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.
KERS has been in F1 since 2009, the system recovers energy under braking and allows the driver a boost in engine power each lap. However the FIA imposed strict limits on the amount of energy that can be recovered and discharged each lap. Which has often raised the question how do they control this usage and ensure teams are sticking to the rules? This sensor from Isabellenhütte Heusler has been introduced by the FIA this year to ensure exactly this.
Formula1 is often about setting a car up to suit the needs of the driver, but there can be no part more intimately linked to the driver than the seat. Literally moulded to their shape, the modern seat is a far more complex piece of engineering than the foam moulded seat used in the old days.
A feature of every F1 car since 1996, the cockpit headrest padding has evolved to become a critical safety feature. Introduced as part of the response to the incidents of 1994 and in particular the Wendlinger Monaco accident, the regulations are now very specific in regards to the shape and material of the padding. Although outwards these are simple pads, their design is tightly governed by the regulation the final detail is balanced between the drivers and the aerodynamicists.