mercedes, Sauber, Toro Rosso, Williams  
Jerez February 10-13    Debut: McLaren, Force India, Virgin  
Barcelona  February 18-21      
Bahrain  March 3-6      

Spring-Less Rear Suspension – A Quiet Revolution

In the latter part of the year suggestions were that teams were discarding the rear side springs to allow very soft rear ends.   This has proved to be the case, in the past few years teams have been removing their rear torsion bars to gain greater control of suspension set up.  This revolution has been quietly spreading as many teams have gone this route.

An early sign springs were being removed was  the I-Racing game, which accurately modeled the FW31 with the Williams teams assistance, the game provided no scope for rear springs.   Equally comments made by Anthony Davidson over the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend suggested that McLaren’s extreme stiff frontsoft rear was due to this set up. Leading to Buttons problems locking up the inside wheel under braking. Closer investigation with technical people close to the sport prove this to be case and the practice is widespread amongst several teams, already McLaren and Williams are highlighted as adopting this practice, but Toyota and red bull are sporting this set up, by virtue of their gearbox supply this suggests that force India and Toro Rosso have the option too. Although this seems to be a relevantly recent practice as most teams first designed this into the 2009 cars, albeit it may have been tested or raced before then.

Suspension on F1 cars has the joint purpose to control the cars attitude both for aerodynamics and tyre dynamics. These often contradictory requirements have lead to compromises, largely against tyre performance and more to the benefit of aero control. Aerodynamicists want the car to run flat (or raked) with little change in roll or ride height. For mechanical grip the car needs softer attitude control. This has lead F1 cars to run quite stiff front ends and softer rear ends, both in roll and heave. A soft rear ARB creates more mechanical grip, which then in turns needs to be controlled by a stiff front anti roll bar. For aerodynamics reasons the front wing and splitter like to be flat to the track surface to gain most downforce, thus this also tends to require a stiff anti roll bar.
At the extreme end of this set up characteristic this has been exhibited most clearly in McLarens handling. The car gains traction from the soft rear anti roll bar, but the stiff front roll bar means that the rear heavy car tends to roll at the rear and this picks up the inside front wheel going into turns.
On a side point although McLaren run what has been called a stiff front axle, their apparent problem with grip over bumps going into turns is not necessarily a reflection of this set up, more that the cars aero requires tight ride height control, it is possible to run stiff anti roll bar and still have a compliance for coping with bumps.

Heave is when the car moves vertically, thus both wheels are rising or falling together
In a typical rear suspension the effect of heave is that the heave spring (blue) and each side spring (yellow) is providing stiffness. The dampers (Red) damp the motion.

Roll is when the car tilts, thus one wheel is rising and one is falling
In a typical rear suspension the effect of Roll is the ARB (orange) and the side springs provide the stiffness. Again, the Dampers (Red) damp the motion

Single wheel bump, which tends to be for riding kerbs or bumps in the track is a secondary requirement to heave and roll control, spring rates are not normally tuned for this requirement, instead the cars dampers allow freer suspension movement when the wheel suddenly rises up at a greater rate than normal, the damper has different rates for the wheel rising at different speeds, known as low speed (the cars chassis moving slowly i.e. pitch roll) high speed (bumps) and often a tertiary setting known as ‘blow off’ where the damper will provide a far lower damper rate for extreme wheel speeds such as kerbing.

Hence in both heave and roll the side springs are providing additional stiffness to the effective spring rate, thus both roll and have are coupled to the rate of the side springs. If we can do away with the side springs then both roll and have can be totally independent and controlled by their relevant springs. If you need a softer ARB rate, then the side springs are the limiting factor.

When you do away with the side springs, the heave and roll bar rates are higher in order to replace the spring rate added by the side spring. As long as each of these devices has a wide enough range of springs then there is no loss in control.

It’s noteworthy that both rear dampers are used, in the nineties we saw monoshock front ends, which utilised both a single spring and single dampers. But monoshocks only have one damper so the control of roll is undamped. With a side spring-less set up there’s two dampers, controlling roll motion. Which is an obvious improvement in vehicle control over Monoshocks.
Although there are some set backs with a side spring-less set up, some suspension designers want a non linear rate to the heave and wheel rates and sometimes different rising rate curve for each of these elements. This is achieved by the linkage (pushrod or pullrod) and the rocker geometry, going for side spring-less set up prevents having differing wheel and heave spring rising rates. In some engineers opinions, this is the removal of a needless layer of complexity.
A heave element not only supports the rear axle heave motion, but the element provides a non linear rate. Ground clearance is used up through downforce compressing the suspension as speed increases. The heave element has a range of free movement, this is taken up as ride height lowers until the then the heave spring itself (or Belleville stacks or bump rubbers) come into effect and add considerable rate to the heave motion. This prevents grounding or choking the underfloor through low ground clearance.
Equally making set up changes is both simplified and complicated. Engineers can now change either roll or heave rates independently, before changing a changing torsion bar effectively altered both. But changing a torsion bar, while not a quick task was the switch of an isolated component. Now teams will need to change the entire heave spring or ARB assembly.
An additional benefit is if a team wants to commit fully to the side spring-less set up, the packaging of the suspension becomes far easier, no longer having to package long torsion bars. This is perhaps a reason why Red Bull were able to effectively package the pullrod set up, as the pivot for the rocker is near vertical, fitting a torsion bar in this position would have been be tricky.

With the design of next years car leading towards a widespread adoption of pullrod, the option to adopt side spring-less will be attractive to aid packaging. Although the side spring-less pushrod set up will also allow dampers and rockers more freedom to be packaged at the front of the gearbox casing. Adoption at the front of the car is possible too, there is lesser need as the front roll rate is higher and the torsion bars can add to the effective rate. But simpler packaging and tuning may still be attractive for a designer.

Tyre Testing Sensors – What was seen in Abu Dhabi

The recent Young Driver and Tyre test in Abu Dhabi was a rare chance to see F1 cars in pure testing mode. Although team’s programmes varied, many teams used the test to gather ‘before and after’ data to see the effect of the change to Pirelli tyres. A change in supplier will have an impact not only on tyre usage, but also subtle change in tyre shape which will also affect aerodynamics. Hence we saw teams with a wide range of tyre temperature monitoring and air flow mapping sensors.
Since the introduction of the SECU teams have had to keep their telemetry system separate to the chassis engine management functions. For simplicity the race weekends tend to gather telemetry from the SECU and its homologated sensors. In testing the car is rigged up with dedicated data acquisition hardware and sensors. Some of these are complimentary to the normal range of sensors and are hardly seen, while some systems are fitted only for specific runs aimed at gathering a specific type of data from the car.

Tyre Temperature
Often run on race weekends, normally only for Friday practice, tyre temperature can be measured in several ways. Either by simple infrared sensors looking at specific band of the tyre, cameras monitoring the entire tread width and even wheel mounted sensors measuring the carcass temperature inside the tyre.

Simple Infra Red (IR) Sensors

Force India used simple IR sensors to measure a band of tyre temperature

The simplest sensors are IR sensors, they only look at one band around the tyre and hence they tend to look at the inside tread, due to the suspension camber loading this section of tyre most heavily. These sensors need to be in relatively close proximity to the tyre, and hence packaging can be an issue. They will map a single temperature over time. 

On race weekends these can be seen on the floor in front of the rear tyre, a specially design niche in the floor allows a smooth cover to be fitted over the sensor and provide a route for cabling to enter the cars wiring loom around the gearbox engine interface.   They are more difficult to package at the front, before the 2009 wide front wing rule the front wing endplate provided a useful location to mount a sensor, albeit one that only measured when the wheel was in the straight ahead position.

Before 2009 the endplate provide a home for a single 2D sensor

FIF1 used the usual floor mounted sensor, plus this endplate mounted one

In testing teams prefer to fit booms to the upright to have a single or array of sensors to steer with the wheel, thus getting data from around the whole lap rather than the few moments when the cars is in a straight line. Both Williams and Force India exploited these booms in the recent test. While red bull had a cable hanging from beneath the front wing, suggesting they had fitted an IR sensor there.

Without the wheel fitted you can see the array of three sensors

Williams used these booms in Abu Dhabi


IR Cameras

Force India also use IR cameras to measure the entire width of tyre temperature

A more recent development has been the adoption of IR cameras to monitor the entire width of the tread through out the lap. Pioneered by McLaren in 2003, using Thermoteknix hardware, the set up has since been adopted by most teams and teams outside of F1. The tiny camera is easy to package and have been used in heavy industry, they are rugged enough for F1 too. As the camera can be focused to look at the entire face of the tyre and from a distance, their positioning much easier. They no longer need to be mounted to the upright to steer with the wheel, as the camera will automatically pick up the edge of the tyre and read the temperature across the full profile. Although the camera sees the entire face of the tyre, it narrows down the data collected to just a strip across the tyre. The resulting data plotted as a graph of time versus position over time. 

This provides freedom to mount the camera in one of many locations; they are often inside the mirror casing or in the sidepod fronts for the front tyre camera, while the rear tyres are easiest monitored form a pod mounted on the floor ahead of the rear tyre.  Force India fitted their rear tyre camera on the roll hoop fitted inside a dummy FOM camera pod.

Virgin used tyre cameras mounted inside holes in the sidepod

Sauber used a grey 'camouflaged' IR Camera inside the pod wing


Tyre Carcass temperature sensor

Beru have this wheel mounted IR sensor system to measure temperature inside the tyre

Measuring the temperature of the surface of the tyre is one factor; the temperature of the core of the tyre is harder to measure. Simply measuring the temperature of the gas inflating the tyre is not accurate enough. Beru have developed a wheel mounted IR sensor for measuring the inside surface of the tyre.

Tyre shape
A tyres shape is not a simple cylinder, the tyre in fact has a complex shape, as the tyre deforms in both side and front elevation as it contacts the track. This shape changes with steering and speed/downforce. Mapping this complex dynamic shape is important as it will feed back to correlate to the shape seen on the rubber wind tunnels tyres provided by Pirelli and also modeled in CFD. The shape changes are subtle, but equally very different to the Bridgestone and the flow off the front wing and around the rear end will be heavily influenced.

Ferrari fitted a pod inside the diffuser view the tyre

Ferrari modeled the side profile of the tyre in detail using special pods, there were two pods fitted to the left hand of the car, one at the front and another at the rear. The front tyre pod fitted to the upright to turn with the wheel, while the rear pod was placed inside a cutaway section of the diffuser, the exhaust resited to blow away from the sensors. This would have impacted aero but the test results would still be representative enough for the team.

Williams used this 'Rake' an array of pressure taps to map the flow off the wheel

Williams and latterly McLaren also mapped the flow off the front tyre, to do this an array of pressure taps were fitted to a boom that could rise and lower to get a wider map of the flow. These would see how the tyre affected the flow off the front wing; tests were repeated with both tyres using a baseline set up on the car, so as not to confuse the results.


Tyre temperature article


McLaren Electronic Systems (MES) – Sensors

As well as providing the SECU and other homologated electronics on the cars, MES also produce this range of Tyre temp sensors

McLaren Electronics produce this simple IR Sensor


This MES sensor is an array of three seperate sensors


As well as the simple sensors MES have this IR camera

Williams used these booms in Abu Dhabi

Hispania: What options for their 2011 Chassis?

Earlier this month encouraging news was emerging from HRT and its potential partners. In short succession two announcements were made. HRT and Williams announced a gearbox technology partnership. Then days later Pascal Vasselon of Toyota Motorsport GMBH commented “I cannot say much yet, but we continue to discuss with Hispania, I think we will be able to make an announcement a little later”. The team also announced Juan Villalonga as a new backer, with Bernie Ecclestones blessing. These events culminated with the team successfully ended the season in eleventh place in WCC, ahead of Virgin Racing. Things looked good for the team.

However today Toyota Motorsport announced that “all cooperation with Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) has been terminated and will not resume”. This deal was believed to be for the rights to use the Toyota TF110 design, modified to the 2011 rules. Although other rumours suggested that HRT were to buy the entire Toyota Motorsport operation, this was believed to wide of the mark. A Toyota chassis mated to the Cosworth engine and Williams gearboxhydraulics would have been a competitive package. However the announcement means two things, firstly the line in the statement from Toyota that HRT had not met “contractual payment obligations” suggests budget was the source of the issue. With Villalonga now backing the team, this may have been down to a cash flow issue in the transition between the limited 2010 budget and the presumably secured backing for 2011. With ties severed to both the 2010 partner, Dallara and their potential 2011 partner, Toyota Motorsport. It seems HRT are now left with no technical partner for the chassis and with little time to find and establish a relationship with another chassis builder. Moreover, there’s now just over three months until testing resumes and four months until Round1 of the 2011 F1 World Championship. Precious little time to get a chassis programme underway. Their competitors will already have firm design plans and have started the build on their monocoques and crash structures.

So what options to HRT have to remain in F1 in 2011?

Possible Partners
Over the past two years there have been entries available to the F1 championship, as a result there has been a corresponding increase in companies with recent F1 design programmes. These programmes could be restarted if funding could be secured. As most of these businesses failed to gain an entry due to lack of funding, rather any lack in technical prowess. Its most likely one of these companies HRT will look to, if they are to build a new car with a new partner.

As a team putting a bid in for both the 2010 and 2011 season they are the ideal partner. Their design team headed by the experienced Sergio Rinland have maintained their F1 programme despite the disappointment in not getting a place on the grid for 2011. Epsilon have in recent years designed, built and campaigned a LMP car. Making their recent background similar to Wirth Research, who were the technical partner on the Acura programme. Equally their Spanish background matches the nominally Spanish HRT team. I’m not sure if Epsilon were only looking for an independent entry, one would imagine that if a deal were to be done between HRTEpsilon it would have been done by now.

Lola B10/30 Copyright: Racecar Engineering Magazine

Being a volume racing car manufacture Lola have all the in-house facilities and knowledge to produce an F1 chassis. One of the teams to present a proposal for the 2009 season, they lost out to Lotus, Virgin, HRT and USF1. They had got as far as a complete wind tunnel model, lead by their own staff and external consultants experienced within F1. The chassis appeared to be well progressed, considering the early stage it was cancelled. Although the programme was cancelled before the 2009 season, the car was designed to those regulations, which now closely match those of the 2011 rules.

Super Aguri SA03 (2008)

Having been formed from the Super Aguri team and consisting of many ex-Arrows F1
Staff, Formtech are almost a ready-to-go F1 operation. They own the IP for both the original Arrows based SA01, but also the Honda based SA02 & SA03. Having started a design programme for the 2009 season, the team folded in 2008. However the programme provided input into the dominant Brawn BGP001 and many of its designers have gone on to other F1 teams with some success. Of course to be legal and competitive Formtech will either have to design a new car or modify the Aguri designs. But they did just such a process at short notice with the far more outdated Arrows back in 2006. Formtech were approached to partner prospective entrants to the 2009 season, so they are a realistic potential partner.

Despite never getting off the ground, the USF1 programme did produce designs for a car conforming to 2010 rules and with a Cosworth engine. Its not clear who owns this design data, but there remains a body of knowledge and resources within America to develop an F1 car. Of course the problems within the team did lead to questionable design work and the car was incomplete, both physically and in design terms. This is perhaps a long shot in seeking a partner within the timescales available.

Another of the teams with a long held desire to be in F1. This long term plan has lead to the teams well equipped factory maintaining an F1 programme over a number of years. As with Wirth, Epsilon and Lola the team operate an LMP project, which is close enough in aero and chassis terms to be representative of an F1 design. However like Epsilon, Dome may not be seeking to partner with another team in order to get into F1. Just as importantly they would need to ramp up their design work to get an F1 chassis designed and built within the time available.

Existing teams

Wirth Research
Already providing Virgin with their chassis and gearbox case, Wirth are independent in a similar way (legally) as Red Bull Technology which provided both Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso with their design IP. Wirth were rumoured to be providing Villeneuve with a year old Virgin chassis, but most likely Virgin have a clause in their contract with Wirth not to supply another team in F1.

Perhaps on shakier legal ground would be Williams aiding the team with an old chassis or even independently designing a chassis. Williams do take on external design work such as the Metro 6R4 rally car, the current F2 car or BMW’s LMP programme. Their supply of gearboxes and existing knowledge of the Cosworth engine would certainly speed up any programme. Its unlikely Williams would risk rushing through a programme, simply to keep HRT on the grid.

Toro Rosso
The team remain up for sale and the price although diminished from a few years, is still a significant investment. An acquisition of STR for its design IP and assets would be a quick solution for HRT. But perhaps unwanted from Bernie Ecclestones point of view, as the grid would be another team short for 2011.

Go it alone
This really leaves HRT with the only option of designing a new chassis or redesigning their current chassis. With Geoff Willis as Technical director, its possible the team could achieve this. Either with contracted-in staff or a design bureau such as Lotus used, the knowledge can easily be bought in. Equally with the huge network of sub contractors supplying F1, the manufacturing could be farmed out to 3rd parties. The approach would depend on whether HRT own the design IP of the Dallara chassis. If they do own it, then modifying the chassis would be the quickest route to a race ready car. Albeit a car with compromises and resultantly suffering on pace.
Main rules changes for 2011 are, Pirelli tyres, fixed weight distribution (45F/55R), no double diffuser. Then there’s the option of KERS and an adjustable rear wing. Presuming the optional wing and KERS wouldn’t be taken up, this leaves the team the task of redesigning; the suspension, the mechanical layout for weight distribution and of course an aero programme. The suspension redesign would be at least in part aided by Williams providing the gearbox casing which will fix the rear geometry.
Designing from scratch at this stage would probably mean a very late build and many compromises in design. Simply to get a very quick monocoque, design in order to get the drawings signed off for manufacture and crash testing. This would be quite a serious undertaking, but would underline HRTs commitment to F1.

Everything boils down to how serious the team are to remain in the sport, which is largely dependant on how much money HRT have to invest in 2011. At this stage its hard to see the team getting anything other than lightly a redesigned chassis ready for the Bahrain GP next year.