Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Tech Spec

About Tech Spec

With so much of the focus in Formula 1 being directed at the drivers' performances, we should not forget that the cars they drive also play a key role in success or failure. So much time and effort goes into building and perfecting these finely tuned racing machines and it's here that we take a look at some of those fine points. Tech Spec offers an in-depth look at form, function and the reasons thereof, as we speculate on the detail and perhaps maths or physics behind aspects of the sport. Warning, may contain detail.

In a state of suspense

A peek inside the mechanics of F1 suspensions

Sidepodcast: In a state of suspense

by Will Davies

After previously checking over external configurations, the wait is over, and we can now get down to the business of focussing on the internal workings of Formula 1 suspensions. We’ve seen how the positioning of the trackrods and wishbones affects the motion of the suspension; all that is left is to explore how the internals oppose that movement and therefore keep the car at the ideal attitude and altitude for the driver, the mechanics and for optimum car performance.

Young by name, not by nature

A team-by-team summary of the Silverstone summer test

Sidepodcast: Young by name, not by nature

by Will Davies

It once was a chance for young drivers to be tested in Formula 1 cars around a proper F1 circuit. It quickly transitioned to testing cars and developments, so non-race-driving old-boys got involved – Gary Paffett and Oliver Turvey both know their way around an F1 car, having driven in YDTs for the past few seasons. Without anything dramatic happening to either one of McLaren’s two race drivers, Paffett’s F1 career will have him always as the bridesmaid but with no chance of becoming a bride. Now this season, after the Pirelli tyre fiasco, race drivers too have been allowed to attend, so long as they only work on the tyres.

Suspension of disbelief

Absorbing F1's forces

Sidepodcast: Suspension of disbelief

by Will Davies

It may come as a surprise to some that one of the most important pieces of the car is the suspension. But saying that something is important doesn’t necessarily mean much in F1 – if it wasn’t important, it’d be markedly different or not on the car at all, as is the way. The suspension’s role is to connect the chassis to the wheels; allowing them to rotate, steer, deliver power to the track, and absorb the forces sent up from the road, as well as to hold the brakes etc.

Must-have gadgets must have acronyms

An overview of driver tools to aid overtaking

Sidepodcast: Must-have gadgets must have acronyms

by Will Davies

During recent times F1 has seen the introduction of various overtaking aids for drivers to compliment their driving and perhaps enhance the racing in the process. First we had the KERS button which, like previous (and now future) turbo engines, could deliver a boost. Then was added the DRS system, which was a different method of improving a cars’ straight line speed, and now that has morphed somewhat and spawned the DRD.

The eXhaust-Factor

How the Coandă effect is used in conjunction with exhausts

Sidepodcast: The eXhaust-Factor

by Will Davies

Ever since teams realised the importance of generating downforce, cars have been designed so that they trade off maximum speed and create these forces that help hold the car on the track and improve cornering speeds, therefore ultimately improving lap times. The wings are the parts of the car that first come to mind, but they are not the full story – it is often forgotten that the car itself can be used for producing downforce.

In their element

Wings and wheel nuts; how they work, and reasons for their current structure

Sidepodcast: In their element

by Will Davies

In the late 1960s Formula 1 cars first experimented with the addition of wings and they were found so vital that we’ve not looked back. As we know their purpose is to produce extra downforce (additional to that created by the car chassis alone) so as to increase the amount of grip that the tyres can generate while the car is on track, therefore improving the speed at which a car can take the corners. In this Tech Spec we break down some of the reasons F1 wings are designed the way they are – in particular reasons for the elements and endplates being shaped as they currently are.

A modest improvement or the vanity of others?

Weighing up the benefits of fast and ugly against slow and beautiful

Sidepodcast: A modest improvement or the vanity of others?

by Will Davies

There are not many differences to the aero-regulations between last season and this so there are only minor changes that teams have made to the looks of their cars. It seems that most cars are moving towards one or other configuration of a Coandă exhaust (but that is a topic for another time). The main aesthetic difference between the 2012 and 2013 cars is the introduction of the modesty panel (referred to by some as a vanity panel).