Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Secrets of the F2007 // Racecar Engineering delves deeper into Ferrari's technical design

Published by Mr. C

Remember back in September, when the FIA mistakenly distributed the McLaren hearing transcripts without properly removing any of the confidential information beforehand?

Sure you do. Remember also, the total wall of silence that followed, where nobody dared acknowledge what had happened - not the FIA, the teams, or any commercial media outlet?

Again, I'm sure you do. Well earlier this month all that changed.

Racecar Engineering magazine, the bona fide print publication that's available in all good newsagents, has delved deep into the gory details the FIA failed to obfuscate. In their December 2007 issue, Racecar break down some of Ferrari's F2007 secrets, including:

  • The special type of gas that Ferrari use to inflate their tyres
  • How the double-rear master cylinder variable braking system worked
  • The significance of a buckling stay

It really is an enlightening read, and I encourage anyone with even a passing interest in the subject to run out and grab yourself a copy immediately. Speed TV have the first part of the article online, but it's worth reading the entire text if you can.

A couple of things came to mind as I was reading through, so I thought I'd jot them down here.

Tyres

Racecar have discovered that the special gas used by Ferrari was based on the common refrigerant HFC R404 A, that it was co-developed by an Italian company called Gruppo Sapio, and that the gas helped increase tyre longevity but transferring heat to the wheel rim. Of note Racecar suggest using the gas helps prevent chunking... oh the irony.

One thing that Racecar appear to have missed, is that the transfer of heat to the wheel rim may explain why Ferrari see a cooling benefit from their front and rear wheel bins, while Toyota don't. If Ferrari's special gas enables the rim to act as a radiator, then the greater the surface area, the better the heat expulsion. Toyota on the other hand claim they had to increase brake cooling as a result of adding wheel bins.

Brakes

Moving onto the variable braking system. Racecar suggest a layout of a cylinder and spring, coupled with an adjustable wedge that sits between the two and is controlled using a lever in the cockpit. What strikes me though is, no-one has ever fully explained Kimi's accident during free practice in Monza. Could an out-of-position (or incorrectly set) wedge, cause Kimi to violently spear to one side when he stood on the brake pedal?

The other bits

More details are explained relating to the mass-dampening-movable-floor used in Australia as well as what benefit a buckling stay might have relative to modern-day ground effects.

One key piece of information I did learn from the article, that wasn't specifically related to the FIA hearings, is Formula 1 cars appear to be designed to produce maximum downforce below 200km/h before losing as much as possible above that speed. For some reason I'd always assumed that the amount of downforce would continually increase as the speed of the car does.

The best £5 I ever did spend.