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 http://www.thermoteknix.com/content/english/misc/publications/press/documents/RACETECH.pdf


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

Exhaust Blown Diffusers: Pics from the past

In my previous articles on the subject, I’ve explained the Renault Re40 was the first F1 car to blow the diffuser(1983 first year of flat bottoms).  I got these pictures today and felt it was worth sharing them along with some insight from the man who brought the idea into F1, Jean Claude Migeot.

 This is what Jean Claude Migeot told me about the development

Exhaust blowing was on my menu of aero development during the first year of the flat bottom era (1983) as one possibility to recover some downforce. I was in Renault at the time in charge of aero and, after some checks on the engine bench as we were terrified to face another lag time (!) between throttle movement and downforce creation, I was given the green light to experiment in the tunnel. Exhaust blowing to create a fluid skirt on the side of the car (also tested early 1983) did not worked but blowing the rear diffuser was quite powerful (I remember something like 50 kg on the rear axle at full throttle whatever the speed). 

It was introduced at MonteCarlo in 1983 on the RE 40 and stay on it most of the season. It was kept on RE50 the year after (ask Derek Warwick!) and I introduced it also on the F1/86 (Canada 1986) when I worked for Ferrari later.

I remember well that in 1983 we were immediately protested by Brabham and Gordon Murray (on the basis of the exhaust blowing being a movable aero device) but Renault managed to win that case. A pity they did not return the favor to Brabham at the end of the season!!!

Diffuser blowing is specially good for traction out of slow corners but it has its downsides too. It increases balance sensitivity to throttle position which may create problems on high speed corners. Good and bad sides are quite depending on the driving style too: some drivers can take advantage of it more than others. The gas momentum available in the exhaust today is anyway much reduced compared to the turbo era (about 50%).

The Renault Re50 from 1984 split the 1.5l V6 twin turbo exhausts into two, plus the wastegate pipes, to create six outlets in the diffuser


From beneath you can see how the exhausts extend inside the diffuser Copyright: JC Migeot

The Benetton B196 blew the pair of exhausts from the Renault V10 into the centre of the diffuser

Analysis: HRTWilliams transmission technology deal

It seems recently more rumours and speculation circulate around the Hispania Racing Team than around any other team. But the first sign that the team will remain in F1 for 2011, was the announcement that they will be provided with gearboxes from Williams F1 from next season.

In their debut year Hispania (HRT) have run the standard Xtrac gearbox and hydraulics, being mated to the Cosworth engine and in turn to a Dallara chassis. This standard FIA specification rear end has been supplied to all three of the new teams (albeit with Virgin running their own gear case). The set up has not been without its own issues. Largely related to the reliability of the hydraulics package that controls various parts of the transmission. Having been the weak point on an F1 car for many years, for the existing teams at least the hydraulic system has finally matured into a reliable system. So it’s no slur on Xtrac that their first contemporary hydraulics package is less reliable than a seasoned F1 teams set up. To take step forward for 2011 and improve reliability the new teams have been seeking an alternative supply of gearbox and transmission technology. With Williams also running the Cosworth engine, their gearbox and ancillaries are already matched to the same engine as the new teams and reliable with it. So it’s no surprise that Williams have been offering this proprietary technology to other teams.

The short press release provided few details, but Williams have provided me with more information on the technical deal. Announced as a deal for Williams to provide HRT with transmission systems from 2011. The release added that this deal will extend for the life of the current Cosworth engine deal, expected to change with the new engine rules for 2013. This of course underlines the fact that Hispania will continue to use the Cosworth the CA2010 V8 beyond this year.

Williams have a record in sharing gearbox technology, the team provided Toyota with seamless gearbox technology while the pair shared a common engine supply in 2007. Williams had already run a seamless shift of their own in 2006, but this double clutch set up was discarded for their second generation set up. This latter version was shared with Toyota and exploited the now common method of using a double selector mechanism to provide the seamless shift.

What Williams will be providing HRT is a complete rear end package; this will be the complete gearbox including gear case. Williams have run a cast aluminium case for many years, although they have investigated carbon and titanium cases over the years, they feel the Alu case is the best solution for them. When asked if the deal was to provide the same specification as the Williams teams will use, as opposed to a bespoke case, Williams would only say that specific detail was “confidential”. With HRT’s limited budget and lack of technical resources, it would be expected for the team to share a common casing, perhaps with only the detail machining varying between the two teams.

In addition to the gearbox and case, Williams are also supplying HRT with “all associated hydraulics”. Perhaps this is the most critical aspect of the deal, while gearbox technology is not quite a commodity item, it is relatively accessible. However the hydraulics package is harder to acquire and takes time to develop. The systems are not commonly used in other motor sport formulae and differ in detail from Aerospace systems. It was after all Williams that matured modern electro hydraulic controls with their active suspension and winning world championships with them in the nineties. Albeit, it was the pioneering work done by Lotus that introduced the systems into F1 in the eighties.

KERS will be part of F1 again next year, again Williams via its subsidiary Williams Hybrid Power, has proprietary technology available to other teams. However Williams confirmed that there was “no KERS solution under this agreement”. This leaves Hispania to seek a KERS solution from Cosworth or another vendor.

Effectively Williams will provide the entire assembly from the rear face of the engine to the start of the rear crash structure. Primarily this will lead HRT to have the same rear suspension set up as Williams. For 2010 Williams have focussed on packaging their pushrod suspension to create as lower line shape the Red Bulls much talked about Pull Rod set up. Having a push rod set up necessitates having the rockers, torsions bars, dampers and antiroll bars on top of the gear case. With a double diffuser, pushrod creates more space for the diffuser at the cost of a streamlined shape to the cowling leading the lower beam wing. Next year with double diffusers banned, the Pullrod set up may be more beneficial, having less impact on diffuser packaging and better flow to the rear wing. Sam Michael confirmed to me at the FW32’s launch, that a pull rod set up was assessed for 2010, but the concept was discarded. But it’s possible the Pullrod solution could be back on the specification for 2011. Thus HRT will run the Williams inboard suspension geometry leaving the designers to adapt their rear suspension around those constraints and in turn the front suspension to match that.

With the majority of the rear end specified, it remains for HRT to design the rest of the car. The 2010 car was designed by Dallara, but the relationship fell apart after the opening races. Acting as a consultant, Geoff Willis was critical of the Dallara project and HRT have since severed ties with the Italian constructor. Rumours link the HRT team to Toyota, largely as the defunct Toyota motor sport team have F1 designs available for sale. Added to the fact that the base for the otherwise Spanish branded team is based in Germany at Colin Kolles workshops in Greding, some 4 hours drive from Toyota in Cologne. Rumours that the team had bought the entire Toyota operation for some $50m have been rubbished. It’s still possible that the car could be designed using existing Toyota IP or from new by their in-house design team. It’s also possible that a design office lead by Willis using German based design talent, could be a route to designing the car. This approach was taken by Lotus to get their 2010 car up and running.

Hopefully any design programme is already well under way, as the car will otherwise be very late. HRT will need an aero concept, suspension, electronics and the primary structures (i.e. monocoque & crash structures). The lead times for these programmes in both design and manufacturing terms are very long and with the season nearly complete, there’s just four months until testing commences in February. HRT have not confirmed any details of their chassis programme for 2011. So despite the deal announced today it’s far from clear if they can make it to grid next year.

Analysis: Lotus to use bespoke Red Bull gearbox and hydraulics from 2011

Although the rumours suggested it will be a complete Renault rear end for Lotus Racing, today the team announced it will in fact use the Red Bull gearbox and hydraulics from 2011.

Equally unexpected was the confirmation that the technology will not simply be Red Bulls 2011 RB7 design. But a part Lotus designed gearbox. Silvi Schaumloeffel from Lotus exclusively telling ScarbsF1.com “It’s a bespoke gearbox for us and we have been in contact for several weeks and have been able to progress the design”. Thus the 2011 Lotus already has the Gearbox design considered as part of its initial philosophy.

This deal underlines the determination of Lotus Racing to get a foot hold into the midfield. Their race results this year have been undermined by hydraulic failures. Lotus Racing are one of the two teams using the complete Xtrac gearbox and Geoff Willis technical director of HRT has been critical of the units packaging in comparison to current F1 standards. Clearly if Lotus want to progress then they need to resolve the reliability issues with the cars rear end. Moreover the team also need to improve their aerodynamics, at the rear of the car this is largely constrained by the gear case design. As the gear case itself forms a large obstruction to the airflow approaching the diffuser. Plus the gearcase dictates the rear suspension geometry, springdamper packaging and the hydraulics packaging.

As a route to a cheaper and quicker entry into the Formula, the FIA allowed new teams to run with an Xtrac gearbox and hydraulics, mated to the specification Cosworth Engine. Lotus have taken this approach, of the new teams only Virgin chose to make their own gearcase, the bespoke case gave Virgin a unique rear wishbone geometry.

Traditionally teams have always developed their own transmissions and hydraulics, albeit with assistance from specialist manufacturers, but the concept, design and assembly has been in the teams’ hands. While gearboxes have increasingly been reliable from both detail design work and the increased control from electronics, the F1 cars Achilles heel has recently been the hydraulics package. The hydraulics package is complex both in its operation and the number of moving components controlling the various systems around the car. A modern hydraulics system now controls: gear selection, clutch, differential, reverse gear, throttle control & power steering. Any number of components can lead to the system breaking: pump failures and leaks, plus failures of the valves or actuators.

To build up the knowledge and resources to develop a complete gearbox and hydraulics, requires time and a huge investment. Equally with restricted testing, problems with any part of the system could hinder pre-season testing and lead to yet more race retirements. As a medium term option Lotus have taken the route to sub contract these systems to another team who already have the knowledge resources and a proven product. Several teams have offered these systems to other teams, Williams are known to be marketing their rear end, while before the Red Bull announcement, Renault were believed to offering their rear end.

The option to take a team’s gearbox and hydraulics is logical; the choice of any of the current team’s solution would be equally attractive. Why Lotus chose Red Bull is not yet clear. Perhaps the fact they are able to offer a bespoke product, rather than the same specification as raced by the factory team.

Looking at Red Bulls recent history on transmission and hydraulics does not initially paint a positive picture. In the first years of Newey’s tenure at Red Bull racing their systems were unreliable, it took the recruitment of Geoff Willis to iron out the faults, since then and following his subsequent departure, RBR have been as reliable as their rivals in these areas. Red Bull were also late to the seamless and carbon fibre trends on gearbox design.

In contrast the influence of Newey on gearbox design shone in 2009 when he designed the RB5′s gearcase to accommodate the new aero regulations. With smaller diffusers mandated he took advantage of gearbox packaging to improve flow to the rear wing and around the diffuser. Only the advent of double diffusers upset this philosophy. Newey’s 09 gearbox took a low line approach, placing the differential low down and moving the springs and dampers from atop the gearcase to low down, by use of pullrods rather than pushrods. This placed the torsion bars splayed vertically aside the gearbox and the dampers running longitudinally alongside the case. While the heave damper and inerter sat inside the front of the gearcase, either side of the clutch input shaft. Having these components in this location placed them low from an aero and CofG perspective, plus they sat in the shadow of the engine, thus once faired in beneath bodywork presented no interference to airflow alongside the flanks of the gearbox. In contrast to the low line mechanicals, the wishbones were mounted unusually high, the lower wishbone was well above the floor (leading the space for the exhaust blown diffuser in 2010), then the upper wishbone sat very high up on pylons cast into the top of the gearcase, the rear legs of the upper wishbone taking a secondary aerodynamic role in directing airflow the rear wing.
It was only later in 2009 that the team switched from cast aluminium to a carbon fibre gearcase. The switch in material having no major effect on the original designs packaging.
For 2010 Newey’s gearbox needed to accommodate the double diffuser, the original concept was largely retained, only a raised differential and revised wishbone geometry (to optimise the EBD) were altered. Newey did tell me the benefit of pullrod was marginal, it being better to stick with the known concept than alter the entire case for pushrod operation. With the ban on double diffusers in 2011, Newey’s original 09 concept will see benefits once again.

Of course Newey’s gearbox layout won’t necessarily be copied, as the Lotus gearbox will be a bespoke product, Mike Gascoyne’s Cologne based design team will be able to influence its design. However it would be logical for the team to follow some of the concepts used by RBR in 2009. Although perhaps the choice of a cast metal casing would be more effective for Weight VS cost, Carbon would be expensive and 2011 cars are constrained by the demand for forward weight distribution that RBR faced in 2009. Gascoyne does have a record of innovative gear cases, with his split carbon fibreCast Ti case at Renault, then Toyota using fully cast Ti cases and latterly MidlandSpykerForce India with cost effective cast aluminium cases.

For Lotus to truly be a leading team they will need to build up their own gearbox and hydraulic departments. This deal for RBR technology will allow them to naturally evolve these resources, while racing their bought-in gearbox.

Septembers Technical updates

I’ll compress this months work into one post for simplicity. For updates on F1 technology have a look at the following outlets: Automoto365.com, Motorsport Magazine and Race Engine Technology magazine.

Automoto365.com – Singapore Tech Desk
All the technical devleopments from singapores night race.
- McLarens front wing and nose cone (thanks to bosyber comments on this blog)
- Red Bulls updates
- Mercedes Bargeboards
- Williams Frotn wing
- plus more from Renault and Toro Rosso


Motorsport Magazine – F1′s Aero Tricks

I’ve illustrated this article on this years must have developments: F-ducts, Exhaust Blown Diffusers and deflecting splitters.


Race Engine Technology

What lies inside a contemporary Formula One engine? Toyota have given Race Engine Technology full access to their current RXV-08 F1 engine. This issue contains the most detailed technical article ever published on a current F1 engine. A 16 page article covering all aspects of the Toyota Formula One engine in a level of detail you will have never experienced before. RET have been given unprecedented access to the engine with the full co-operation of the entire technical team.


F1 Tech in ‘Race Engine Technology’ Magazine

This months ‘Race Engine Technology’ magazine has some interesting stuff for F1 Tech followers. There’s an interview with Mario Ilien, who explains the work he did with Mercedes-Ilmor including; Hydraulic KERS, a rotary valved V10 (+20k RPM & 78Kg) and of course Berylium for Pistons & Liners.
In the Report from the F1 British GP, the Editor interviews Adrian Newey, Also Costa, Sam Michael and James Allison. Covering several topics; the effect of engine powerdrivabilityconsumption, as well as gearbox design influence on aero, with Newey commenting the Pull Rod was a carry over from 09 & not a requisite for his RB6 design. While Ferrari confirmed their enginegearbox assembly is inclined at over 3-degrees, the first time I’ve seen a reliable quote confirming this fact. It was added that Sauber take this set up for their C29, while Toro Rosso have their own gearbox so have a horizontal drivetrain.
Lastly is a small section on how Sauber pioneered current gearbox design with a longitudinal gearbox, with the gears ahead of the final drive and contained within an aluminum case. It surprised me that Harvey Postlethwaite was involved in this, is there anything that man didn’t do in F1?

Not generally available in the shops and not cheap, but well worth a one-off purchase or subscription.



Racing powertrain technology is on the verge of a revolution; Ian Bamsey says this issue gives some hints as to what to look for

Ian Bamsey talks to Mario Illien about his pioneering work in Formula One during the V10 era and the future of race technology

Peugeot’s con rod dramas; HPD’s new LM P2 V6 turbo; Le Mans’ Hybrid u-turn; John Medlen’s new role at DSR and much more

Ian Bamsey investigates how flywheel-based storage of recovered kinetic energy has been pioneered in professional racing

Despite the ongoing engine freeze, Ian Bamsey discovers some significant powertrain developments at the British Grand Prix

Wayne Ward discusses the options available for the design, materials and manufacturing methods for race camshafts

Le Mans-winning designer Peter Elleray on the relationship between engine and chassis design, highlighting where their needs conflict

John Coxon explains key points in designing and building a motorsports transmission – from the gear teeth to choice of differential

Ian Bamsey gives a rundown of the various engine strategies deployed by this year’s Le Mans Prototype competitors

How in 1993 Sauber’s first Formula One car prompted a major shift in transmission technology

To view a sample article from this issue please click here

Price £12.50

BAR Experimental Carbon Fibre Reinforced Upright?


Update:I asked at Mercedes GP (Nee BAR Honda), who had little information, but were able to confirm “It was a development carbon fibre upright we manufactured many years ago but it never ran on the car”

I often trawl around E-Bay to find bits of F1 cars for my collection.  This week I found a seller offering a BAR front upright, although it doesn’t appear to be just any old upright.  Externally it looks like the team may have been experimenting with a carbon fibre upright.  Something I have never heard of a team getting near race ready. Although John Barnard had talked about doing one via his B3 consultancy.  The design certainly doesn’t tally with images I have of the BAR cars from that era. 

The seller doesn’t appear to have any inside info and appearances can be deceptive, but from what I can see the upright is formed of a central metal (probably Ti) core, with the carbon fibre producing a stiffening structure around the wishbone and brake mountings.  We can see even back then BAR used a hollow hub to feed cooling air to the brake disc, a practice only just dropped for this year.

The seller mentions the part is from 2004, 2003-2004 was the era when teams were switching from vaned fabricated uprights towards the more slender Ti designs with airflow passing around them.  Additionally at the time carbon fibre was increasing being adopted as a gearbox material, with the heat and point loads that a gearbox has to accept being similar to that of an upright.

It would be interesting if anyone has any further insight into this part, or even wants to buy it so we can have a closer look!http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Honda-F1-Front-hub-and-2x-2004-Honda-BBS-front-wheels-/220606901522?cmd=ViewItem&pt=UK_Sports_Memorabilia_ET&hash=item335d322d12

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Ferrari: Spanish GP engine specification

Ferrari introduced a new engine spec in Spain; this was in order to resolve a problem with the pneumatic valve system.  This raises two points; why are they allowed to change a frozen engine specification and what are the pneumatic valves?

Since the end of 2006 F1 engine specs have been frozen, this was a move to further reduce the costs for the engine suppliers. It was introduced even after stringent standard engine specifications and limited engines over season were introduced.  Since the first homologation of the engines, teams have been allowed to retune the engine for different RPM limits and also to accommodate KERS.  Offsetting this has been the increase to the parts covered by the specification freeze. 

Teams are however allowed to make changes to the their engines for reliability reasons, this applies both to resolving issues that have ‘blown up’ engines, as well as impending failures.  To request a change, teams have to apply to the FIA outlining the reason for the change and the resulting changes.  This information is passed around the other engine suppliers, this transparency helps to reduce excessive changes and reassures teams what their rivals might or might not be getting up to. 

While the fundamental reason for this dispensation is to aid teams with reliability problems, any ‘reliability’ change could also bring a performance gain.  This could be either as a direct result of the ‘reliability’ change i.e. lighter part making more power, or as a secondary result, i.e. new valve seat material allows a different fuel for more power.  Clearly any possible advantage will be taken by the manufacturers when making changes to the engine.

Ferrari had an issue with leaking pneumatic valves; this meant the car may not be able to last a full race distance without the system being topped up.  Thus Ferrari asked for and gained approval to make alterations to their valve system to resolve the problem.

Pneumatic valves are universal in F1 and have been for decades, first introduced by Renault on their V6 turbo engine, they replicate the effect of valve spring in closing the poppet valves in the cylinder head.  Where as a valve spring could do the job, they are more difficult to manufacture to cope with ever higher RPMs.  Although F1 engines are now limited to 18,000rpm, these pneumatic valves have worked on engines revving to over 20,000rpm.  Metal coiled valve springs, suffer from harmonic and fatigue problems at higher revs.  While still resolvable, these issues are simply cured with a switch to a pneumatic valve return system (PVRS).  Instead of a valve being closed against the cam by a coil spring sat in a pocket in the head, the pocket is sealed by a cap and the resulting closed cylinder pressurised with nitrogen gas creating an airspirng.  Of course the PVRS set up can lose pressure and F1 cars run with small nitrogen cylinder housed in the sidepod to keep the system pressurised.  Sometimes when excessive leaking occurs, the car is topped up at a pitstop by a mechanic with a hand held gas cylinder.  In Ferraris case their problem was that their system had always ‘leaked’ to some degree, but with a ban on the longer fuel stops, pit stops are now too short for effective repressurising.  Thus they applied to have their system altered.  It is understood that the Ferrari solution takes some lessons from the Toyota teams’ experience, possibly through the new Ferrari Engine Head Luca Marmorini, who also ran Toyotas F1 engine operation until the end of 2008.  A different PVRS set up, with different seals and revised oil formulation to aid sealing, the engine is now believed to be more powerful by some 12 horse power.  Quite a gain from a change in this era of frozen specification.

Cooling: Options for outlets

Since the changes in the bodywork rules for 2009, teams have struggled to tune their cooling within the limits of what openings can be made in the cars sidepods.  Tuning the cars cooling is always a compromise, between outlet area and drag. the more outlet area the greater heat that can be evacuated from within the sidepods. But this comes at the cost of drag, which will slow the cars lap times.
Heat is created by the engine, then ejected via convection through the radiators and radiation from the engine itself, especially the exhausts. Additionally cooling needs to be provided for the gearbox oil and hydraulics fluid (plus in 2009 the KERS hardware). The bodywork rules apply a no opening rules for three areas of the sidepods; 1) either side of the cockpit opening, either side of the fuel tank and then from their to a point near the rear wheels.  Plus the teams can have a limited area to open around the rear suspension and an equally restricted single opening for the exhaust pipe outlet. (see the full rules at the bottom of the article).

Different panels alter the size of the coke bottle exit

Aside from the limited openings stated, the rules initially looked like the only area for cooling would be the exit at the rear of the coke bottle shape. To this end several teams created removable panels to tune the size of the exit, McLaren in particular created an effective solution to do this with the MP4-24. However the downside of solely using the coke bottle exit, was also the primary reason teams switched to chimneys and louvers in the years preceding the new rules. This makes the sidepods bulky as the air from the radiators needs to be ducted all the way along the cars length. Plus the exit being in between the rear wheels created drag and upsets the aerodynamics. Every team has oversized the apertures that the suspension passes through up to the maximum allowable area, this provides a useful exit as does the area the exhaust pipe which is oversized for the actual pipework the exhaust employs.

Panels either side of the cockpit are an effective cooling option

But closer reading of the rules shows there are other areas that can be exploited. Taking a wider view the rules allow room for unrestricted openings ahead of and behind the restricted sidepod areas. Additionally opening can be made inboard of these areas and an area up to ~50mm above the floor. We soon saw teams create openings near the cockpit, being just above the radiators they are particularly efficient, and with the raised cockpit sides being a add-on to the structure of the monocoque, quite easy to retrospectively apply to the car. Teams have employed both vents and louvers in this area, in extreme temperatures teams even have louvered and vented panels fitted to the same opening. Near this spot the very front of the sidepods extend beyond the controlled zone and Both Force India and McLaren have created openings across the front shoulder of the sidepod. Towards the rear, it was Red Bull that found that the upright engine cover could act as a vent, as the engine cover tapers towards its end open-able panels allow hot air to exit.

If the radiators extend far forwards enough, this opening can be used

Outlets on the spine of the engine cover are another option for Cooling

For local cooling rather than a major out many teams fit outlets along the lower edge of the sidepods, normally this is actually part of the floor, BMW Sauber in particular have fitted long runs of louvers to exploit this area.

Runs of louvers along the floor

Also Ferrari have exploited the rule on exhaust opening, while it demands a single opening of a maximum size, the rules do not state how narrow it can be at any point. Thus Ferrari created an exhaust pipe exit inline with the louvers, the four apertures joined by a small slot machined into the bodywork. The slot joins the apertures and effectively makes them one opening, extending the area allowed over a greater area. Critical for Ferrari who have a “U” bend in their exhaust pipe that would otherwise scorch the bodywork.

One other point on cooling opening is that teams sometimes have larger openings on one side of the car than the other. This is because the sidepods contain asymmetric cooler, one sidepod will also have an oil cooler, taking up some of the space of the water radiator. Thus this side has greater outlet area to maintain low oil temperatures.




Red Bull


Force India



3.8.4 Any vertical cross section of bodywork normal to the car centre line situated in the volumes defined below must form one tangent continuous curve on its external surface. This tangent continuous curve may not contain any radius less than 75mm :

a) the volume between 50mm forward of the rear wheel centre line and 300mm rearward of the rear face of the cockpit entry template, which is more than 25mm from the car centre line and more than 100mm above the reference plane ;

b) the volume between 300mm rearward of the rear face of the cockpit entry template and the rear face of the cockpit entry template, which is more than 125mm from the car centre line and more than 100mm above the reference plane ;

c) the volume between the rear face of the cockpit entry template and 450mm forward of the rear face of the cockpit entry template, which is more than 350mm from the car centre line and more than 100mm above the reference plane.

d) the volume between the rear face of the cockpit entry template and 450mm forward of the rear face of the cockpit entry template, which is more than 125mm from the car centre line and more than 675mm above the reference plane.

The surfaces lying within these volumes, which are situated more than 55mm forward of the rear wheel centre line, must not contain any apertures (other than those permitted by Article 3.8.5) or contain any vertical surfaces which lie normal to the car centre line.

3.8.5 Once the relevant bodywork surfaces are defined in accordance with Article 3.8.4, apertures, any of which may adjoin or overlap each other, may be added for the following purposes only :

- single apertures either side of the car centre line for the purpose of exhaust exits. These apertures may have a combined area of no more than 50,000mm when projected onto the surface itself. No point on an aperture may be more than 350mm from any other point on the aperture.

- apertures either side of the car centre line for the purpose of allowing suspension members and driveshafts to protrude through the bodywork. No such aperture may have an area greater than 12,000 mm when projected onto the surface itself. No point on an aperture may be more than 200mm from any other point on the aperture.

Schumachers Seat: Getting Comfortable

Schumachers Seat: the pipes are for air bladders to pad out his seat

During qualifying we saw Michael Schumachers seat being refitted.  Rather than the simple carbon fibre moulding we normally see, the Mercedes seat also had six lines leading from connectors at the top edge of the seat.  These are in fact air pipes, leading to inflatable cushions.  Not a sign of Schumachers age, as this is a similar set up he also used at Ferrari.  Schumacher like to to be well fitted into his seat, so the inflatable solution allows the engineers to connect an air line to each of the valves at the top of the seat, to inflate the pads to suit Schumachers  requirements.  There are six pads; around the shoulder, hips and thigh, although only the right side of the seat has four pads, leaving just two on the other side.